The legalisation of marijuana is a hot topic in many parts of the world and especially in the US, after the US president made a statement that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. Colorado and Washington have legalised the sale of marijuana for recreational use and some having been calling for a similar amendment to Australian laws so that marijuana rather than alcohol becomes the drug of choice in popular night spots. People claim that while alcohol abuse makes drinkers violent marijuana doesn’t which may help combat alcohol violence in city hotspots.
In a recent magazine interview, President Barack Obama stated the following:
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.”
“I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” he said.
When asked whether it was less dangerous, Mr Obama said that it was less dangerous in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. “It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy,” he said.
According to the experts Obama’s claims that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol is unfounded. There simply isn’t any evidence to support the claim.
The article on Abc.net.au looked into and examined these claims and whether there was any fact behind them. They found that these claims were unsubstantiated.
The article’s writers recognised that health risks were associated with both substances increase with quantity and frequency of use and in the case of marijuana use, the age of first use also affects people’s health.
The short term health effects of too much alcohol include headaches, lack of coordination, shakiness, nausea, vomiting and passing out. In the long term alcohol abuse can lead to brain damage, heart and liver disease, pancreatitis, mouth, neck and throat cancers and a compromised immune system. Long term alcohol use can lead to dependence, with severe withdrawal symptoms.
Whereas with alcohol one can control the amount they consume and therefore the severity of its effect on their health, marijuana use, even mild use has been linked to an increased heart rate, low blood pressure and anxiety. Like alcohol, marijuana is not a harmless drug as people mistakenly think.
In the long run the use of marijuana can affect the user’s brain and lung function, hormone levels, immune system and mental health. The article on Abc.net.au explains:
“Cannabis use is associated with psychotic symptoms, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression,” according to a discussion paper released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The paper also notes that “long-term heavy cannabis users… show impairments in memory and attention that endure beyond the period of intoxication and worsen with increasing years of regular cannabis use.”
Doctors say that in people who are predisposed to certain types of mental illness, marijuana use may actually worsen the conditions, especially conditions like schizophrenia.So contrary to the claims made by the US president, marijuana is not less harmful than alcohol.