February 26, 2012
Marijuana VS Alcohol and Tobacco
Marijuana has been a greatly debated subject for hundreds of years. Marijuana is illegal under federal law. However, under state law it can be prescribed by a medical physician in 16 out of 50 states, for its scientifically proven medicinal uses. Although marijuana has medicinal uses, it is also used recreationally just like alcohol and tobacco, while alcohol and tobacco with no medicinal uses remain legal. Tobacco even states on a pack of cigarettes: SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health; Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy. Alcohol also states a warning: SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: The Consumption of This Product, Which Contains Alcohol, Can Increase the Risk Of Developing Hypertension, Liver Disease, And Cancer. There are thousands of alcohol- and tobacco-related deaths in America alone, but there has yet to be a marijuana related death ever in history. Marijuana is not just a drug, but a medication. Marijuana is a safer drug than alcohol or tobacco because one cannot overdose from it, and it is used by doctors to help treat diseases.
“Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant. You may hear marijuana called by street names such as pot, herb, weed, grass, boom, Mary Jane, gangster, or chronic. There are more than 200 slang terms for marijuana.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010 page 1). The most common slang term used today (2012) is pot. Every form of marijuana alters the mind and contains THC (tretrahydrocannabinol), which is the main active chemical in marijuana. Marijuana also contains more than 420 other chemicals. There are many potencies of marijuana, it all depends on the amount of THC the marijuana contains. Marijuana is usually consumed by smoking it. It is smoked like a cigarette (called a joint) or a blunt which is as big as a cigar. Marijuana also can be smoked out of a pipe or a bong and also can be mixed into foods (brownies, cookies, and chocolate). It also can be brewed to make tea. When smoked, the effects of marijuana can be felt within seconds. Some of the effects of marijuana are: an increased heart rate, feeling relaxed, reddening of the eyes, dryness of the mouth, impaired motor skills and concentration, an increased desire for salty and sugary foods, and frequent hunger. Marijuana is not legal in the US unless it is consumed for medical puposes only. As of 2012 there are 16 states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, they are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. If a person were to compare marijuana with any other substance, it is very obvious that marijuana is the least harmful to the user. After learning about marijuana, it is time to examine the drug alcohol. “Alcohol is a clear drink that is made from corn, barley, grain, rye, or a beverage containing ethyl. When a person drinks alcohol, about 20 percent is absorbed in the stomach, and 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestine. The concentration of alcohol, the type of drink, and whether the stomach is full or empty depends on how fast the alcohol is absorbed. Once the alcohol is absorbed into the tissue, it affects your mind and body. Blood alcohol concentration can rise up to 20 minutes after having a drink. After alcohol is absorbed it leaves the body in three ways: the kidneys, lungs, and liver.”. (TQ0310171, 2003 page. 1) Alcohol is consumed as a beverage. The effects of alcohol can be felt after the first drink. After the first drink (glass, beer, shot) the user will have a feeling of warmth, slightly impaired judgment, flushed skin, and decreased inhibititions. After the next couple of drinks these effects are intensified and double vision, memory loss, muscle incoordination, and slurred speech may occur. Alcohol is legal in all 50 states in the US as long as the consumer is at least 21. Alcohol is extremely harmful and can easily kill the user if too much is consumed. After learning about marijuana and alcohol, it is now time to learn about tobacco. “Tobacco is a green, leafy plant that is grown in warm climates. After it is picked, it is dried, ground up, and used in different ways. It can be smoked in a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. It can be chewed (called smokeless tobacco or chewing tobacco) or sniffed through the nose (called snuff).” (Jacobs, 1997 page. 1) There are more than 4,000 different chemicals in cigarettes including Nicotine. Nicotine is the chemical that makes tobacco addictive. Once a person smokes, sniffs, or chews tobacco, nicotine streams into the bloodstream, making the user crave more. Nicotine is considered to be a stimulant because it speeds up the nervous system, makes the heart beat faster, raises blood pressure, and makes the user feel like he or she has more energy. Tobacco is legal to consume in all 50 states in the US.
