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Drugs vs. Alcohol

  1. Jun 19, 2009 #1
    Right, I'm putting this here first to get some general opinions and if it eventually gets moved to a biology/medical section, that would be good.

    Basically there has been a lot of debate between my housemates about whether or not cannabis and marijuana are better for you to consume than alcohol. Now I know nothing about these drugs so my questions are:
    1. Is there evidence showing they are no worse than alcohol or even less damaging than alcohol? As many claims by my housemates are that cannabis and marijuana are less damaging to the body and less adictive than alcohol.
    2. Do you think they should be classified as illegal? What are your views on the drugs (perhaps even a few more than just those three)?

    As I say initially, although I would like claims to have evidence behind them I will accept general opinions to get things going and get an overall view of the situation.
     
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  3. Jun 19, 2009 #2

    cristo

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    What are these claims based on? Surely, if they are the ones making the claims, they must have some evidence to back the claims up.
     
  4. Jun 19, 2009 #3
    Thats the thing they have no evidence, I don't believe what they say. Their claims are purely based on things they hear from other people (about as reliable as a plumbers estimate if you ask me) but they take them as fact. And will swear blind they are right. There must be a reason Cannabis and Marijuana are classified as illegal and alcohol not. I was just hoping people here would have an idea and be able to give me some points on the effects of both the drugs and how they compare to alcohol in long and short term use/effects.
     
  5. Jun 19, 2009 #4
    Yes, of course there must.
     
  6. Jun 19, 2009 #5
    The problem is they claim cannabis and marijuana aren't as addictive as alcohol and cause less deaths per year from internal body damage. And despite all my searching I have found nothing substantial either way on this argument.
     
  7. Jun 19, 2009 #6

    cristo

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    Well, clearly, cannabis will cause less deaths per year. That's like saying more people die each year from car accidents than they do from unicycling accidents, thus a car is safer.

    However, I don't know, off the top of my head, any tests done on this, so can't really help.
     
  8. Jun 19, 2009 #7
    Obviously, it's a scaling issue. But they are very much in the beliefs that it should be legal to have these drugs and that if alcohol had been created now it would be classified as an illegal drug.
     
  9. Jun 19, 2009 #8
    Cannabis & Marijuana is dangerous to health as Alcohol. Much of Alcohol causes Liver problems while Cannabis and Marijuana causes cardiovascular cancer. So, don't take Alcohol or Cannabis and Marijuana regularly, because on d long run you'll get ADDICTED to it and these health problems will happen to you.
     
  10. Jun 19, 2009 #9

    russ_watters

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    You're still at the age where all drinking leads to getting drunk. The equation changes when you stop abusing alcohol...
     
  11. Jun 19, 2009 #10

    Moonbear

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    The question is sort of like asking which is worse, dropping a load of bricks on your foot, or running your foot over with a car.

    People trying to argue that marijuana and alcohol are equally bad are the ones who consume both to intoxication and are trying to rationalize their drug habit. Though, somehow as they tick off things that both can affect, they conveniently leave out inhalation of smoke from marijuana, since that's the method it's most frequently abused.

    Keep in mind that there are always ways to enjoy alcoholic beverages without consuming the alcohol. For example, cooking with wine is very popular. You cook off all the alcohol and just leave behind the flavors.
     
  12. Jun 19, 2009 #11

    Gokul43201

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    Is there not a parallel statement that can be made about cannabis?
     
  13. Jun 19, 2009 #12

    Gokul43201

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    Not sure I follow, but you seem to be saying that the two (cannabis and alcohol) are similar in the damage they do to your body. Or did I misunderstand (does the load of bricks do a lot more damage than the car)?

    I could see myself making this argument, but I don't smoke pot, and drink less than a liter of beer/wine a month. And if you hadn't written this sentence, I would have interpreted your previous sentence as making this same argument (about both being "equally bad").

    But smoking is perfectly legal as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2009
  14. Jun 19, 2009 #13

    Moonbear

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    I'm not making an argument on legality. My argument is based on the assumption (it may be incorrect) that the people asking the question are thinking about alcohol intoxication, not just marinating their steak in some wine. So, if you're drinking alcohol to excess (intoxication), then yes, it's going to be harmful. One brick falling on your foot may not do a lot of damage, but dropping the whole load of them on will.

    If the discussion was about marijuana vs cigarettes, my conclusion would be that indeed, cigarettes should be made illegal. Since it was about marijuana vs alcohol, I was pointing out that one can consume or use alcoholic beverages in ways that do not lead to intoxication, and indeed, do not even involve ingestion of the alcohol itself. If you're abusing alcohol, though, then yeah, it probably is as bad as marijuana. The issue I have is that people trying to claim they are equally bad are too often trying to use that argument to justify using marijuana or legalizing it, rather than making the converse argument that drinking until you're drunk is something to avoid.
     
  15. Jun 19, 2009 #14
    Just in a quick response to an above post, I have never done (or even held for that matter) any illegal drug. And I only go out drinking once every 4-6 weeks and then it is generally me and a few friends sitting in a pub chatting for a few hours, socially drinking. It is very rare I get 'plastered'. (Infact last time was about 4 months ago.) Please don't just generalise, it isn't fair.

    Other than that good stuff. Moonbear, bringing cigarettes in, good idea. Why not, they are running on the same argument.
     
  16. Jun 19, 2009 #15

    mgb_phys

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    Another factor of course is that using marijuana to excess generally doesn't harm others.

