Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Is marijuana safer than beer?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) December 14th, 2013

This video of a current advertisement says so. I’d like to see discussion of the question on its merits rather than a slippery slope claim. If marijuana ia actually less harmful and intoxicating than alcohol, why would marijuana necessarily lead people to try harder drugs while the more potent alcohol would not? Is it time to legalize, regulate and tax pot?

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59 Answers

Seek's avatar

Gods, I wish they would just legalize everything so the Cult of Mary Jane would shut the eff up already.

Look, if you want to smoke pot recreationally, do it. I don’t give a shit. You don’t need to justify your recreational choice to me or anyone else by claiming it’s some ancient medicine that will give you superpowers and make the sun shine out of your arse. You’re smoking because you like how it makes you feel, and it hasn’t killed you yet. More power to you. I’m not sitting here claiming that gin cures the common cold, am I? No. I’m not. I drink gin because I like it. It tastes good and allows me to sit in a room with a bunch of people I don’t particularly like without wanting to rip my hair out.

This is the general “you”, not actually directed at @ETpro

Smitha's avatar

Basically they are both highly dangerous! Legalizing Marijuana will put a large number of the illegal drug dealers out of business, which will make our children safer. Moreover it will generate huge tax revenue.
But I don’t agree with the ”One drug is better than the other” argument! It’s just lame!

bolwerk's avatar

What is safe probably depends on the context. Beer has long-term health benefits in moderation, but can impair driving and alcohol is probably more physically addictive, at least to people with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. I think there is concern that heavy, long-term use of marijuana correlates to certain mental disorders, but I don’t know the causal relation.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Exactly what @Seek_Kolinahr said. So sick of the legalizing marijuana debate. I wish they’d just do it so I don’t have to hear about it anymore.

Yeah, I’d sooner get in a car driven by someone that just smoked a joint versus someone that just drank five beers – not that I’d ever have to make such a decision. “Marijuana ain’t a drug, it’s a plant” – yeah, so is cocaine, but no one is lobbying to legalize that shit. “Marijuana isn’t addictive” – bullshit. “Marijuana cures what ails you” – double bullshit. But it’s probably the lesser of the evils as far as harming others, so why not? Go ahead and smoke weed, just don’t expect me to be around your stupid high ass.

@Smitha Pot dealers are not the ones making kids unsafe. They’ll just find something else to sell – cocaine anyone? Pills? Molly? That is, if they haven’t already. Selling weed on the street corner doesn’t exactly bring in a huge revenue. Users by from their friends, not some dealer hiding in a shady alley.

Seek's avatar

It’s not like anyone is having a hard time finding weed if they want to, anyway. You don’t need street-corner pot hustlers. Just go outside. Your neighbor probably has some.

LilCosmo's avatar

All I know or sure is that if my kid was going to experiment, I would much rather they experiment with marijuana than with alcohol. I have seen many lives forever destroyed by alcohol. I have seen zero destroyed by smoking dope recreationally. I do not and never will buy the slippery slope argument. That argument is just a finely honed, overused weapon in the arsenal of alarmists and pharmaceutical companies who have a vested interest in keeping pot illegal.

@Livelovelaugh2, I wouldn’t be so sure about marijuana helping “what ails you” being double bullshit. I think once big pharma stops fighting it, there will be plenty of studies showing the medicinal benefits of marijuana. It may not be a cure, but there is no doubt that it can help with many health related issues from chronic pain to seizures.

It is absolutely time to legalize, regulate, and tax pot.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I prefer potheads over juiceheads any day and I suspect pot is a lot less damaging. But I prefer people undiminished by any substances. I read once that there is no fatal dose for cannabis, but there is for alcohol. I think it was the DSM-III or IV, I can’t remember. That’s something, anyway.

My experience has been that a person who does any mind altering substance on a daily basis is a fuckup and quickly becomes incompetent and careless which, for me, qualifies them as a confirmed fuckup. I don’t like fuckups. They are annoying and can endanger other people. They are especially useless—even dangerous—on a boat. Potheads are, at least, quite mellow most of the time, but they are still useless fuckups while they are high. And they are annoying as hell.

