Alcohol vs Marijuana – Comparative Essay

Common Nonsense In America, competition always comes in two’s, in the political landscape we have the Republicans versus the Democrats, the forever dueling Coca-Cola and Pepsi, fast food giants Burger King and McDonalds, but when it comes to inebriation only two substances remain, Marijuana and Alcohol. Both of these substances continue to be an ever growing source of debate throughout the United States. But while Alcohol is legal, marijuana remains illegal. Making a substance illegal would mean that it is detrimental to a persons’ mental and physical state, therefore, a legal substance is by definition healthier.

But what if that isn’t the case? According to the World Health Organization, in the year 2011 four percent of deaths worldwide are attributed to Alcohol usage while a total of zero deaths in all of medical history are linked to marijuana usage. So why is Alcohol legal while Marijuana is not? Marijuana or Cannabis, has been described by an administrative law judge at the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration as, “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. ”(3) The federal government even reports that over 100 million U.

S. Citizens admit to smoking Marijuana yet they still deem it as one of society’s most dangerous drugs. One might wonder how a substance demonized by many of America’s elected officials remains so popular among the American public. “Perhaps the answer is that politicians and the main stream media are just reinforcing each others talking points, while much of the rest of America now accepts Hizer marijuana for what it is, a relatively safe substance that is frequently used responsibly by million of people.

” (Chelsea Green, 2009) Well, that may be the case for a certain segment of the population, but this enlightened attitude is far from universal. So just how many Americans regularly consume pot and alcohol? According to 2007 data published by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 66 percent of the population aged twelve or older (roughly 163 million Americans) consumed alcohol during the past year, and just over half of all Americans (127 million) drink booze regularly. In comparison, how many Americans regularly smoke pot?

Every year, researchers from the United States Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) poll Americans regarding their use of licit and illicit substances. According to SAMHSA roughly 25 million Americans have consumed cannabis in the past year, and 15 million define themselves as monthly users. Despite pot’s popularity, surveys indicate that many people still hold many misconceptions about the plant and its effects. “In fact, some one-fifth to one-third of Americans assume that pot is more harmful than alcohol.

Another one-third of Americans consider marijuana to be equally as harmful as alcohol. ”(Chelsea green, 2009) No one is saying cannabis is harmless. Nevertheless, almost all drugs, including many that are legal, pose greater threats to individual health when compared to marijuana . “To date, virtually every federally commissioned government study ever conducted on the subject affirms this conclusion. ” (3) So what does the government say about alcohol? First and foremost, Alcohol is significantly more addictive than marijuana.

Chronic alcohol use, as well as over-indulgence, can lead to organ damage and death. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 35,000 Americans die annually as the direct result of alcohol consumption. By contrast, no study to date has ever identified a link Hizer between long-term marijuana use and increased mortality. Alcohol use is associated with a wide variety of cancers, including cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, lungs, pancreas, liver and prostate. Marijuana use has not been conclusively associated with any form of cancer.

In fact, one study conducted for Cancer prevention research, contradicts the long-time government claim that marijuana use is associated with head and neck cancers. It found that marijuana use actually reduced the likelihood of head and neck cancers. Because marijuana is most commonly consumed by inhaling smoke, it is understandable to be concerned about its effects on the lungs. Well it just so happens that the largest case-controlled study ever was conducted to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking and cigarette smoking. Released in 2006, the study, conducted by Dr.

Donald Tashkin at the University of California at Los Angeles, found that marijuana smoking was not associated with an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Surprisingly, the researchers found that people who smoked marijuana actually had lower incidences of cancer compared to non-users of the drug. So how does one act when under the influence of these substances? Alcohol has been shown, in contrast to marijuana, to fuel aggressive, violent behavior. According to the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, this is because: “Cannabis differs from alcohol in one major respect.

It does not seem to increase risk-taking behavior. This means that cannabis rarely contributes to violence either to others or to oneself, whereas alcohol use is a major factor in deliberate self-harm, domestic accidents and violence. “(9) In another study of domestic violence, researchers found that men were eight times more likely to be abusive on days when they consumed alcohol as compared to days when they did not. Overall, the U. S. Government estimates that alcohol contributes to 25 to 30 percent of all violent crime in America. If Alcohol is clearly the more harmful substance, why is it so widely accepted? What.

Hizer effects do various forms of media, such as movies, television, and magazines have on the public’s view of these illicit substances? Both booze and pot have been woven into the fabric of America’s popular culture, but they are usually portrayed in entirely different ways. “The use of alcohol by adults is marketed aggressively, celebrated openly, and is normally depicted by the media in a positive manner. ”(Chelsea Green, 2009) That’s why most Americans give little, if any, thought to the moral and health issues surrounding the use of alcohol. People never really think about how or why they’re consuming alcohol.

