Marijuana vs Alcohol
Cannabis, ganja, mary jane, historically there have been many misconceptions and propaganda campaigns against the substance in America. Because of this, our society has at times had a skewed view on marijuana. Cannabis has effectively been illegal since 1937 when the marihuana tax act was passed. And when the Controlled Substances Act passed in 1970 which placed each controlled substance into different schedules; Marijuana was placed in Schedule 1. Schedule 1 drugs were reserved for substances such as heroin which ‘has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States’. At the time, there was no currently accepted medical use for cannabis. It wasn’t until 1973 when Oregon became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. To this day, 29 states have legalized medical cannabis, and 8 states have legalized recreational cannabis.
Cannabis has so many medical uses it’s hard to list them all. It can be a very effective treatment for serious conditions such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain and a myriad of other ailments. Cannabis can also be used for less serious conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, nightmares, nausea, migraines, and the list just goes on.
Marijuana creates a very enjoyable high when ingested, it can be smoked, vaporized, or eaten. The oldest known cannabis stash researchers believe was intended to be smoked is over 2000 years old and is currently on display at the Turpan Museum in China. So people have been smoking cannabis for a long time, and in that time there have been no recorded deaths from ingesting the substance.
Opiates interact with receptors that are in areas of the brain that control respiration. Meaning when you ‘overdose’ on opiates you can stop breathing and in many cases die. However, when ingesting cannabis, endocannabinoid receptors that in no way effect respiration is activated. Meaning no matter how much cannabis you take, it won’t cause you to stop breathing. According to research, ganja has a therapeutic index of 40,000:1. Meaning you would have to take 40,000 times the average dose of cannabis to die from it. In fact, if you tried to smoke 40,000 times the average dose of marijuana; you would die from carbon monoxide poisoning long before any of the other chemical compounds in the plant affected you.
Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world. In 2015, 89% of American adults had drunk alcohol at some point in their lives. 70% had drunken it within the last year, and 56% within the last month.
Alcoholic drinks are typically divided into three categories, beer, wine, and spirits. Depending on the drink it can contain anywhere from 3%-40% alcohol by volume. Humans are believed to have drunken intentionally fermented drinks for a millennium, with some discoveries going as far back as 10,000 BC. Drinking can be fun, and almost any drinker will tell you that it is. It provides a sense of intoxication, reduces anxiety, increases sociability, and in low doses can cause euphoria.
Alcohol in America was made illegal between 1920-1927 after which the laws were repealed. But since then, sales have been going strong with the global alcoholic drink industry exceeding $1 trillion in 2014
While alcohol does have some health benefits, the negative side effects of ingesting the substance heavily outweigh them. In 2014 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for almost 10,000 deaths or around 30% of all driving fatalities in the United States. In 2012, 3.3 million people died from alcohol consumption or roughly 6% of all global deaths. Globally, alcohol abuse is the fifth leading cause of premature death. Approximately 25% of deaths for those between the ages of 20 and 39 is alcohol related.
While getting a buzz on can be fun, in 2010 alcohol misuse in the United States cost approximately $250 billion. Not to mention the fact that long term alcohol use can cause cirrhosis, pancreatitis, epilepsy, heart disease, peptic ulcers, polyneuropathy, and a host of other unsavory ailments.
So why ingest a substance that causes so much death, when we can smoke up herb that has literally never killed anyone?