Yesterday I was involved in a discussion regarding comparing marijuana to alcohol as far as it's safety, all spurred by a post made on the Devil's Network.
Here is a rundown of the conversation (poster's name has been removed to protect identity):
POSTER: "I've seen this way too much on my feed lately, so here are my two cents. If you want to legalize marijuana, or allow medical marijuana, then go ahead, I really don't care. But stop pretending it's so much better than alcohol. I have personally seen families torn apart because one person uses marijuana and can't handle it... just like alcohol. It's an addicting substance to some, just like alcohol. It alters your mind and personality just like alcohol. So make it legal, I honestly don't care, but stop acting like it doesn't have the same impacts that alcohol does and that it won't screw up the lives of some folks."
ME: "Can you die from marijuana? Can you smoke or ingest so much that it shuts down the part of the brain responsible for breathing like alchohol? Can someone die from marijuana poisoning? Nope. No cases recorded ever of any of that happening. The gateway theory has also been debunked time and time again. For some people anything can be addictive. Alcohol. Pot. Cheeseburgers. Sex. Video games. Gambling. I've seen lives destroyed due to all of those. I can go across the street right now and buy enough alchohol to kill myself, and no one will stop me because it's completely legal.
But if I want to smoke a little pot to calm down the bullshit that goes on in my head for a little while (I went through all the pharmaceuticals and other doctor-prescribed remedies) people who don't understand the first thing about cannabis, it's chemicals, usage effects, or anything other than the fear mongering crap that people like Jeff Sessions and Kevin Sabat peddle want to try and tell me I don't have the right to use a naturally occurring plant that that doesn't have the risks associated with the meds I took for years (and still have withdrawal side effects from even though it's been a couple years), like death, psychosis, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc?
I don't doubt that you have seen some people that couldn't handle pot. Those people exist. There are also people who shouldn't drink alcohol. I don't drink liquor anymore because it makes me stupid and I can't handle it. If you have evidence showing how marijuana causes severe health issues and dependence like alcohol I'm all ears. I ask people for evidence of these claims, but all I get is YouTube videos and blog posts.
While the American government says pot is just as bad as heroin and being schedule 1 so we don't have the right to research (and the crap the Government grows in Mississippi for "research" is so subpar quality compared to what is available in both the recreational and medical markets it makes sense that the government won't let anyone else grow for research) , Israel is the biggest cannabis researcher in the world. Lots of solid, scientically verifiable and reproducible results that don't paint the picture that has been pushed on us regarding marijuana."
POSTER: "... if pot didn't alter a person's mood, mental outlook and or personality no one would use it. And in that regard it's just like alcohol. I don't care if it's legalized. I just get sick of hearing how wonderful it is compared to alcohol when both are doing basically the same thing."
ME: "I'm not arguing that cannabis alters a person's mood. That's a known fact, and the reason it is used for treatments for conditions like PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc etc. Anyone who is using it for any of these conditions needs to know that there are risks associated like possible increased anxiety, paranoia, etc etc. All medications have side effects, and anyone taking them should know those before doing so.
Using the argument that cannabis is the same as alcohol because it alters moods and personalities, you are also saying that heroin is no different than alcohol because it, too, alters moods and personalities. Same goes for Xanax, Valium, Lexapro, Prozac, and all these pharmaceutical medications, all of which have side effects that may not agree with the person, like suicidal thoughts, mood swings, depression, and the list goes on and on, and all of which are taken recreationally/misused by some people.
I'm not arguing that these substances, including cannabis, alter mood and personality. I'm not arguing that there are some people who shouldn't use things like alcohol, cannabis, anti-depressants, opiod pain killers, and other medications/substances that are psychoactive. Like you said, they don't have the same effect on everyone. That is very important for people to know. Unfortunately people aren't being educated about these risks.
Here is a comparison of 1 statistic across some of these substances (with sources):
Alcohol Related Deaths - 88,000 - https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.../alcohol-facts-and-statistics
Antidepressant Related Deaths - 40,000 - https://articles.mercola.com/.../tips-to-avoiding...
Opiod Related Deaths - 64,000, and going up - https://www.drugabuse.gov/.../trends.../overdose-death-rates
Cannabis Related deaths - 0 - https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Marijuana.pdf
Sure, can someone get high and do something stupid like try and run across in front of a train and get smashed to bits? Absolutely. I've seen a lot more behavior like that with alcohol and meth. Equating cannabis, which is not on record anywhere being fatal, ever, as the DEA admits in their .pdf above, with a substance that kills tens of thousands of people every year just because they both alter moods and personality doesn't hold water. Or whiskey.
Again, I'm not arguing the fact that there are some people that misuse cannabis. There are also lots more that misuse alcohol, primarily due to it's legal status vs. cannabis, but along with the changes in mood and behavior that go with it, the health problems it causes are way beyond anything that has been tied to cannabis.
People being ignorant of a substance, or of their own susceptibility to certain types of substances, and thereby becoming overly dependent on said substance does not substantiate unfounded claims and declarations that two substances are the same because they happen to share a side-effect.
There is lots of data already out there for the argument of "Is marijuana safer than alcohol?". All of that data says Yes. Cannabis, even with it's risks, is safer than alcohol."
POSTER: "I had a professor who once told me you can find a statistic to support anything. What you can't do is tell someone who had actually personally experienced something that those stats mean more than the bullshit they have been through."
I have had personal experiences, as well, which have formed my strong opinion regarding cannabis. Those experiences include dependence on alcohol and the problems it caused, as well as antidepressants/antipsychotics/PTSD meds.
As I mentioned, I do believe marijuana can cause harm when used irresponsibly. However, when you can contribute thousands upon thousands of deaths to alcohol and other drugs, and ZERO with marijuana, the evidence for safety is pretty clear. Anyone can be addicted to and abuse things like cheeseburgers, sex, video games, television, and any other activity or substance to which they form a bond.
What do you think? Is Marijuana just as dangerous, or more so, than alcohol?