Alcohol causes far more damage to its consumers and to society than does the use of marijuana, says a new study published online in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Researchers at the Imperial College of London looked at “the relative physical, psychological, and social harms of cannabis and alcohol”. They determined that marijuana smoking, particularly longterm, does some harm to the lungs and circulatory system, and might increase certain mental-health risks.
In contrast, the authors described alcohol as “a toxic substance” responsible for almost five percent of the total global disease burden.
“A direct comparison of alcohol and cannabis showed that alcohol was considered to be more than twice as harmful as cannabis to its users, and five times more harmful than cannabis to others (society),” the researchers stated. “As there are few areas of harm that each drug can produce where cannabis scores more [dangerous to health] than alcohol, we suggest that even if there were no legal impediment on cannabis use, it would be unlikely to be more harmful than alcohol.”
“The findings underline the need for a coherent, evidence-based drugs policy that enables individuals to make informed decisions about the consequences of their drug use,” the researchers concluded.
Weissenborn R, & Nutt DJ (2011). Popular intoxicants: what lessons can be learned from the last 40 years of alcohol and cannabis regulation? Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) PMID: 21926420