Marijuana vs. Alcohol
By: Ariel Villafane
Marijuana vs. alcohol is a big debate that not everyone is educated on. I have chosen this topic because not only are there plenty of debates between the two, but because there are also allot of facts and discussions that need to be pointed out. My debate will be on why and how marijuana is safer than alcohol. Between marijuana and alcohol, many debates have occurred. Why is one legal and the other is not, which drug causes more violence, which one is safer, and many more. My debate between the two will not only be my own opinion, but will also have factual information. A whole lot of people do not realize the difference in these two drugs and which is safer, less abused, and which causes the most danger. Marijuana has been known as a gateway drug, causes lung cancer, and are only used by teens and adults who sit lazily at home. My topic is not only trying to get the reader to be open-minded to the truth of marijuana, but to see the differences in one of the most abused and legal drugs, alcohol. Marijuana's reputation has caused many people to be unfamiliar and uneducated about the truth. Not only is alcohol addictive, it is also very harmful, toxic, and leads to many injuries. The number of health issues, overdoses, brain damage victims, and many more fatal occurrences are much higher in people who drink alcohol than in people who use marijuana. My topic will educate and debate the differences between these two drugs.
Comparing Dangers of Popular Drugs
Marijuana's dependence, withdrawal, and tolerance are all lower than normal caffeinated drinks.
Deaths During a 10-Year Period
Cannabis has zero deaths per year whereas alcohol has 2 million deaths per year.
Alcohol Vs. Weed
Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death, violence, and crime in the U.S.
Comparing Dangers of Popular Drugs
Deaths During a 10-Year Period
Marijuana vs. Alcohol
Allot of people do not realize the effects alcohol has on the human body in comparison to marijuana. Judgement and criticism against marijuana makes the drug seem worse than the common and legal drinks that have alcohol in it. Allot of the judgement against marijuana is lack of knowledge. Most people think that marijuana smokers are lazy couch potatoes and have no motivation or guidance in their lives. People would be surprised to know that very successful and extremely intelligent, successful adults like Steve Jobs, Michael Phelps, Stephan King, and many more (“The 10 Most Successful Pot-Heads” 1) have smoked marijuana more than once in their life time. Not only should the “pot-head” stereotypes end, but people should be more aware to the fact that alcohol has been known to do more damage to the human brain than marijuana. Statistics and tests have shown that there are not only fewer crimes, domestic violence to be specific, but no deaths ever recorded from over dosing on marijuana than alcohol.
Marijuana is believed to be a gateway drug. Most people think that marijuana destroys the lives of many young peoples. Lung cancer and trying to portray marijuana users as people who work at McDonalds for the rest of their lives are all stereotypes people come up with who do not really know much about the drug. Marijuana, also known as weed, grass, hemp, mary jane, dope, and many other street-names, is an Indian hemp plant that distorts reality and the way the world is perceived. It is not a man-made drug and is also not addictive (“History of Marijuana – Drug-Free World” 1). THC is the main chemical in marijuana that goes through the blood stream after using. There are allot of ways to feel the effects of marijuana. Smoking, ingesting, and brewing it in tea are all ways to feel the THC. The THC also produces euphoria, which causes colors and sounds to be more vivid and intense (“Understanding Marijuana and THC” 1).
Alcohol, a depressant, is a fermented drink usually made from grapes and grains. When consumed, alcohol has the effect to slur speech, slow reaction times, cause unsteady movement, and many other inabilities. Overdosing on alcohol is common and can allow a person to get poisoned, sick, and/or die. Alcohol also changes the way one views the world. It makes some people very goofy and others to be aggressive and uncontrollable. Alcohol is also very addictive. In 2009, 23.5 million people had problems with alcohol abuse. There are also 53% of adults who know an alcoholic and 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning and overdosage each year (“Statistics & Outcomes” 1). Other statistics show that there have been more than 16,800 deaths from liver disease and 26,700 deaths from drunk drivers and homicides. It is also said that every 30 minutes a person is killed from drunk drivers in the U.S. (“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” 1). Most people think alcohol is okay to use because it is legal and a few drinks can not do too much damage. What people do not realize is that alcohol, too, is a drug. Alcohol is the number one drug problems in the U.S. Alcohol statistics show that 75% of high schoolers, seniors especially, have been reported being drunk to school at least once. In the U.S. Today there are twelve million alcoholics and nearly seven million people from the ages twelve to twenty are binge drinkers. Out of all the alcohol cases there are 83% of homicides, 81% of domestic violence, 73% are felonies, 73% of child abuse, and 41% of rape cases (“Alcohol Abuse Statistics” 1). Alcohol does not only effect those who drink but can also effect the lives of others who may not have even touched a drink in their lives before.
