Cannabis legalization is growing throughout America after decades of demonization. Alcohol doesn’t have the same stigma, at least not after Prohibition, and that era is barely in living memory. New users of cannabis have to overcome all of the negative press that the drug has gotten from the authorities.
One way to start doing that is to compare the effects of cannabis and alcohol and see which might be better. Both have been used as a recreational drug for centuries and we’re comfortable with the use of alcohol as long as people don’t overimbibe and do stupid things under its influence. There are many advantages to cannabis consumption that alcohol consumption doesn’t share. Naturally, we’re a little biased, but we’d like to explain our reasons why cannabis is a better and safer drug than alcohol.
Anyone who drinks alcohol to excess quickly learns the feeling of a hangover (unless they’re genetically lucky!) For those fortunate enough to have not had it, symptoms include dry mouth, dehydration, achiness, sensitivity to noise and light, and poor motor function. The usual cure is time, a big glass of water, and B-vitamins, things the body needs after processing alcohol out of your system.
Cannabis doesn’t deplete the body of nutrients while processing THC. However, very large doses can result in the high continuing at a low-grade level the next day. This is sometimes referred to as a weed hangover.
No liver damage
Alcohol drinking over long periods of time will ruin your liver. The liver can only handle so much alcohol at once. During the process of eliminating alcohol, a hazardous compound called acetaldehyde is created that damages liver cells. Over time, this leads to fatty liver disease and eventually cirrhosis. Anything more than two drinks in a day risks enough liver damage over time to pose a health threat.
Can’t fatally overdose
Alcohol is fatal in large doses, though it is possible to build up an incredible tolerance. The usual blood alcohol concentration level to risk death is 0.40. Half of adults who reach that level die, known in toxicology as the LD50 level. The actual amount that will kill you will vary from person to person and on what you’re drinking.
In contrast, the theoretical LD50 for THC is around 15-70 grams (research is spotty). Consider that most doses of cannabis only contain around 2-3 milligrams of THC, you’d have to smoke around 5000 doses at a sitting to even reach the lower end of that estimated LD50. You might get absurdly stoned, but you’re not going to die from smoking cannabis alone.
Anyone can take it
Alcohol may be drunk worldwide, but there are races that have a harder time processing alcohol than others. About a third of people in Asia have genetics that let them process alcohol into acetaldehyde quite fast, meaning they don’t get drunk easily. However, the same genetics prevent the breakdown of acetaldehyde as fast as other humans.
This leads to a form of alcohol flushing sometimes called “Asian flushing”. Symptoms include flushing of the face, fast heart rate, nausea, and headaches. Presumably, it also means faster liver damage over time. If it is hard for you to get drunk or you feel these effects when you drink, cannabis could be a much safer way to get intoxicated.
Ask any police officer and they’ll tell you they’d much rather deal with someone stoned than someone who is drunk. Cannabis users are famously relaxed and non-violent. Even if they have a paranoid reaction, they’re not likely to want to fight. Alcohol, on the other hand, is quite closely linked to violent behavior. People often lose control of their emotions when they are drunk. Also, they can swing from happy to angry really fast. This leads to much danger.
The way that cannabis got its foot in the door for legalization is through recognition of its medical properties. It is useful in treating a wide range of medical conditions from glaucoma to the wasting associated with cancer. A simple google search will bring up hundreds of studies and case anecdotes from people who have ingested cannabis via vaporizers to deal with medical issues.
Alcohol is primarily used as a disinfectant and in certain rare situations as a medicine (methanol poisoning, certain mold infections). While disinfection is certainly important in medicine, it doesn’t treat nearly as many conditions as cannabis. Also, many old-time remedies that used alcohol are considered quite dangerous, such as using whiskey to help infants sleep or deal with the pain of teething.
Hemingway said, “write drunk, edit sober.” Anecdotes of famous authors aside, most people do not think well when they are drunk nor have the motor skills to capitalize on any bursts of creativity that might come when using alcohol. Once you start to get buzzed, mental faculties start to plummet. What might seem like a fascinating idea or a bestseller at the time might be garbage when you sober up.
However, with cannabis, some creatives use low doses of a sativa strain to boost their creativity and find that it helps them a lot. Creativity is subjective, but it’s worth a try. Use a small amount of a sativa strain to experiment with this effect. Heavy doses of cannabis will make you too drowsy and relaxed to work.
Better stress relief
This one is debatable since people have been using alcohol to relax for a long time, but no one can say that long-term use of alcohol ever had a net positive stress relief benefit. The symptoms from long-term alcohol use are certainly stressful on the body and tolerance builds quickly. Cannabis, however, is a potent stress reliever, especially for indica strains. These have higher concentrations of CBD, which is used for insomnia among other conditions. Tolerance also builds more slowly and long-term use of cannabis doesn’t have nearly as many negative side effects as alcohol. However, some people do experience higher anxiety with particular strains of cannabis, so be careful if you have an anxious personality.
Most cannabis smokers are only seeking a few things while high: a better high, enough food, and some sort of sensory experience done from home. But alcohol users? There’s a reason we have the expression “hold my beer, watch this.” Alcohol lowers a lot of our inhibitions, leading to problems from DUI to unintended pregnancy. Many a funny or painful YouTube video was powered by alcohol. Of course, this doesn’t mean that cannabis use might not make you do something stupid like turning your roomie’s aquarium into a bong.
Depending on how you measure it, there are a lot more cannabis varieties than alcohol varieties. Alcohol is pretty cut and dry. It’s the same chemical no matter what liquor wrapper you put it in. But cannabis isn’t just THC. There are many cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in cannabis in different combinations and strengths depending on the strain. Plus you can turn cannabis into a wide variety of other products like edibles, hashish, wax, shatter, and more. Thus, it may be possible to create very specific effects in the future as new strains and consumption methods are created.
Michael Jacobs is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking pointsr