The worst fuckup I can think of is the alcoholic. I cut them no slack. They are the ultimate fuckups and, because their favorite drug is so accessible and acceptable, they can be fuckups at will for decades and do immeasurable damage to the people around them before—they finally fucking die, hopefully during one of their fuckups. They are numerous and they invariably turn mean. The exception is that rare animal that can have one or two drinks before or after dinner with a little wine and can still act like a civilized human being. In other words, they can hold their liquor and choose safe environments to drink in.

bolwerk's avatar

Marijuana is not addictive in the sense alcohol is, but it’s certainly habit-forming. There is no fatal dose for cannabis, AFAIK, but being high on cannabis can still cause impairment and long-term use correlates to some troubling health problems.

@Espiritus_Corvus: most westerners have a few drinks with dinner and still act like civilized human beings, at least sometimes. Having drink with dinner is a mark of civilization. Also, alcohol evidently prolongs human life. God probably did this to annoy teetotalers. If He did more things to annoy prigs, I might start believing in Him.

Bill1939's avatar

Any substance that one takes frequently to feel good will be addictive. Most intoxicating substances are toxic when taken to excess. However, pot is not one of these. Inhaling smoke is harmful to the lungs, regardless of what one burns. Pot does reduce glaucoma, intraocular fluid pressure. It also stimulates appetite for those suffering the effects of chemotherapy. If it were legal, I would use it.

Coloma's avatar

I agree, booze is the worst of all evils. Nothing worse than a stupid, sloppy drunk, or a maudlin drunk or an obnoxious drunk. I enjoy a few beers or a little champagne on occasion but I have no issues with mood changes or other behavioral issues. I much prefer a little marijuana, brings out my creative side, and desire to bask in nature.

bolwerk's avatar

Booze: just like pedophilia!

Linda_Owl's avatar

I certainly believe that marijuana is a lot less toxic to the human body than is alcohol. Just think about the fact that a rich kid caused an accident that killed 4 people & all he got was Probation (clearly the US no longer has a ‘Justice System’). Personally, I would like to see marijuana become legal…. just think about how far the taxes would go to help the states where budget short-falls are a fact of life.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Agreed. Yes, that “Affluenza” story, unbelievable!

bolwerk's avatar

You live in a revanchist country now. There is a set of rules for brownskins and poor people and a set of rules for the wealthy.

Of course, the problem with the 16-year-old wasn’t drinking and drug use so much as letting a 16-year-old drive. But nobody even cares about that because, hurrr substance abuse! Economic angst!

Rarebear's avatar

Depends. Moderate amounts of alcohol are probably beneficial. High dose alcohol kills. I know of no long term health benefits of marijuana, although it’s beneficial for symptom relief in certain situations. There may be long term harm in terms of cognitive ability and lung disease if smoked.

LilCosmo's avatar

@Rarebear is there any evidence that you have seen that vaporizing pot is safer than smoking a joint? Just curious.

Rarebear's avatar

@LilCosmo I don’t know. It makes sense that it would be somewhat safer, but I’m wary of any chemical that is inhaled. I’ve seen a lot of cases of lung disease from chronic toxin inhalation (although none from marijuana AFAIK).

Blackberry's avatar

^
Hey guys, this physician just said we can smoke all the weed we want and not get lung disease. Brb, buying a pound.

linguaphile's avatar

Marijuana kills… not the user, but those along the trade routes

Alcohol can kill people who imbibe too much. Nobody dies in the marketing or trading of alcohol.

I live in Colorado—they’re doing it right, legalizing pot. I don’t smoke, get no enjoyment from it, but do support its legalization.

Rarebear's avatar

@Blackberry Yes, that’s exactly what I said. :-)

bolwerk's avatar

@linguaphile: the state kills those along the trade routes then. End the war on drugs and that kind of nonsense stops.

jonsblond's avatar

There is some evidence that occasional pot smoking may improve lung function. http://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20120103/marijuana-smoking-not-linked_to-chronic-breathing-problems

(Last year I was told I could possibly have lung cancer. I spent many late nights researching the effects of marijuana use on the lungs. That’s how I found this bit of information.)

Here’s another interesting link: effects of marijuana smoking on the lungs

Rarebear's avatar

@jonsblood. On the road. I’ll read the links later.

DWW25921's avatar

Yes. Um… That’s all I got.

bea2345's avatar

A six-month survey of the medical wards at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital [Trinidad and Tobago] in 1979 showed that 47% of male admissions and 5% of female admissions were alcohol-related..

