How would society be influenced if cannabis was the main legal recreational drug? A recent YouGov Poll revealed that roughly 1 in 4 people in America believes that if people smoked more marijuana than they drank alcohol, it would be generally “better”.
When presented with the question “Would it be good or bad if the average American drank less alcohol and used more marijuana?,” 27% of respondents replied “good” and 20% replied “bad.” Roughly 38% of the public, however, believed that it would be neither.
Obviously, the younger the demographic of voters, the more in favor they were of the idea that “more cannabis consumption over alcohol consumption” would be good. But this question brings us to today’s Ganja Theory: Would cannabis have a net benefit if it was the main legal drug of consumption for recreational purposes? In other words, if cannabis was as commonly consumed as alcohol, would society receive a net benefit?
When comparing alcohol and cannabis it is obvious that cannabis is the “less harmful” of the two substances. First, unlike alcohol, you cannot induce a lethal overdose with cannabis. The LD-50 of cannabis, when it was tested, is said to be anywhere between 1:20,000 and 1:50,000 which means that you’d have to consume an inhumane amount of cannabis to induce a lethal dose.
The LD-50 rating is a system used to indicate toxicity of a drug in where when administered a dose 50% of the test animals die. When this happens, the LD-50 of a particular drug is established. According to Drug Policy Facts, when it comes to weed:
At present, it is estimated that marijuana’s LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.
Compared to alcohol which places an LD-50 at about 13 shots where 1 shot = 45ml (40% AVB). In other words, a little over a half a liter of spirits could kill you, or at least theoretically this is where 50% of test subjects would have a lethal dose.
Not to mention, the general toll alcohol has on the body is quite extensive.
Here’s a short list of illnesses that could only come from excessive alcohol consumption:
And compare this to cannabis:
Sure, I could list some other potentials, but none of the other elements on the list of the CDC can be claimed to come from cannabis alone. However, when it comes to the alcohol related illnesses, there is extensive research on the matter. Perhaps, more conditions might arise over time, but for now the list is quite short of verifiable side effects.
Simply put, when comparing the health impact of consuming alcohol versus the health impact of consuming cannabis, there will be a net benefit to society because cannabis is not only less dangerous as a substance, it also has a lower chance of forming addictive behavior.
While no one is arguing that cannabis and driving don’t mix, the two are different. Those driving stoned out of their mind tend to (on average) drive slower, while drunk drivers tend to speed and drive more recklessly.
Recent studies also showed that while crash rates spiked in some states that legalized cannabis, that only those who combined alcohol and cannabis posed a statistical threat.
Crash rates spiked with the legalization of recreational marijuana use and retail sales in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and another by the affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) show.
However, the preliminary results of a separate IIHS study of injured drivers who visited emergency rooms in California, Colorado and Oregon showed that drivers who used marijuana alone were no more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers who hadn’t used the drug.
In other words, alcohol is the main driver in traffic fatalities claiming more than 10,000 people each year to alcohol-induced driving.
If cannabis was the predominant drug of choice, this could reduce the yearly traffic fatalities seeing that, “drivers who used marijuana alone were no more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers who hadn’t used the drug.”
We’ve been told that stoners are lazy, but recent research tells us a different story. For starters, states that have legalized cannabis see employees take fewer sick days and a recent study saw that students who smoke marijuana were more interested in taking up more challenging tasks than their non-smoking counter parts.
This isn’t to say that cannabis will keep you motivated, but it does show you that the old “lazy stoner trope” is outdated. However, being drunk significantly impacts your ability to produce.
A LinkedIn post by Dr. Daniel Amen explains:
In fact, the evidence from our brain imaging studies demonstrates that alcohol is the exact opposite. Even ONE glass of beer or wine per day can be directly toxic to brain function. The SPECT scans of people who drink too much alcohol – more than three drinks a week – look toxic.
It is associated with fatty liver disease, peripheral neuropathies (pain and tingling in hands, legs, and feet), damage to neurons, especially those in the cerebellum, which is involved in physical and thought coordination, and mood. It interferes with the absorption of vitamin B1, which predisposes people to serious cognitive problems.
While most Americans believe that consuming less of both drugs is probably best, the fact of the matter is that when you switch from alcohol to cannabis you would begin to see significant improvement in your life in general. If this was adapted by the masses, fact checkers (me) believe that there would indeed be a net benefit to society.