By / June 11, 2024

Alcohol Causes More Social and Health Harm Than Cannabis, New Studies Confirm

In recent years, cannabis has gained ground on alcohol, not only gaining in popularity, but also in social acceptance in the United States. This has led to its legalization in many states.

Despite some ongoing resistance to the legalization of cannabis, however, new studies indicate that Americans report significantly more secondary harm caused by alcohol than by cannabis. Analysis conducted by the Alcohol Research Group and RTI International shows that the social and health impacts of alcohol are far more severe than those associated with cannabis use.

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Alcohol vs Cannabis: Study Results

Studies published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs provide important data on the secondary harms related to alcohol and cannabis use in the United States. Responses from 7,799 American adults were analyzed to assess how often they experience harm resulting from others’ substance use.

The studies reveal that as many as 34.2% of respondents reported experiencing secondary harm caused by alcohol, while only 5.5% reported such harm related to cannabis.

Types of Reported Alcohol Harm

The types of reported harm encompass a wide range of problems, including family and marital difficulties, traffic accidents, vandalism, physical injuries, and financial difficulties. These data clearly indicate that alcohol is significantly more problematic in terms of its impact on surroundings and society than cannabis.

Additionally, individuals reporting harm related to cannabis often mentioned that these problems stemmed from restrictive laws and legal sanctions, such as financial difficulties caused by failing a drug test, rather than direct use of cannabis by others.

Comparison of Alcohol and Cannabis Effects

The studies clearly indicate that alcohol causes more social and health harm than cannabis. Alcohol often leads to aggressive behavior, impulsiveness, and lack of control, increasing the risk of conflicts, violence, and traffic accidents. In contrast, cannabis typically produces milder effects, such as relaxation and greater control over one’s behavior, reducing the risk of aggression and impulsive actions.

Legal Status Impact

The impact of the legal status of cannabis on reported harm is also significant. Many people report financial difficulties resulting from failed drug tests required by employers rather than direct harm related to others’ cannabis use. This suggests that restrictive laws and legal sanctions may influence the perception of cannabis-related harm more than the actual effects of its use.

The study authors emphasize that alcohol-related harm is much more prevalent than harm related to cannabis. The study states: “Alcohol-related harm was significantly more common than harm caused by any other substance.”

Data from the YouGov study support these observations, showing that nearly two-thirds of American adults believe that regular use of alcohol and tobacco is more harmful to health than cannabis. This indicates growing social awareness of the relative safety of cannabis use compared to other legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

The study results could significantly impact policies regarding alcohol and cannabis. Data showing that alcohol causes much more secondary harm than cannabis may prompt lawmakers to tighten alcohol regulations, such as increased sales controls, stricter penalties for driving under the influence, and greater public awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Potential Policy Changes

At the same time, increasing understanding that cannabis causes less social harm may contribute to further liberalization of regulations regarding its use. This could include decriminalization, expansion of legalization and regulation programs for cannabis sales, and reconsideration of workplace drug testing policies.

The study results may also stimulate future research and discussions on public health. Scientists and policymakers may focus on comparing the effects of various substances, leading to more informed decisions regarding regulations and educational programs.

Alcohol vs Cannabis: Summary

Studies show that alcohol causes significantly more social harm than cannabis. Data indicate that 34.2% of respondents reported secondary harm caused by alcohol, while only 5.5% reported such harm related to cannabis.

Alcohol often leads to aggressive behavior and lack of control, while cannabis has milder effects. These findings may influence changes in policies and regulations concerning both substances, as well as future research on their impact on public health.

(Featured image by Artem Labunsky via Unsplash)

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