Marijuana vs Alcohol

5 Scientific Reasons Weed is Safer than Alcohol

July 11, 2017

Marijuana vs Alcohol

5 Scientific Reasons Weed is Safer than Alcohol

Real quick. Share your insight and suggestions in the comments section below to enter our monthly contest for a chance to win a Smoke Stone from Nebula Glass Studios and The Hoard airtight stash. Check the drawing rules out here. Enjoy reading! 

If you're familiar with both substances, I bet you've asked yourself when you're high, drunk, or both, which one is worse for you, Marijuana or Alcohol?

So, when it comes to Marijuana vs Alcohol, studies are flooding in and out and the conversation keeps coming up due to the relatively recent legalization for medical or recreational marijuana. Legalization helped a lot of research institutions to conduct their studies out in the daylight, simply because people are willing to participate. Most stoners are excited to participate to prove to the whole world how amazing this plant is. Such environment helped to approve or debunk some of these "ancient" studies, from two years ago.

Despite all that, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, while alcohol is legal to consume for people who are 21 years of age or older. It's an old standing stoners arguments, and it's about time to test it. 

Talking about stoners, check our 7 Key Tips to Break the 'Irresponsible Stoner' Stereotype

Before we jump into some details, I feel it's important to note that comparing alcohol to marijuana is like comparing apples to oranges. Till cannabis is completely legal nationwide, we won't be able to analyze and evaluate which one is more or less harmful. But this is the bottom line, as soon as we have the freedom to drink alcohol, we should have the freedom to smoke marijuana. NOW, THIS IS apples to apples comparison. 

1. Addiction & Withdrawal Symptoms 

Alcohol dependency has been pretty well-documented over the years. According to The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. So that's clear. 

Now, when it comes to marijuana vs alcohol, the addictive characteristics of cannabis is not fully established. According to the The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 9% of cannabis users became addicted to it. Compared with about 15% who use alcohol and 15% who use cocaine.

As for withdraws symptoms, when heavy alcohol drinkers suddenly stop, the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal anxiety, irritability, agitation, tremors, seizures, and Delirium tremens (DTs) -- are the opposite of those associated with alcohol consumption.

As for symptoms associated with marijuana withdrawal, which many of them overlap with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, depression, mood changes, irritability, stomach pains, loss of appetite, nausea ad insomnia.

2. Overdose & Death

Mostly, drinking alcohol is not lethal, but we're talking here about overdosing. When people drink too much liquor, or any alcohol for that matter, and that can be fatal. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported "Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years." It also reported "excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years." 

Sometimes comparing marijuana vs alcohol is not like comparing apples to apples. But in this case, it is. When it comes to marijuana, however, The quick and short answer is: No. The National Cancer Institution reported "Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur." 

3. Crime Rates

From a societal prospective, a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism concluded that alcohol and the violent crimes in the U.S. are tightly correlated. The study is proposing that the use of alcohol is associated to 25% - 30 % of the violent crimes. Addictive Behaviors had noted a long time ago that “alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence relationship,” and that “cannabis reduces likelihood of violence during intoxication.”

For me, my answer for marijuana vs alcohol is pretty straight forward especially when it comes to violence and crime, but let's get into numbers for a second. As for marijuana, A report by has shown; since 2012 - the initiative that legalized marijuana for adult use in Washington - "the violent crime rate has declined and the overall crime rate has remained at a 40-year historic low. According to data collected by the National Incident-Based Reporting System, violent crime has continued to dramatically decrease in Washington and across the country.

Another study by the University of Texas at Dallas looked into the debate surrounds the medical legalization of marijuana from 1990-2006. The study concluded that the marijuana laws were found to have a crime exacerbating effect on any of the seven crime types. On the contrary, the findings indicated that medical marijuana legalization precedes a reduction in homicide and assault. 

Finally, "Marijuana Legalization - What Everyone Needs to Know" by Jonathan P. Caulkins (btw, it's free from Google Books) outlined that THC - the main psychoactive element in marijuana, the main reason behind getting "high" - may even "Decrease aggressive and violent behavior“ in chronic users, a study from the National Academy of Sciences found.

4. Driving

Stoned Drivers Are a Lot Safer Than Drunk Ones, New Federal Data Show

One of the many arguments surrounding the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana has been how dangerous it could be to drive while under the influence. Many studies have come out over the years comparing drivers who have recently smoked and those who are intoxicated with alcohol. 

The newest study to come out however, says that the previous ones got it wrong. The study was published in the journal Addiction, and attempted to gauge how likely drivers were to have an accident while high. According to the study, smokers were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to crash versus alcohol’s multiplying factor of four.

The discrepancies between previous studies and this one, according to the researchers, is that previous studies’ methodologies were "wrong". They looked at over 20 studies and 2 meta-analyses from 1982-2015. The most prominent methodology inaccuracy was the failure to account for known variables such as gender or age.

