The controversy around legalizing marijuana is not a new debate, and it’s not one that will be solved soon. Many people wonder if marijuana is really dangerous enough for it to be illegal in most parts of the world. Surprisingly, scientists now believe that marijuana may actually be safer to consume than alcohol! Yes, you read that right.


In 2015, scientists compared the risk of mortality for 10 common drugs using a new technique known as the margin of exposure. The results of this study were published in a report that makes for a very interesting read. If that piqued your interest, you can find even more interesting information on the cannabis industry here.

The scientists found that people who used marijuana had the lowest risk of mortality compared to those other recreational drugs in the study, including alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, Valium, amphetamine and methadone. Perhaps what’s even more surprising is that alcohol was found to be far riskier than even heroin! In fact, alcohol was found to be up to 114 times more dangerous than marijuana.

Did you know that alcohol ranks third in terms of deaths caused in the US? That’s how seriously alcohol should be taken, but instead, it seems as though most governments around the world have chosen to turn a blind eye to the dangers of alcohol and tobacco, and have instead focused on criminalizing the use of weed. Perhaps it is time we tweaked our drug laws.

Is it Time To Legalize Weed?

Most scientists tend to agree that the laws around weed are over exaggerated, while the laws regulating alcohol and tobacco are way too lenient. In other words, there seems to be little scientific evidence to support the strict regulation of weed. For instance, weed is classified under Schedule I in the US, meaning that it is considered a drug with high potential for abuse when there is no real evidence that that is the case.

Mark Kleiman, a professor of drug policy and criminal justice at New York University is one of those who believes that the whole drug classification system should be scrapped and restructured with alcohol and tobacco being placed higher up on the scale. As more and more people start to think as he does, maybe the tide will finally turn.

The Real Effects of Using Marijuana

Of course, scientists also agree that weed may be harmful to your health. Marijuana may be safer than alcohol but there is a list of well documented adverse effects that come with the excessive use of weed. Respiratory effects, increased risk of stroke and heart attack, pregnancy-related problems, psychosis and other side effects are known to result from cannabis. Then there is also the social effects that have been associated with prolonged use of weed, like difficulty forging relationships, financial difficulties, and lower overall life satisfaction. So, while marijuana may not be the as dangerous as other drugs, it is certainly not without risk.

The Health Benefits of Using Marijuana

Still, there hasn’t been any documented case of death caused by weed overdose in the thousands of years it has been in use.  Though there haven’t been many concrete scientific studies that point to the health benefits of using pot, there has been some conclusive evidence indicating that pot may be good for treating pain, muscle stiffness, and other symptoms.

A recent review published in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found some evidence that weed is good for treating pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms. The study also found some evidence, though limited, pointing to marijuana boosting short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with sleep disturbance. There was, however, no evidence found on the benefits of marijuana in the treatment of dementia, glaucoma, cancers, cancer-associated anorexia, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy, spasticity in patients with paralysis due to spinal cord injury, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, drug addiction, or schizophrenia.

Having seen the scientific evidence, we have a decision to make- is it time to legalize weed?

The answer is a simple one. The laws should certainly be relaxed to allow patients to access the proven healing powers or the drug. We have seen the negative social repercussions that marijuana criminalization has had on society. Enforcing the laws is also proving too expensive. So, why not start by reducing the legal penalties attached to marijuana en route to legalizing it altogether?


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