A lot of people see the steps towards the legalization of cannabis much like that of ending the prohibition of alcohol. Many people argue that cannabis is a much safer choice in comparison to cannabis and we will look at the consequences of both below. Responsible use of any substance greatly reduces the risks associated with it.
Short Term Consequences
Both cannabis and alcohol share some short term consequences. For example, both substances can impair balance and coordination in a user. It is important to note that this is dependent on how much someone uses and how quickly it is used. When under the influence of either cannabis or alcohol, it is illegal to operate a vehicle. Both can be psychologically habit forming.
It is possible to die from binge drinking because the alcohol shuts down key area of functioning the in brain when there is a buildup. This includes the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, slowing down the heart rate and breathing. Alcohol interferes with many prescription medications, either increasing or decreasing the activity of the drug in the body. You can also become addicted to alcohol which can have short term consequences and long term
With cannabis, a person can’t overdose and die. Some people have experienced an increased heart rate and higher than normal blood pressure. User have noted that adverse reactions like paranoia and anxiety do occur.
Long Term Consequences
Chronic alcohol use can lead to a host of diseases that are very serious. The liver, pancreas, stomach, intestines, brain and heart can all be effected. Accidents and injuries are more frequently reported with alcohol users. Osteoporosis, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, weakened immune system and even cancer are all being linked to long term drinking. There is a significantly higher rate of violence associated with alcohol.
Long term effects of cannabis have been a bit more difficult to study, as it’s Schedule 1 status limits a lot of research. Being illegal in many states can bring both short and long term consequences to those found in possession. Due to cannabis being smoked, long term users may have more bronchial issues, like coughing and inflammation of the lungs. Some studies stated that cannabis smoking has been linked to lung cancer, whereas others say this theory has been disproved. The other side states that protective compounds in cannabis protect the lungs and that compared to a cigarette smoker’s lung, the difference is clear. It is also noted that most cannabis smokers smoke less than cigarette smokers do comparatively.
The National Alcohol Survey showed there was an increased amount of users that smoke marijuana and drank at the same time. These simultaneous users often increased how much and how often they drank. Risk factors nearly doubled with things like drunk driving, negative social consequences and causing harm to themselves.
Researchers also have problems finding cannabis smokers who do not smoke cigarettes. To effectively study the effect on the body and lungs, a control group with significant numbers is needed. It is believed that with the social shift in the legalization of cannabis, the government will be soon to follow. This will give researchers more access and information to reach concrete findings.