Quote is from the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004. There is no reason to suppose that the figures have improved since. Do Fluthers know what the alcohol abuse statistics in their home states / countries are?

Seek's avatar

^ That is referencing auto accident injuries, not all visits to medical wards.

But sure, you can have the data for my area: Hillsborough County, FL.

9.2 in 10,000 people over age 18 will visit the hospital for alcohol abuse. The lion’s share of them will be white men between 45 and 64 years old.

“Alcohol abuse” includes alcohol dependence syndrome, nondependent alcohol abuse, alcoholic psychoses, excessive blood level of alcohol, and fetal alcohol syndrome.

http://www.healthytampabay.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=NS-Indicator&file=indicator&iid=7917739&Submit=Go

bolwerk's avatar

There is no solution to any problem except banning something and getting the police involved.

dougiedawg's avatar

Overindulging in alcohol is definitely less safe than smoking pot and getting stoned. I can tell you this from personal experience and with no ulterior motive to promote one over the other.

In fact, anyone with any experience with both substances will tell you the same thing.

The failed war on drugs in America is nothing more than a war on poor people whose fruits are the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of mostly young people, increased violence and illegal gun sales , and the creation of a growing police state in too many areas of the country. It is the worst abuse of democracy that I can think of because it has marginalized several generations of people through its creation.

It is now become an industry that continues to overburden the legal system in this country. Change is in the wind but more states need to step up and legalize marijuana sales and use.

drhat77's avatar

I think if we had all been smoking weed since Mesopotamia, but alcohol had just been discovered, alcohol would be illegal because of how intoxicating it is, and we’d have awareness campaigns against driving while toasted.

Alcohol and marijuana have two very different cultural histories. You can’t ignore these in any “legalize” marijuana discussions. The kind of people who drink recreationally seem to us different than the kind who toke up recreatioinally. Scientifically the level of intoxication may be the same, but as a society we will be always resistant to it. I don’t hold anyone’s victimless crimes against them, but I just don’t think it’s a winning battle. Go to a Pot Doc, get diagnosed with depression, and then blaze away.

Oh, @ETpro, I just realized what illegal thing I would do if it were legal, smoke pot. I almost did once when in med school, but I was worried about drug testing, so I declined.

Coloma's avatar

Well…personally, I am regular Vincent van Gogh when I imbibe in a bit o’ the herbal essence.
I LOVE how it interacts with my brain chemistry.
A few years ago I painted my living room walls an amazing metallic bronze.
Inspired by the Humboldt shrubbery my gardener gifted me.

I become a creative genius, painting, gardening, rearranging my house.
I am already a highly creative type and a little marijuana launches my rocket in a wonderful way. haha

linguaphile's avatar

Has anyone seen The House I Live In, a documentary?

Darth_Algar's avatar

I’m personally of the opinion that all drugs should be legalized. For one, prohibition is a gross violation of personal liberty. Two, prohibition creates far greater social ills than it supposedly aims to cure.

Coloma's avatar

@Darth_Algar You want to see Crack become legal?
Like family crack picnics, crack clubs, crack dispensaries? lol

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Coloma Has prohibition really stopped people from obtaining and using crack? What has prohibition accomplished? I’ll tell you what – imprisoning tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) people for using the wrong arbitrarily defined substance, the empowering of criminal cartels, the deaths of countless more (criminal, law enforcement and innocents) in the resulting wars, and the waste of billions of dollars. All the while these prohibited substances remain readily available to anyone who wants them. That is the legacy of prohibition. Is it worth it?

Rarebear's avatar

@jonsblond Just looked at your links. Did the first one reference the article? I’d like to read the original article and not the news report. The second one doesn’t have a link to the methodology, although I agree with the conclusions.

bolwerk's avatar

Crack being legal and taxed is probably preferable to the current system of crack being a big source of financing for drug gangs and mafias.

Either way, any drug use should almost never be a police issue. It’s a public health issue, and the police are by and large not trained to deal with public health issues.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I agree with @Darth_Algar , legalize(or decriminalize the use of) it all, yes even crack and heroin.