Although marijuana has not killed as many people as alcohol has, there are very few consequences in using it. The increase of heart rate and blood pressure is not exactly healthy for the human body but is not bad enough for a person to overdose. There are also some development problems in the brain as it still matures and can cause someone to not remember memories easily. Altogether, marijuana is not extremely bad for the body. Marijuana can actually be good for the human body and is legalized in some states for medical purposes. Most people assume that smoking marijuana is like smoking tobacco and causes lung cancer. Studies have shown that marijuana has beneficial chemicals in it that almost eliminates the chance in getting lung cancer (Brownstein 1). In fact, some studies show that marijuana reverses the effects of tobacco use. Unlike tobacco, marijuana can increase lung capacity (Brownstein 1). Marijuana is used for diseases such as glaucoma and helps decrease the pressure in the eye, helps stop epileptic seizures for up to ten hours, decreases Dravet's Syndrome symptoms, decreases anxiety, slows down Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, PTSD, protects the brain after a stroke, and most importantly, helps cancer from spreading. A chemical in marijuana called cannabidiol turns off a gene called ID-1 and stops cancer from spreading (Loria and Welsh 1). There are many diseases and problems marijuana can and has cured.
“7 Ways Alcohol Affect Your Health” says “Drinking too much alcohol can quickly kill a person. The inability to metabolize alcohol as quickly as it is consumed can lead to a buildup of alcohol in the brain that shuts down areas necessary for survival, such as those involved with heartbeat and respiration” (1). Alcohol is also dangerous if a person is taking some prescribed medication and decides to drink afterwards. The medicine will either increase or decrease the active drug and can make a person become woozy or have increased heart rates (Brownstein 1). Liver disease, cancer, and liver fibrosis are some long-term effects that alcohol has on the body. It is also said that marijuana can even help alcoholics. There is no addiction involved in marijuana, so it gives alcoholics a little more control over their lives. Even though alcohol can be extremely bad for the human body, there are some positives effects it can have. For example, when someone is drunk, the nervous system becomes numb. This causes the muscles in their body to relax and become less tense. This can make the human body seem almost invincible (“The 6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Is Actually Good for You” 1). Some doctors have also said that alcohol can help keep the brain from swelling and prevent death from brain trauma. This is because the body's inflammable response is suppressed (“The 6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Is Actually Good for You” 1).
There are few similarities between alcohol and marijuana. They can both be easily abused and both can harm the body in some way. However, crime and violence, impaired judgment and performance, and death are some major differences between the two. Although it is safer to use neither drug, which is the safest? The fact that marijuana has an advantage over alcohol due to medical purposes proves that it is the safest. Not only is it legal in some states for recreational use, it is also becoming more popular and more helpful medically. There are several things to think about while comparing the two. Addictive vs non addictive, depressant vs anti-depressant, cancer causer vs cancer curer, 1,000,000 deaths a year vs no deaths ever recorded, toxic vs reparative, man-made vs organic, legal vs illegal. Too many close-minded people do not know the truth about marijuana and do not even realize the effects alcohol has on the body.
Which drug seems the safest to you?
Poem by Tony Alva
I like to lose myself in the urban landscape
High, in ecstasy amongst the crowd that rushes tirelessly
on coffee and cigarettes.
On buses, in cars
I sit like intrigue and good music should
My senses a blur in joy of touch and sound and taste
And I can hear nothing,
my headphones sit just right.
I seek intelligence in the sound my headphones are playing
I seek beauty in the faces of the common and simple
I find it.
I am amazed by nature and its beauty, be it the still wisdom of the trees or the embracing warmth of the sun
I'm drawn insane to it, obsessed.
