There probably isn’t a perfect way to evaluate and present all drug harms. Researchers will always need to balance making information simple and accessible for policymakers and the public with the inherent complexity of drugs and their effects. This makes the task of building scientific drug policies very challenging. A lot of research has also linked adolescent marijuana use with a range of negative consequences, including cognitive deficiencies and worse educational outcomes. While it’s not clear whether marijuana’s role with these outcomes is cause-and-effect, experts generally agree that people younger than their mid-20s should avoid pot.

  1. These positive effects, however, aren’t necessarily generalizable to everyone who use either substance, nor is it recommended to start using either to reap potential benefits without medical guidance or advice.
  2. This post will elaborate on the impacts of alcohol vs. weed on your health, body, driving skills, fatality numbers, and the toll they can take on your life.
  3. Health risks are just one way to measure whether marijuana is safer than alcohol.
  4. Should you decide that edibles are your choice, you may want to do some research on recommended dosages for whichever edible you choose.

THC also increases the release of dopamine (which makes eating more enjoyable) and the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. During the early stages of drinking, the brain releases more of the “feel good” chemical dopamine. This chemical surge provides temporary relief from negative emotions and can produce increased confidence, sociableness, relaxation or elation. Seventy-five percent of Americans believe alcohol consumption negatively affects society. But on the flip side, 49 percent of Americans believe that cannabis use affects society positively, per a recent Gallup poll. Additionally, researchers looking to study long-term marijuana use have had difficulty in finding people who regularly smoke marijuana but don’t also smoke tobacco cigarettes.

Both alcohol and marijuana can be dangerous substances, and addiction is a potential risk regardless of perceived safety. It’s important to exercise caution and make informed decisions about substance use to minimize potential risks and harms. When it comes to drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis, the road to health is complex and individual experiences may vary.

Marijuana appears to be significantly less addictive than alcohol.

After being absorbed through the lining of the stomach into the bloodstream, it spreads into tissues throughout the body and reaches the brain in about five minutes, according to Northwestern Medicine. Although for palliative care, he said, “that would be a different realm of medicine,” in which the goal is to drug a person so they do not feel pain. “There are segments of the population that want to bypass the entire process, grabbing this nugget of truth … and claiming smoking marijuana can be good for your health and have medical uses,” Baler said. Because marijuana can impair coordination and balance, there is the risk of hurting oneself, particularly if someone drives or chooses to have unprotected sex while their inhibitions are lowered, Baler said. These are two areas where people using marijuana could hurt themselves for the short and long term. On the surface, weed appears to be safer, but there’s simply not enough evidence to declare a winner.

The idea is lawmakers could look at this model to help decide on an individual basis which policies are better for each drug. The truth is, both alcohol and weed may cause negative health effects, including addiction. If you find that smoking weed starts to affect your life in unhealthy ways and leads to unwanted consequences, those are signs you might be developing an addiction and should seek medical care. The research on other health effects of marijuana is inconclusive but should warrant some caution. One study linked the use of potent marijuana to psychotic disorders, but other studies suggest people with psychotic disorders may be predisposed to pot use.

All things considered, alcohol’s effects seem markedly more extreme — and riskier — than marijuana’s.

Jon Caulkins, a drug policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University, gave the example of an alien race visiting Earth and asking which land animal is the biggest. If the question is about weight, the African elephant is the biggest land animal. And if the question is about length, the reticulated python is the biggest.

However, despite one drug being more socially stigmatized than the other, both substances have their benefits and pitfalls when it comes to consumption. But how much does all of this information really tell policymakers or the public? It would matter if marijuana ends up substituting alcohol once pot is legalized (since a safer substance would be replacing a more dangerous one), but the research on that is still early. Health risks are just one way to measure whether marijuana is safer than alcohol.

Both weed and alcohol can carry a potential for misuse and addiction, but this appears to be more common with alcohol. Generally speaking, weed tends to come with fewer risks online sobriety support than alcohol, but there are a lot of factors to consider. Plus, they’re unique substances that produce different effects, which makes side-by-side comparisons difficult.

In an email survey, college students reported that after a blackout they did things that they could not remember, like driving drunk, having unprotected sex, or engaging in risky behavior. When you drink heavily, it can impair your ability to create new memories. Over 50% of frequent binge drinkers reported at least one time in the past year when they blacked out and forgot where they were or what they did when they were drinking.

Marijuana Use

The way you consume weed can have a big impact on its short- and long-term effects. For example, smoking is rough on your lungs, but this risk doesn’t apply to edibles. “The main risk of cannabis is losing control of your cannabis intake,” Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at UCLA, said. “That’s going to have consequences in terms of the amount of time you spend not fully functional. When that’s hours per day times years, that’s bad.” “There’s always choices,” Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, explained.

Long-term health risks

And the illegality of marijuana has also limited research in this field. Alcohol’s effects on behavior can also lead to more crime, while marijuana use appears to have little-to-no effect. Alcohol is a factor in 40 percent of violent crimes, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

It affects gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which can cause relaxation but long term use of alcohol can affect your levels of GABA or glutamate in the nervous system. Alcohol can lower inhibitions but it can also impair judgment, coordination, and memory. Cannabis can affect your ability to pay attention, memory, and decision-making. It can overall slow your reaction time and your general perception of time and distance which can increase your likelihood of getting into an accident. Thankfully, as more states legalize cannabis and recreational sales we can observe more data about the effect on death and accident rates. One study examined these data points exploring when cannabis was legalized vs. when retail sales began.

In 2014, 30,722 people died from alcohol-induced causes in the US — and that does not count drinking-related accidents or homicides. If those deaths were included, the number would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That being said, alcohol still faces all of the same aforementioned tolls on your health and risks of addiction. Additionally, compounds in cannabis can help prevent some diseases, stunt oxidative damage, and can also help prevent major conditions. Some compounds in cannabis have been found to be anticancer, antibiotic, and antifungal.

They both have a history of impairing judgment and can directly increase your chances of having an accident. There currently isn’t a Blood Marijuana Level federally recognized but as more states adjust to legal cannabis use we can have clearer and more stringent measures to monitor driving while intoxicated on cannabis. While the growing increase in medical and recreational cannabis legalization is providing a larger data set there isn’t enough tracking to link specific medical deaths to cannabis. This post will elaborate on the impacts of alcohol vs. weed on your health, body, driving skills, fatality numbers, and the toll they can take on your life.