Alcohol vs Marijuana - Comparative Essay

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Hizer Cole Hizer English Composition Professor Martin 11/7/12

Common Nonsense In America, competition always comes in two's, in the political landscape we have the Republicans versus the Democrats, the forever dueling Coca-Cola and Pepsi, fast food giants Burger King and McDonalds, but when it comes to inebriation only two substances remain, Marijuana and Alcohol. Both of these substances continue to be an ever growing source of debate throughout the United States. But while Alcohol is legal, marijuana remains illegal. Making a substance illegal would mean that it is detrimental to a persons' mental and physical state, therefore, a legal substance is by definition healthier. But what if that isn't the case? According to the World Health Organization, in the year 2011 four percent of deaths worldwide are attributed to Alcohol usage while a total of zero deaths in all of medical history are linked to marijuana usage. So why is Alcohol legal while Marijuana is not? Marijuana or Cannabis, has been described by an administrative law judge at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as, “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”(3) The federal government even reports that over 100 million U.S. Citizens admit to smoking Marijuana yet they still deem it as one of society's most dangerous drugs. One might wonder how a substance demonized by many of America's elected officials remains so popular among the American public. “Perhaps the answer is that politicians and the main stream media are just reinforcing each others talking points, while much of the rest of America now accepts

Hizer marijuana for what it is, a relatively safe substance that is frequently used responsibly by million of people.” (Chelsea Green, 2009) Well, that may be the case for a certain segment of the population, but this enlightened attitude is far from universal. So just how many Americans regularly consume pot and alcohol? According to 2007 data published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 66 percent of the population aged twelve or older (roughly 163 million Americans) consumed alcohol during the past year, and just over half of all Americans (127 million) drink booze regularly. In comparison, how many Americans regularly smoke pot? Every year, researchers from the United States Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) poll Americans regarding their use of licit and illicit substances. According to SAMHSA roughly 25 million Americans have consumed cannabis in the past year, and 15 million define themselves as monthly users. Despite pot's popularity, surveys indicate that many people still hold many misconceptions about the plant and its effects. “In fact, some one-fifth to one-third of Americans assume that pot is more harmful than alcohol. Another one-third of Americans consider marijuana to be equally as harmful as alcohol.”(Chelsea green, 2009) No one is saying cannabis is harmless. Nevertheless, almost all drugs, including many that are legal, pose greater threats to individual health when compared to marijuana . “To date, virtually every federally commissioned government study ever conducted on the subject affirms this conclusion.” (3) So what does the government say about alcohol? First and foremost, Alcohol is significantly more addictive than marijuana. Chronic alcohol use, as well as over-indulgence, can lead to organ damage and death. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 35,000 Americans die annually as the direct result of alcohol consumption. By contrast, no study to date has ever identified a link

Hizer between long-term marijuana use and increased mortality. Alcohol use is associated with a wide variety of cancers, including cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, lungs, pancreas, liver and prostate. Marijuana use has not been conclusively associated with any form of cancer. In fact, one study conducted for...
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