Rather, the use of alcohol is simply viewed as a traditionally and socially acceptable means to complement a festive occasion. A billion dollars is invested by Alcohol companies to provide TV advertisements that reinforce this very belief. While cultural references to cannabis may not be as common as those pertaining to booze, “they are becoming more prevalent and prominent even if the plant’s illicit status discourages many of its consumers from identifying themselves publicly. ”(Hochman Joel, 1972) For instance, references and stories about the use of pot are widespread in popular music.

It extends to all genres, such as; reggae, country, hip hop, and rock and roll. But not limited to the music world, many successful movies and television show such as Weeds, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Half Baked, and Pineapple Express prove the American public’s fondness for marijuana. While looking for secondary sources I began to notice a large amount of contradicting claims between websites. One of the credible studies I listed above claimed that marijuana does not cause various forms of cancer and has in fact been known to prevent these cancers. I would later stumble upon a website that claimed the exact opposite.

This website begins to inform the reader that Alcohol consists of one substance only: ethanol. While, “Marijuana contains more than 400 known chemicals, including the same cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke. ”(2) Hizer Are they trying to say that because alcohol consists of less chemicals it is better for us? Even the government sponsored website www. drugabuse. gov denies that marijuana has been linked to cancer. They also only use the example of smoking marijuana when it is rolled in cigarette paper as opposed to the much healthier alternatives.

It reads on, “Not unlike cigarette smokers, pot smokers tend to inhale deeply and hold the smoke as long as possible to increase the effect of the drug, worsening the damage to the lungs. ” (2)A nice subtle reference that compares pot users with cigarette addiction . “Alcohol is eliminated from the body in a few hours, but THC stays in the body for weeks, possibly months, depending on the length and intensity of usage. ” (2) This website is ironically titled “www. drugfreeworld. com” so trying to promote a drug free world by endorsing another drug such as alcohol as opposed to Marijuana.

The part that baffles me the most is the fact this website was suggested to me in a key word search. We need to clean up, or, at least update these misinforming biased websites before we can even think people are going to start losing their post Reefer Madness phobias. Reefer Madness is a reference to the Anti-marijuana propaganda film that aired in 1936. I watched the film and can offer this synopsis, the film portrayed people using marijuana and literally going crazy. And by crazy I mean murdering people, hysterically laughing (that part might be true), screaming, and jumping out of windows.

Our grandparents probably saw or heard about this movie, and then a year later in 1937 Marijuana was made illegal on a federal level. This correlation must have sealed the deal on peoples beliefs towards marijuana. If the movie depicts marijuana usage in a negative way, and then a year later the government actually makes it illegal, one would think the negativity to be true. Thus, this negativity is then passed down from generation to generation causing it to become common knowledge that smoking pot is taboo and morally wrong.

This potent combination of government and general media is causing people to jump to this conclusion that alcohol is safer to use. But as unbiased medical facts Hizer start to surface, hopefully common knowledge will take over. The younger generations are starting to realize pot for what it is, and more importantly, what it is not. It really is simply a matter of time before marijuana is legal throughout the United States. The question is, Where will you stand when the battle for marijuana legalization rages? For those of you still convinced alcohol is the safer alternative it may time for you to wake up and smell the pot leafs.

Hizer Works Cited 1. ) Fox, Steve, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert. Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Pub. , 2009. Print 2. ) “Drug Free World: Substance & Alcohol Abuse, Education & Prevention. ” Drug Free World: Substance & Alcohol Abuse, Education & Prevention. Drug Free World Organization, 2006. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. . 3. ) “Marijuana vs. Alcohol. ” SAFER – Marijuana vs. Alcohol. SAFER Organization, 31 Jan. 2007. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. 4. ) Armentano, Paul. “Alternet | Alternative News and Information. ” Alternet. N. p. , 27 Oct. 2007. Web. 07 Nov. 2012.

5. ) “National Institute on Drug Abuse. ” National Institute on Drug Abuse. United States Goverment, Nov. 2010. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. 6. ) “Marijuana Vs. Alcohol for Teen-Agers. ” New York Times. (1992). Print 7. ) Alcohol Research & Health: The Journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Rockville, Md. : Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, 1999. Print 8. ) Hochman, Joel S. Marijuana and Social Evolution. Englewood Cliffs, N. J: Prentice-Hall, 1972. Print. 9. ) “Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs. ” Home Office. Goverment of the United Kingdom, n. d. Web. 07 Nov. 2012. .