Steven Maxwell, Contributor
With the battle for the legalization of marijuana being considered one of the more prevalent issues in today’s society, it is upon scientists and researchers to now look deeper into the chemical makeup of marijuana and indicate whether smoking marijuana yields less dangerous side effects than consuming alcohol.
In this article by NBC, marijuana is grouped first among nine other drugs including heroin and hallucinogens and was considered the safest by a landslide. Then, when compared to alcohol and tobacco, marijuana was considered “by far…the safest, even when compared to alcohol and cigarettes.”
The article then follows to discuss the long-term effects of both recreational and chronic use of marijuana as compared to alcohol and tobacco. The findings showed that chronic tobacco and alcohol consumption led to serious intestinal problems and cancer, while chronic marijuana use was loosely linked to some lung problems and early onset psychosis. The only threat that chronic marijuana usage poses is developmental issues in young adolescents.
If marijuana were to be considered legal, it would likely be regulated by the ATF, just like alcohol and tobacco, and these factors would be taken into consideration when determining what the legal consumption age would be, dosages available, and so forth.
The US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health have provided details and statistics regarding “illicit” drug usage. For more information about the statistics and scientific reasoning behind the findings listed in this article, see here for more information.
See the simple meme below for the common-sense comparison of marijuana versus alcohol:
Keeping to the topic of regulation, the thought of legalizing marijuana becomes a little less intimidating to some, but not all. April M. Short posted an article on Salon.com that recounted the impression that a commercial about marijuana shown during a NASCAR race left on its viewers. Essentially, the commercial advocated that marijuana was a safer and more health-conscious alternative to drinking beer, with beer drinkers being one of NASCAR’s targeted audiences.
The goal was to show marijuana in a more positive, appealing light, but it was quickly pulled due to negative responses by the viewers. The MPP (Marijuana Policy Project) stated that its intentions were good and that their goal is “to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and replace fiction with facts about marijuana use.”
By providing statistical evidence through the length of the article, especially focusing on illness and death counts, Short’s aim is to convince her audience through scientific findings that marijuana is pinned as the “bad guy,” but in reality is actually less addictive and poses no recorded overdose, abuse, or fatality risks, while alcohol and tobacco have annual numbers in the thousands.
By accessing the official MPP website, those who are curious to read statistics about marijuana use and its comparison to alcohol and tobacco use are welcomed with straightforward, research-based facts. Addiction is one of the points that is repeated throughout marijuana research, and the results were recorded as:
A comprehensive federal study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine arrived at a similar conclusion: ‘Millions of Americans have tried marijuana, but most are not regular users [and] few marijuana users become dependent on it … [A]lthough [some] marijuana users develop dependence, they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.’
Low addiction rates yield more welcoming reviews when posed next to other drugs, such as alcohol, which has a high addiction rate as well as higher rates of illnesses and death. Marijuana has been pinned as a “gateway” drug to harder substances such as pills, heroin, and hallucinogens, and has also gained a “lazy” stereotype, leaving people with the impression that marijuana users do nothing productive; they just kick back on the couch and smoke for days on end. Even if they did, which is not recommended, there is no documented “overdose amount” for marijuana. There are not any DEA categories for marijuana-related causes of death to date.
Using mortality as an attention-grabbing basis for research, this article written by Justin Alford discusses the rates and causes of death that are brought on by drug and/or alcohol use. The opening statement ends with the credited phrase “alcohol is the deadliest, while marijuana is the least risky” which is used to uphold viewer engagement and encouraging them to keep reading.
The article proceeds to discuss how these marijuana statistics are out for the public knowledge, but are not advertised because they are not what the government wants the public to see.
With an anti-marijuana legalization mindset, the government wants to uphold the “lazy,” “deadbeat,” and “dangerous” lifestyle terms that are pinned on marijuana users. Alford ends the article with a though-provoking message: “time would be better spent focusing on managing the risks of alcohol and tobacco, rather than illegal drugs”, which is directed toward the policing of marijuana usage. Which, after reading through articles about legalization, makes perfect sense.
Why is the federal government focusing so intensely on a substance that does not yield any life-threatening issues, when tobacco and alcohol provably cause illness and death counts in the thousands?
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