Coloma's avatar

@Darth_Algar

I agree, to a degree, but marijuana is not on the same continuum as crack and heroin.
I don’t have all the answers but I don’t think we should promote and condone hardcore drug use either. True, people have and will always find a way to obtain their drugs of choice but crack and heroin are certainly the larger of the drug evils. Then again, it is ones personal choice if they want to completely self destruct.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Coloma Just because something is decriminalized doesn’t mean it is condoned. Look at how Portugal went about their drug problem.

bolwerk's avatar

Or just look at all the moral hysteria about alcoholism here.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ I get it you guys, just have a hard time thinking of crack being legal. haha

bolwerk's avatar

I think a middle ground where manufacturing crack is illegal but possessing it is not would make more sense than the current status quo. Again, treat drug problems as public health issues.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@bolwerk No, it would not make more sense as that still empowers the criminal gangs and cartels. People are going to have it, legal or not. So, I say, legalize it so that it can be produced by legitimate manufacturers and regulated as tobacco and alcohol are.

bolwerk's avatar

@Darth_Algar: I didn’t say it was perfect. I said it was preferable to the status quo. At least that way policing can be focused on the criminal gangs instead of users, as it usually is now.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@bolwerk Yeah, I got that and I disagree that it makes more sense than the status quo. Maybe a little, but not much. It is still, in my view, a fairly nonsensical proposal.

Coloma's avatar

What about the public health issue of crack addicted babies? Okay true, we have the same issue with fetal alcohol syndrome, but legalizing extreme, hardcore drugs would be condoning untold misery of innocents IMO.
Marijuana does not cause parents to neglect their children, spend food money on drugs, become completely psychotic and violent, burden the healthcare system.
As a mother I have zero tolerance for drug addicted parents.

Seek's avatar

^ There are already drug addicted parents. You treat it the same way as you treat fetal alcohol syndrome.

Coloma's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr True, but condoning meth abuse just doesn’t seem right.
I dunno…

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Coloma If we have the same issue with alcohol then the same can be said of alcohol:legalization of alcohol is conditioning the untold misery of innocents.

Seek's avatar

I would say don’t think of it as “legalizing”, more as “not prosecuting”.

Hi, mom-to-be. You have a crack problem? Ok. Now that we’re not going to throw you in jail, you can feel free to tell us about it, so we can get you the help you need to have a healthy baby.

bea2345's avatar

Legalize or decriminalize the drugs. The money that could be saved from the interdiction effort would be available for: public education anti-drug programmes; interventions to help families and communities damaged by drug abuse; improving the education system to provide equal access to technical and academic and vocational opportunities at the tertiary level; revamping the penal system; provision of better services, especially transportation, communication and health; and so on. The list is not exhaustive and not in order of priority. I would put rebuilding the penal system in first place.

bolwerk's avatar

@Darth_Algar: if you consider saving billions of dollars in money wasted on prison for non-violent drug users modest and taking away one of the police’s Get Out of Murder Free cards, then okay. It’s very, very modest. Hardly makes sense at all.

@Coloma: I think your assumption that people would do more drugs if drugs became legal is dubious at best. Legalization opens the door to treatment in the course of prenatal care, and preventing those problems. As it stands now, drug addicts who get pregnant may not seek help out of fear of being punished. Hell, they may avoid prenatal care.

Coloma's avatar

@bolwerk

Perhaps, but…..the nature of the addiction beast does not lend itself to clear thinking and conscious choice. Same goes for alcoholics. Just because it’s legal it doesn’t mean the addict is going to seek out treatment. The relapse rate for all addiction is extremely “high.”

Darth_Algar's avatar

@bolwerk The point is it only addresses one segment of a multi-pronged problem. It’s a half measure at best. It still leaves the waste of billions of more dollars and the loss of countless lives in these drug wars.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr exactly. That is why Portugal is succeeding. People are getting help now that they were afraid to get before because it would mean going to jail.

Blackberry's avatar

I went through periods of heavy drinking and heavy smoking. Heavy drinking actually starts to hurt after awhile. It hurt my stomach and I got pains in my sides sometimes. It was strange, as the pain stopped when I stopped drinking as much. But the worst that happened from smoking everyday was being extremely lazy and a little out of shape when I tried to start exercising again.

ETpro's avatar

@Blackberry So I take it you say MJ is safer if you don’t want to be a star on Muscle Beach.

Blackberry's avatar

@ETpro Yep, working out was never my niche anyway :/

Scrawny men, unite!

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