With marijuana legalisation across the globe on the rise, an increasing number of studies are now being conducted where researchers are exploring the drug’s potential harms and benefits, both short and long-term. However, a new study has recently suggested that when it comes to brain health, alcohol is more damaging than Marijuana.
As it turns out, marijuana is approximately 114 times less deadly than alcohol, according to the recent findings published in the journal Scientific Reports. Of the seven drugs listed in the criteria of the study, alcohol was the deadliest at an individual level, followed closely by drugs like heroin, cocaine, tobacco, ecstasy, methamphetamines, and marijuana. Previous studies consistently ranked marijuana as the safest recreational drug, but just how large exactly the discrepancy was, was unknown at the time.
During the study, the researchers involved determined the mortality risk of various drugs, alcohol and cigarettes by comparing a lethal dose of each substance with the amount typically used by a consumer. Researchers discovered that not only was marijuana the lowest recorded out of the drugs tested, but there was such a significant gap between marijuana and the other drugs, along with its lethal and typical doses that they previously classified as the only “low mortality risk” drug tested, while all of the other types of drugs were classified as “medium” or “high.”
The findings recorded from the study results appeared to have contradicted many of the efforts placed by law enforcement agencies around the country on the controversial topic which ultimately, despite pockets of decriminalisation and legalisation, typically focus heavily on marijuana-related arrests and charges. The studies researchers suggest that based on the results found, these particular agencies would benefit greatly from shifting their opinions on marijuana-based priorities away from illicit drugs and placing them instead of keeping things like only alcohol and tobacco restricted and openly accepted. Following the study, the researchers involved stated that believe marijuana to be so low-risk drug that they suggest should have a broad, regulated legalisation of it.
According to the researchers involved in the study, many attempts to compare the danger of particular drugs have unfortunately been few and far between. Unfortunately, it seemingly wasn’t until the last ten years that studies were properly conducted to classify the real risk of drug abuse in a large and quantitative manner. Prior to this, the researchers claim that the risk assessment of drug abuse was usually based largely on anecdotal evidence, which would often mean that policy decisions were largely based on educated (and sometimes non-educated) guesses.
In 2014, 30,722 people died from alcohol-induced causes in the US — and that does not count drinking-related accidents or homicides. If those deaths were included, the number would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, no deaths from marijuana overdoses have been reported, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. A 16-year study of more than 65,000 Americans, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that healthy marijuana users were not more likely to die earlier than healthy people who did not use cannabis.
Additionally, close to half of all adults have tried marijuana at least once, making it one of the most widely used illegal drugs — yet research suggests that a relatively small percentage of people become addicted.
For a 1994 survey, epidemiologists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse asked more than 8,000 people from ages 15 to 64 about their drug use. Of those who had tried marijuana at least once, roughly 9% eventually fit a diagnosis of addiction. For alcohol, the figure was about 15%. To put that in perspective, the addiction rate for cocaine was 17%, while heroin was 23% and nicotine was 32%.
The researchers clarified that the study does not suggest that moderate alcohol consumption poses a higher risk than regular heroin use. Environmental conditions, like dirty needles or unregulated supplies, contribute to the overall harm caused by using a drug like heroin. Instead, this study was specifically done to measure the deadliness of the substances themselves. However, many previously conducted studies published throughout the last decade suggest one is definitely more dangerous than the other.