Another study, affiliated with the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, found, after alcohol, marijuana is the second most repeatedly detected drug in drivers involved in car accidents. The study found that driving high on marijuana increases the likelihood to be in a fatal car accident by 83%. Keep in mind, a positive test indicates that the driver had used the drug detected but does not necessarily mean that the driver was impaired by the drug at the time of crash.

Yes, 83% is still high, that's why you should never drive high. However, for the sake of our discussion here, with comparison with alcohol, driving drunk increases the likelihood to be in a fatal car accident by by 2,200%. 

Note: the study also show that drug use is associated with a significantly increased risk of fatal crash involvement, particularly when combined with alcohol.

According to a new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers under the influence of marijuana are significantly less likely to crash than drunk drivers, and no more likely to crash than sober drivers. Several states, including Colorado, have passed laws attempting to define “marijuana impaired driving" similarly to drunk driving. That’s like claiming sober drivers are too impaired to drive! Pot breathalyzers are being developed to determine whether a driver is too impaired from marijuana to drive. However, most laws have yet to determine what blood THC threshold makes a person unfit to operate a motor vehicle.

Now, we’re NOT trying to tell you that it’s safe to get super stoned and start driving, as we mentioned earlier, there are plenty of evidences showing that marijuana does impair reaction time and other important driving skills. One thing is clear however; driving stoned is definitely safer than driving drunk. Science. (Read the whole article on The Washington Post here). 

5. Learning and Memory

"Remember" back in college when you kept going the whole night, drinking and having fun, but the next day, you get one of your good friends and ask him "dude, did I do anything embarrassing last night?" - Because simply you don't remember. Because simply you were "blacked out." 

Data from the Harvard CAS suggested that college students who binge drink frequently (three or more times in a 2-week period) are at high risk of negative alcohol-related outcomes. They are twice as likely to experience alcohol-induced memory losses than those who binge drink one or two times in a 2-week period

Now. This is interesting. Another study, in fact it was an e-mail survey of 772 college students to learn more about their experiences with blackouts - About 50% of those who reported consuming alcohol had experienced a blackout at some point in their lives. 40% had experienced one black out n the year before the survey. And 10% had experienced it in the 2 wees before the survey. Many of them havd reported that they learned later that they were involved in vandalized property, driven an automobile, had sexual intercourse, or engaged in other risky behaviors during their blackout period.

Let's talk about marijuana. In The New England Journal of Medicine, a study has shown that the brain remains in a state of active until the age of approximately 21. During this development year, the brain tend to be more vulnerable than a mature brain to unfavorable long-term effects of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. For instance, adults who smoked marijuana regularly during adolescence have "fewer fibers" in specific brain regions than those who didn't. Which may cause significant decline in IQ - however, from the Effects of Cannabis on the Adolescent Brain study published  - "frequency and severity of use is likely to play a role, particularly in those reporting younger age of initiation. Further, some evidence suggests that many of the subtle cognitive effects are likely to resolve after longer-term abstinence." - Another study by The American Medical Association reached the same conclusion. 

So the key takeaway here, don't smoke marijuana when you're under 21. I know I will be hated for that, and I really want to smoke marijuana with my teenage kids someday because I think it's a great bonding experience, but we're talking science here. Stop arguing. You can ignore it, you can deny it, but it's still there.

Alcohol is 114 times more deadly than Marijuana


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated as needed for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in CannaAcademy

Know Your Weed! Complete Guide to Choose The Perfect Marijuana Strain for Your Lifestyle
Know Your Weed! Complete Guide to Choose The Perfect Marijuana Strain for Your Lifestyle

July 18, 2017

Visiting any dispensary in the states, where marijuana is legal for medical purposes or recreational, can be overwhelming with elaborate range of marijuana strains. Those hundreds of possibilities have created a whole new breed of marijuana smokers, who turned, from stereotypical stoners, into rather picky and sophisticated, or sometimes come across as pretentious. And, to be completely honest, I can totally see their point.   

Read More

Review - Stop What You’re Doing Right Now and Order a Magical Butter Machine
Review - Stop What You’re Doing Right Now and Order a Magical Butter Machine

July 07, 2017

If you are even toying with the idea of starting to bake or cook with Cannabis-infused butter or oil, stop what you’re doing right now and order a Magical Butter Machine.  You won’t regret it, not even for a second. 

I recall asking my “weed guys" YEARS ago about making butter.  He was super secretive about it and said he couldn’t give me a recipe or directions.  Mind you, he was recognized legally by the state of California to sell...

Read More

Interesting Marijuana Facts You Should Know
Interesting Marijuana Facts You Should Know

June 23, 2017 1 Comment

Marijuana is definitely going mainstream, despite the fact that it's still "illegal", the regulatory enforcement forces are getting relaxed by minute everyday. I was crossing the Canadians borders back to the States the other day, and officer chuckled when he knew I have an Online Smoke Shop business and I called it 421Store (as soon as I don't have the herb itself on me), At some point during the interaction, I felt he almost gonna ask me for a joint.

Anyways, back to what we were talking about. Now, you can use marijuana recreationally in eight states. Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington — and the District of Columbia.

Other than recreationally use, there are 21 other states allow the possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Read More