Marijuana vs. Alcohol in the United States
Marijuana vs. Alcohol In The United States Marijuana and alcohol are the two most threatening drugs used in America today. Marijuana is the most illicit drug while alcohol is the most abused. Both were illegal during the prohibition but when the constitution was ratified in 1933 alcohol was made legal while marijuana remained illegal. It does not mean that because alcohol is still legal it’s less dangerous than marijuana. Both drugs lead to serious risks and should be taken with caution if used.
Marijuana is a mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems and flowers from a hemp plant better know as Cannabis sativa. Uses of marijuana can be recreational or medical and the earliest recorded uses date from the 3rd millennium BC. (Rudgley, “The Lost Civilizations”) Tetrahydrocannabinol also known as THC is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects. THC stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine and causes euphoria like feeling. While the most popular use is for recreational purposes, it is proven that it can help in the medical field also.
Even medical marijuana is illegal in most states. Supporters of medical marijuana argue that it can be safe and effective against AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma and other conditions. Nonetheless, abusing marijuana can lead to problem with learning, memory and social behavior. It can also interfere with family, work and other activities. But there are many in favor for cannabis like Bob Marley a famous musician and known for his use of marijuana describes in an interview “Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction”.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Alcohol affects every organ in the body. Individual reactions to alcohol vary and are influenced by many factors such as age, gender, physical condition, how quickly the alcohol was consumed, etc. Alcohol starts to affect the brain within five minutes of being consumed. Drinking alcohol leads to loss of coordination, poor judgment, memory lapses and even blackouts. Alcohol is a drug; so mixing it with any other drug can be extremely dangerous.
Drinking excessively over a period of time can cause problems with relationships, money or the law. It can also cause severe health problems and even death. From 2001 to 2005 the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports on average more than 79,000 deaths per year was caused by excessive alcohol use. (CDC, “Vital Signs”) Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking and any drinking by pregnant women or minors. On the other hand, the CDC does not have a category for deaths caused by the use of marijuana.
Statistically, death directly from marijuana overdose is extremely rare. However, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data, there were a total of 1. 5 million drug arrests nationwide in 2011 and out of those arrests around 750,000 were for marijuana alone. (FBI, “Person’s Arrested”) While both alcohol and marijuana should not be taken with any other drug and getting behind the wheel while drunk or high poses significant risk to everyone. Alcohol is still vastly greater in number when it comes to death than marijuana but then again one is legal while the other one is not.
The legalization of marijuana has been an argument for over 70 years. Even though voters helped to legalize the drug in Colorado and Washington, it’s still legal for the rest of the United States. There are many pros and cons for marijuana legalization. For example, it could increase the number of children using the drug if it was legal. Whereas if the drug were to be decriminalized there would be a large reduction of the prison population while saving government costs. Our economy could benefit through taxing marijuana.
In 2010, CNBC reported that legalization could make it a $100 billion industry in America depending on how the government would tax on the sale and the distribution of the plant. (Nelson, “How Big Is the Marijuana Market? “) The possibilities are fascinating but what if alcohol was made illegal. If alcohol were criminalized then hundreds of thousands of people who worked in the business would be out of jobs. Bootlegging and organized crimes would be on the rise. It would surely change the drinking habits of our country and would greatly decrease the number of drinking problems today.
Although marijuana is less harmful than other legal drugs, has various medical benefits and legalizing it would bring economic benefits. While alcohol causes numerous deaths a year but if outlawed could lead to more harm than good. Both are very different from each other and possess the potential for unique risks or benefits. In any case, they both should not be taken with any other drug and getting behind the wheel while drunk or high poses significant risk to everyone. Marijuana and alcohol will continue to be the most used and abused drugs in America. Nevertheless they should always be dealt with caution and never be taken for granted.