Getting drunk seems to be socially acceptable these days, while others are busy fighting the stigma against cannabis when it has proven to be so much safer.
As the U.S. goes into the original green holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, could there be a change coming? American’s started celebrating the Irish Saint in 1601, when the country was still a British colony. New York City hosts the largest parade in the world and Chicago dyes their river green to get in the mood. Astronauts on board the international Space Station celebrates St. Patrick Day with notable celebrations by Catherine Coleman and Chris Hadfield.
But with those who celebrate drinking an average of 4.2 glasses per person, is change coming with the legal introduction of a more health-friendly option? A new poll conducted by YouGov reveals that more people see the health benefits of cannabis especially compared to alcohol.
The poll surveyed 10,412 Americans and found that 27% of respondents think it would be better if people consumed cannabis instead of alcohol, but 20% said that they think it’s a bad idea. Meanwhile, 38% said that it would neither be bad or good, and 15% weren’t sure. With a 153% spike in spirits sales on March 17, this could be good news for the marijuana market and worrying news for alcohol companies.
When it comes to the demographic breakdown of participants, the poll’s results showed that Democrats were more likely to support switching from cannabis to alcohol (34%) compared to 18% of Republicans and 27% of independents. Additionally, the participants aged 30 through 44 were more likely to say that using cannabis in place of alcohol was better, while only 17% of respondents aged 65 and up said the same.
Why Cannabis Is The Safer, Healthier Option
The federal government has far too long kept cannabis illegal, and prohibition has done nothing good. They wanted us to believe that cannabis is dangerous, and should then be kept illegal no matter what. Throughout the past decades, the federal government has spread lies and funded studies that only focus on the harms on marijuana, not even mentioning the millions they have spent on television ads that only want to convince people that cannabis is a horrible drug that will turn you into a jobless couch potato.
The truth couldn’t be further especially when you compare it with alcohol.
Many of us use cannabis in the same way we consume alcohol: hanging out with friends, unwinding after work, etc. There are also those who consume it exclusively for its medicinal benefits.
The harmful side effects of consuming alcohol has been well-documented over the past few decades. Over 17 million people struggle with dependence or addiction of alcohol in one way or another, yet the government hasn’t done anything to restrict access to it.
But why would you replace cannabis for your alcohol habit?
Let’s look at the numbers: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 30,000 deaths in the United States each year are attributed to alcohol. Meanwhile, they don’t even have an existing category discussing the health risks of cannabis. Additionally, the American Scientist reports that booze is a dangerous drug, and consuming it only 10 times could already lead to health impacts so severe it could be fatal.
Then there are also the dangers that it poses to society. Domestic violence and drunk driving have destroyed families and lives, yet cannabis doesn’t even come close to these dangers. In fact, it benefits societies where it’s legalized.
There was also a study in 2018 conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. They analyzed data on the impacts of cannabis and alcohol on the brain, and it also required them to assess brain images of 853 adults from the age of 18 to 55, including 439 teenagers from 14 to 18. All the study participants had varying consumptions in their cannabis and alcohol use.
They found that consuming alcohol was linked to long-term changes on the brain’s white and gray matter while cannabis was not found to have any significant long-term impacts on the structure of the brain.
“When you look at these studies going back years, you see that one study will report that marijuana use is related to a reduction in the volume of the hippocampus. The next study then comes around, and they say that marijuana use is related to changes in the cerebellum,” explained Kent Hutchinson, one of the study’s co-authors. “The point is that there’s no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures.”
Another study published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that cannabis is at least 114 times less deadly compared to alcohol. Researchers studied seven drugs including booze as well as tobacco, ecstasy, cocaine, heroine, marijuana, and methamphetamines. There are also studies that show cannabis is the safest recreational drug out there but this study proves just how significant the discrepancies are.
Researchers compared a lethal dose of each of the drugs for the study, and the amount normally consumed. Cannabis tested lowest and it was the only one out of the substances that had a “low mortality risk” associated with consuming it, while others were high or medium.
The Role Of Public Policy
Keeping cannabis illegal at the federal level has not only been futile but it has also been dangerous. Meanwhile, just about anyone can easily buy and access alcohol: getting a fake ID to purchase it at a store is too easy, and kids can access their parents’ stash right at home. Getting drunk seems to be socially acceptable these days while others are busy fighting the stigma against cannabis when it has proven to be so much safer.
Thanks to cannabis legalization spreading wider and wider each year, more people have options on how they celebrate. With two thirds of Americans saying they will try weed when it is fully legal, future celebrations and parades may have a more chill look. Of course, the green of the holiday and general celebration would be a natural holiday to embrace more than a four leaf clover.