There are many deaths that occur each year from the use of alcohol. If a person were to drink a large amount of alcohol, unconsciousness can occur and if that person were to continue drinking it, it could lead to alcohol poisoning and death. Death can also occur through asphyxiation by puke. There are many people (mostly teens) that abuse alcohol and drink more than there body can handle. A person’s motor skills are greatly affected after drinking alcohol which makes it illegal to drive after drinking. Every day 36 people die and nearly 750 people are injured because of accidents caused by drunk drivers. Alcohol is the drug most abused by teenagers. More than 3,000 teens die each year as a result of drinking. “Excessive alcohol use is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States each year, accounting for approximately 79,000 deaths annualy resulting in approximately 2.4 million Years of Potential Life Lost [1, 2]. Approximately 10% of these deaths occurred in the state of California alone .” (Stahre M, 2010 page 1) Alcohol claims many lives a year, but so does the drug tobacco. “Tobacco use kills approximately 5-6 million people annually worldwide, accounting for 1 in every 5 male deaths and 1 in 20 female deaths in individuals over 30 years of age. On the basis of current smoking patterns, the number of annual deaths due to smoking will rise to around 10 million by 2030, and there will be approximately 1 billion deaths due to smoking in the twenty-first century, of which over 70% will be low- and middle-income countries outside north America and Europe.” (Jha, 2009 page 1) There are hundreds of alcohol and tobacco related deaths each year, but there has never been a marijuana related death in history. There are many people that do not understand why alcohol and tobacco are legal when they kill thousands of people a year, yet marijuana isn’t legal even though it is harmless. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, it has been proven impossible to overdose on marijuana. A person can sit down and smoke or eat as much marijuana as they want and never die from it. “Cannabinoids have a remarkable safety record, particularly when compared to other therapeutically active substances. Most significantly, the consumption of marijuana – regardless of the quantity or potency – cannot induce a fatal overdose. According to a 1995 review prepared for the World Health Organization, “There are no recorded cases of overdose fatalities attributed to cannabis, and the estimated lethal dose for humans extrapolated from animal studies is so high that it cannot be achieved by … users.” (Armentano, 2000-2011) When people look at the statistics of marijuana compared to alcohol or tobacco, it is obvious which of the three is safer.
Marijuana is more than just a drug, it is a medicine prescribed to cancer patients and is prescribed for many other chronic diseases. “For example, in February 2010 investigators at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research publicly announced the findings of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials on the medical utility of inhaled cannabis. The studies, which utilized the so-called ‘gold standard’ FDA clinical trial design, concluded that marijuana ought to be a “first line treatment” for patients with neuropathy and other serious illnesses.” (Armentano, 2000-2011) Medical marijuana is reccomended by doctors for patients who have cancer, many types of arthritis, anorexia, bulimia, or even to people who have severe pain. Marijuana helps allieviate pain, nausea, and helps increase a person’s appetite. Medical marijuana has helped so many people with their chronic diseases. Thanks to marijuana, people with cancer are able to eat, do not feel nauseated, and are able to deal with their pain easier. Marijuana has been beneficial to many people who suffer and has done more good than anything.
When comparing marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco it is very obvious which drug is the safest to consume. Marijuana has been used to treat diseases, there are no deaths that have ever been caused by it, and it is a safer drug of choice when compared to alcohol and tobacco. Even though alcohol and tobacco kill thousands of people a year, they are legal to consume in all 50 states in America, yet marijuana, which is a harmless substance, is legal as a prescription in only 16 out of 50 states in America. There are so many things wrong with that picture. Alcohol and tobacco are very harmful to a person’s health and kill thousands of people a year, but marijuana is harmless. Marijuana should be the drug of choice, because it is the safer choice when compared to alcohol and tobacco.
Armentano, P. (2000-2011). Recent Research on Medical Marijuana. Retrieved from NORML Foundation: http://norml.org/component/zoo/category/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana
Jacobs, M. (1997). Retrieved from FROM THE FIRST TO THE LAST ASH: The History, Economics & Harzards of Tobacco: http://healthliteracy.worlded.org/docs/tobacco/Tobacco.pdf
Jha, P. (2009). Avoidable global cancer deaths and total deaths from smoking.
Nature Reviews. Cancer, 9(9), 655-664.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010, November 27). What Is Marijuana? Retrieved February 7, 2012, from About.com: http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/pot/f/mjkids_faq01.htm
Stahre, M., & Simon, M. (2010). Alcohol-Related Deaths and Hospitalizations by Race, Gender, and Age in California. Open Epidemiology Journal, 33-15.
TQ0310171, T. (2003, March 13). Oracle ThinkQuest EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from Projects by Students for Students: http://library.thinkquest.org/TQ0310171/what_is_alcohol.htm