As cannabis continues to get more publicity as a provider of therapeutic benefits, discussions are beginning to take place about the overall impact cannabis legalization is having on the world. For quite a few years now, cannabis has started to make a new legacy for itself as an all-natural solution to a variety of conditions.
While in the past cannabis was only ever associated with getting stoned and devouring the contents of your refrigerator, it is now being recognized for a wealth of other attributes – and there are a lot of them!
With marijuana becoming more widely accepted around the world, we are beginning to see new benefits of the herb emerging everyday. While discussions are being had around the potential for cannabinoids as daily health supplements, one new and exciting benefit of cannabis is that it has been associated with the decline in alcohol use in the U.S.!
In this article we are going to take a look at the impact legalized marijuana has had on the alcohol industry in America, and explore the benefits of choosing one over the other.
Cannabis: A brief history
To make this a fair fight, it is important to look at where both drugs began, and how they have impacted the world both positively and negatively!
The cannabis plant, also known as marijuana or pot has been around since 500BC! In the beginning, this humble plant was used for medicinal purposes, as well as for important textiles (hemp is an excellent fiber for making clothes, rope, etc). It has of course over the years been used more and more as a social activity, which has led to it being negatively depicted through the media and often incorrectly portraying stereotypes of lazy individuals with no goals or aspirations. While this couldn’t be further from the truth, the stigma has certainly been hard to shake off!
In 2018, you can find cannabis being used all over the world to relieve serious side effects from a variety of debilitating diseases. Used to treat cancer, epilepsy, depression and so many more conditions, cannabis has made huge steps away from the old stereotype!
Alcohol: A brief history
In case you haven’t guessed, alcohol has also been used for thousands of years! Universally accepted as a sociable and acceptable drug to consume, alcohol is currently one of America’s most preventable causes of death!
Of course, alcoholism hasn’t always been an issue. During the 16th century when alcohol was used mostly for medicinal purposes, it actually served a massive benefit. However, by the mid-eighteenth century, alcoholism was born as more low-cost spirits were produced!
From its humble beginnings to the US prohibition of the 1920’s, and now all the way to today, the journey alcohol has taken to bring us to 2018 has been an interesting one. Regardless, it remains a controversial, but legal substance worldwide!
Cannabis vs. Alcohol
Both marijuana and alcohol are very controversial substances in the US, as well as the rest of the world. We see debates and new health reports every week declaring one to be worse than the other, and when we factor in issues around legality, things get pretty complicated!
Statistics show that in the US, over a staggering 80,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths every year! With figures such as these, it is understandable that cannabis advocates are fighting harder than ever to make cannabis mainstream and to put laws in place for alcohol consumption.
While alcohol can be used to enhance mood and is often used as a sociable drug, it is an addictive substance and can be extremely dangerous if taken in excess. When placed side by side with cannabis, alcohol indeed comes off worse every single time, as no deaths have ever been reported with relation to cannabis use (while it can potentially have adverse side effects if taken in excess, it cannot cause death from over-use).
The fact that marijuana is impossible to overdose on instantly makes it much safer than alcohol, which can cause death if over-indulged in. In fact, the potency of alcohol is so severe that it can cause death from one occurrence of over-drinking.
There are also of course other things to consider when comparing the two drugs. For instance, affordability and accessibility. With the current legality issues surrounding cannabis, it is much more difficult to get your hands on than alcohol. On the flip side, you only have to go to your local shop to buy a potentially lethal amount of alcohol, and the prices are so varied that it is possible to get drunk on as little as $10!
However, it is essential to take note that neither substance can be consumed without some negatives. The most popular way to consume cannabis is to smoke it, and this in itself brings about a host of issues.
The consumption of smoke is the number 1 killer in America, and it is vital we consider these factors when discussing the overall safety of cannabis. While smoking cannabis is likely to bring about some negative after-effects, there are now alternative ways to consume the compound that does not involve any smoke inhalation.
With alcohol, the most common conditions associated are liver damage and other pressing issues such as heart failure and mental health issues. Also, our bodies are physically unable to metabolize high amounts of alcohol, which leads to the shutdown of vital organs.
Cannabis’ impact on alcohol consumption in the US
It is clear from the past hundred years or so that the legality of the arguably much safer drug has led to more awareness about alcohol and the potential dangers it brings. In fact, with people becoming more aware of the potential benefits of cannabis, and with the fact that it has little to no side effects, it is actually becoming more popular!
While many places across the world are yet to accept the medicinal qualities of cannabis, many states in America have already been converted, so much so that there has been a reported drop of 15% in alcohol sales over America between 2006 and 2015!
A study done in December 2017 analyzed the sales of alcoholic beverages between 2006 and 2015, and results not only showed the decrease in sales, but also that it coincided with medical marijuana laws across all 50 states! It was concluded that the states where marijuana has been legalized showed a dramatic reduction in alcohol use – apparently, many people are finding marijuana to be a preferable, and safer substitute.
The take-home message here should be to do everything in moderation, and sensibly. While cannabis may not lead to death or overdose, increased consumption of THC has been shown to cause increased psychosis in sufferers of mental health issues. Also, there are slight side effects to over-indulging in the all-natural substance, so it is always recommended to use with caution.
That being said, the risks associated with alcohol use dramatically outweigh those of cannabis use. This begs the question of why alcohol is legal and so easy to get hold of, while cannabis continues to be shunned in most states, as well as many countries around the world.
While there are no known health benefits to alcohol consumption, there has been recorded observations of reduced viral illnesses such as colds, as well as lower rates of cardiovascular diseases in regular drinkers. However, these potential benefits don’t outweigh the almost certain risks that come with over-drinking.
And finally, while it is clear that marijuana is becoming more and more popular amongst medical patients and those who just want to reap the benefits of the compound, there is still a long way to go to find out its real advantages when compared to alcohol, as cannabis research is still in its infancy compare to that of alcohol.