Due to the lack of realistic research on the longer-term effects of cannabis it is sometimes rather difficult to make a realistic comparison between the lasting effects of one and the other.
Here’s what we do know: According to many studies, the lifetime risk of dependence defined as a desire to use increasing amounts of a substance and suffering withdrawal symptoms if you don’t—is lower for marijuana than it is for most other drugs, including alcohol. Here’s one data series that several prominent researchers point to:
Risk of becoming dependent on cannabis is about 9%, whereas with alcohol its about 16%.
Deaths from cannabis are still unrecorded as it is very difficult to overdose on cannabis. Drinking too much alcohol can quickly kill a person. The inability to metabolize alcohol as quickly as it is consumed can lead to a build-up of alcohol in the brain that shuts down areas necessary for survival, such as those involved with heartbeat and respiration.
“You can die binge-drinking five minutes after you’ve been exposed to alcohol. That isn’t going to happen with marijuana,” said Ruben Baler, a health scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The impact of marijuana use is much subtler.” But subtle effects don’t equate to less fatalities, as around 440000 people die from tobacco related conditions in the USA every year alone, compared to 88000 from alcohol related conditions.
Marijuana affects the cardiovascular system increasing heart rate and blood pressure, but you can’t overdose on marijuana like you can with alcohol.
However, the main point as far as I can see is the behaviour of people who are drunk compared to those who are stoned. Think of the scenes we can see when you have a group of drunk football supporters: fights, vomit, general unacceptable behaviour for an advanced 21st century society, compare this to the average stoned person who exhibits a more gentle, considerate and peaceful behaviour. I admit this is a generalisation, but I haven’t seen a real argument in any of the situations I’ve been in with people who are stoned. Whereas, every time I go to a pub there is always some kind of trouble if not a fight. Families are being ruined by alcohol. A lot of alcoholics find it very hard to keep down a job.
Whereas marijuana use can be attributed to some of the great works of art, a prime example of this was the boom in music ion the 60s and 70s a whole genre of music linked to marijuana use. In art we’ve got Van Gogh who was beyond any doubt an amazing artist whose favourite drink was absinthe (a pretty lethal alcoholic drink, with psychoactive effects), but he cut his ear off! I feel that one of the biggest differences between alcohol and marijuana is awareness, its true that when you’re stoned you can forget what you’re talking about or doing. But unless you’ve fallen asleep you are aware of what is going on and what you are doing. Think about being drunk, no idea what you’re doing or even thinking.
I am referring here to extremities, many people use alcohol as a relaxant or as a pleasure, as they do with marijuana. But it is difficult to get into a ‘state’ with marijuana as you do with alcohol. That is one point which I find very important. HANGOVERS, I can truly say that marijuana has never given me a ‘day after feeling’, on occasions it has made me feel even better the day after.
To recap, alcohol causes 88000 deaths per year in the USA, research suggest that it is nearly twice as addictive as marijuana, it causes the most horrendous hangovers and leaves you unaware of what you are doing, it can lead to violence, and ruins lives and families.
The question you have to ask yourself is why is it illegal.