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UK Study: Marijuana Is Safer than Alcohol

UK Study: Marijuana Is Safer than Alcohol

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 11/02/2011 in Medical Marijuana Studies

We’ve known for ages that marijuana is safer than alcohol, but a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the journal of the British Association of Psychopharmacology, proves it.

The study, called Popular intoxicants: what lessons can be learned from the last 40 years of alcohol and cannabis regulation?, assessed the physical, psychological and social harms of the two most frequently used intoxicant drugs in the UK: cannabis and alcohol. They note that a rise in alcohol abuse goes hand in hand with “significant increases in liver cirrhosis hospital admissions and mortality, at a time when mortality rates from other major causes are on the decline.”  They note that alcohol is more than twice as harmful as cannabis to users [individuals], and five times as harmful as cannabis to others [society]. And they refer to alcohol as a toxic substance that is the cause of about five percent of the “total global disease burden.”

These findings aren’t exactly revolutionary. And they aren’t exclusive to the UK, where the study was conducted. As outlined in his op/ed called Pot Versus Alcohol: Experts Say Booze Is the Bigger Danger, Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML, outlined similar studies from a variety of countries:

  • In 1989, a California state research advisory panel asserted “an objective consideration of marijuana shows that it is responsible for less damage to the individual and to society than are alcohol and cigarettes.”
  • In the mid-1990s, the World Health Organization concluded: “Overall, most of these risks (associated with marijuana) are small to moderate in size. In aggregate they are unlikely to produce public health problems comparable in scale to those currently produced by alcohol and tobacco.  On existing patterns of use, cannabis poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol and tobacco in Western societies.”
  • In 1998, French scientists at the state medical research institute INSERM categorized alcohol, heroin, and cocaine as the most dangerous drugs, and determined that cannabis posed the least danger to public health.
  • In 2002, a special Canadian Senate Committee determined, “scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue.”
  • In 2007, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare hired a team of scientists to assess the impact of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs on public health. Researcher reported that the consumption of alcohol was significant contributors to death and disease. “Alcohol harm was responsible for 3.2 percent of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia,” they concluded. By comparison, cannabis use was responsible for zero deaths and only 0.2 percent of the estimated total burden of disease and injury in Australia.

For the study at hand, the UK researchers concluded “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.” We would add that these findings are just as applicable in the US and other countries around the world.

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