    A famous career limiting statement by a chief police office following the government's reclassifying marijuana as a serious class B drug - that he hasn't heard of anybody being beaten up by a gang of stoners on a saturday night.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2009
  17. Jun 19, 2009 #16

    turbo

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    My cousin's husband is the retired chief of police of the county seat, and he worked his way up the force from a rookie. He has told me many times that the most dangerous part of his job was answering domestic violence calls and that they were overwhelmingly fueled by alcohol. Excess alcohol consumption can have very bad effects on the health (and life expectancy) of others, not just oneself.
     
  18. Jun 19, 2009 #17
    A significant percentage of DUIs involve marijuana.
     
  19. Jun 19, 2009 #18
    This isn't the reason, but it is certainly a major one - when marijuana was first introduced, it was a huge threat to both the tobacco and paper industry (hemp paper is superior to tree paper). So, they lobbied to have marijuana made illegal.
     
  20. Jun 19, 2009 #19
    Toxicity alone:

    Alcohol- LD50 value of 10.3 g/kg in rats

    Marijuana- LD50 value???? Nobody really knows cause no one has ever died smoking marijuana. Pure THC has an LD50 of over 12 g/kg when given orally to rats.


    Long term use of alcohol- cancer, cirrhosis, impaired immune system, heart disease, irreversible brain damage, and dimentia/anxiety.

    Long term use of marijuana- lung cancer? (jury still out on that one, no solid study linking the two), cognition deficits (which may or may not be fully reversible with abstained use. Jury still out on that one.), anxiety, cardiovascular stress.







    Tox wise, marijuana is definitely safer than alcohol in many aspects.
     
  21. Jun 19, 2009 #20

    turbo

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    Not quite. The largest comprehensive study done on pot-smokers was funded by the NIH and reported on 3 years ago in the Washington Post. It was widely expected that heavy marijuana use would correlate with increased incidence of cancers of the respiratory system, but:

    The article in here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html
     
  22. Jun 19, 2009 #21

    chroot

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    Based on everything I've ever read (and yes, experienced), I can say pretty confidently that alcohol is physiologically much more damaging than is marijuana. This is actually the general consensus among health professionals, too.

    This article in The Lancet is particularly illuminating. Note that both ecstasy and marijuana are shown to cause less physical harm than both alcohol and tobacco.

    The many scientists consulted by the BBC for this BBC Horizons documentary agree that both marijuana and ecstasy are less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco.

    The bottom line is that most governments worldwide have classified many recreational drugs inappropriately, mostly because of propaganda, misinformation, and the interests of big businesses.

    This is not to say that marijuana or other "soft" drugs are without danger; it can definitely send your life off the rails, screw up your work and study habits, and change the way you interact with loved ones. The same could be said of virtually anything, though.

    - Warren
     
  23. Jun 19, 2009 #22

    russ_watters

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    No - at least I've never heard of anyone ever smoking pot without the intention of getting high. AFAIK, there is no other reason to do it.
     
  24. Jun 19, 2009 #23

    russ_watters

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    From the article:
    That averages out to about 1 joint a day over a 50 year period. I wonder what the dose rate of the nasty stuff is compared to a cigarette smoker who smokes 10 to 20 times as many. Does smoking 1 cigarette a day show a notable cancer risk? That alone could explain why pot smoking doesn't cause cancer.

    Basically, due to the effects of the drug, it may be inherrently impossible to OD on it or get cancer from it.
     
  25. Jun 19, 2009 #24

    russ_watters

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    One thing that never gets discussed because people never get past the should-we-or-shouldn't-we debate is what the landscape would actually look like if pot were legal. I'm not sure people realize just how restrictive the climate would likely still be against it. I can envision:

    -You wouldn't be allowed to do it when/right before driving. This would be more restrictive than cigarettes or alcohol in practice.
    -You wouldn't be allowed to do it in most public places or at work (take the most restrictive of smoking and drinking laws and combine them).
    -It would likely still be acceptable to discriminate against it in hiring - and drug testing could even expand.
    -Product safety regulation would be problematic. With smoking, one cigarette won't give you cancer, with drinking, one drink won't get you drunk. With pot, one joint, smoked by yourself, would get you utterly wasted. Ie, there is no "normal" dose that can be reliably expected to not cause major impairment. It is quite possible that as a result, purity would have to be diluted.
     
  26. Jun 19, 2009 #25

    turbo

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    That may be a large factor - the drug dose is self-limiting in that regard. If you will google on the doctor's name to get further research, you will see that the people in the study who smoked BOTH tobacco and pot showed a slightly lower incidence of cancers of the respiratory system than those who smoked tobacco only. The doctor surmises that THC could have a protective effect by preventing the regeneration of damaged cells that might be a precursor to cancer. He did a follow-up study on COPD and found that lung capacity in teetotalers and those who smoked only marijuana declined with age at approximately the same rate, while lung capacity in cigarette smokers dropped much more rapidly than in the previous two groups. Tashkin's work has been funded for decades by public money, including the NIH. Needless to say, government officials have not been too eager to reverse wrong-headed prohibitions on marijuana dating back to the 1930's based on new science from a large controlled study. Instead, public policy will continue to be made based on preconception and propaganda. Tashkin was a darling of the NIH for as long as he held the opinion that marijuana caused cancers and COPD. When his studies proved otherwise, he did an about-face (as any good scientist should when confronted by solid evidence) and stated that he would support the legalization of marijuana as a less-harmful recreational drug.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2009
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