Poem by Gigi Tiji
spark of life
leaves crackle and
explode into breath
in deep romance, my
lungs kiss smoke
and Spirit expands within
soaking through skin
deep into my roots dripping
into channels of rivers flowing
freely to my brain crackling
with neurons ever grasping
dendritically to reach
white birch lightning
Poem by Anonymous
It is easy to follow the crowd
to get lost in others opinions.
Its easy to judge something
you don't know about.
The opinions and the rules
are all right in front of you
But have you ever stopped to think
which is more logical?
Marijuana is one of the most misled and misunderstood drug out there. Cannabis is a plant that is used for recreational or medical purposes. Its active ingredients include tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, had the effects to alter visual and auditory senses as well as relax the body and stimulate appetite. Fatigue and reduced aggression may also occur. Marijuana is listed by the government a schedule one drug along with heroin. The most dangerous drugs are classified in schedule one and that means that marijuana is more dangerous than schedule two drugs. Schedule two drugs consist of methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone, adderall, and fentanyl. In 2010, there was over 3,000 deaths from heroin drug overdoses. There has never been a recorded overdose for marijuana.
Alcohol has never been classified under one of those schedules. Alcohol is a fermented drink made from grapes, sugars, and grains. Alcohol is a depressant that affects the nervous system. It is absorbed quickly through the stomach and into the bloodstream. The main ingredient in alcohol is ethanol. Ethanol causes direct damage to a persons DNA. It can also cause alterations to ones reality somewhat similar to the alterations of one who has smoked marijuana. Alcohol can cause cancer, depression, seizures, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and many more life threatening problems. Alcohol does not only effect the people who drink, but it also effects the people around them. In 2012 there was an estimation of 10,322 people who died from drunk driving.
Marijuana, which has never had a recorded death, is listed extremely dangerous along with heroin while alcohol is legal for recreational use. Alcohol is the number one abused drug in the United States and results in over 88,000 deaths per year. 25,000 of them are overdoses. Violence, addiction, and crimes are more likely to happen with an alcoholic than someone who is sober. If people smoked more marijuana and drank less alcohol there would be fewer deaths, less drunk driving fatalities, and also less violence.
Stereotypes are a downfall for marijuana. Most people think of couch potatoes and kids who are going no where with their lives. It is thought of to be a gateway drug that eats at the human body destroying the lives of thousands of teens. In reality, the THC in marijuana can actually strengthen and grow new brain cells. “TruthOnPot” says “The process of brain growth is called neurogenesis and does not usually improve with drug use. Marijuana use is a different story, explained Xia Zhang, M.D, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan and lead author of the study:
“Most ‘drugs of abuse’ suppress neurogenesis. Only marijuana promotes neurogenesis.”.”
Marijuana is used medically for many things such as, controlling seizures, stopping cancer from spreading, decreasing anxiety, and much more. Marijuana is still a mind altering drug and still has its consequences. Alcohol, which can be good if drinking in small quantities, also has its consequences. The two drugs have a little in common but so many differences and it is time to be opened minded to the truth. Which drug is the most dangerous?
A close-up of THC on a Cannabis leaf
Looking At The Facts
Which drug seems safer?
Which Drugs Are Legal.
There are zero recoded deaths from marijuana overdose.
"Alcohol Abuse Statistics." Turning Point Center Utah RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
Brownstein, By Joseph. "Marijuana vs. Alcohol: Which Is Really Worse for Your Health?" LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 July 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
E, Susan. "7 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2014.
"History of Marijuana - Drug-Free World." History of Marijuana - Drug-Free World. N.p., n.d. Web.
13 Nov. 2014.
Loria, Jennifer Welsh and Kevin. "23 Health Benefits Of Marijuana." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 20 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
"Statistics & Outcomes." Statistics and Outcomes. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
"The 6 Most Surprising Ways Alcohol Is Actually Good for You." Cracked.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
"The 10 Most Successful Potheads on the Planet… Cool Enough to Admit It." College Life, Hot Girls, Funny Pics, Sexy Cheerleaders: COED. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov.
"Understand Marijuana and THC." About. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.