The 'Treat Cannabis Like Alcohol' Debate is Unfair to Cannabis
The recreational use of cannabis was made legal in Massachusetts in November of last year, but now nearly nine months later you still cannot legally buy any as state officials drag their feet in implementing the new law to allow for the establishment of retail outlets.
The state’s Cannabis Control Commission claims that they cannot allow any recreational pot shops to officially open until they approve an independent testing lab first. Apparently 3/4s of a year is not enough time for that.
Meanwhile, on the flip side, the state’s Alcohol Task Force seems a bit more motivated as they have pushed to simultaneously relax the state’s liquor laws while increasing taxes on all the booze sold to create a windfall of revenue for the government.
According to the CDC, 1 in 5 Massachusetts residents drink excessively already – one of the higher ratios in the nation.
In 2016, 31% of all automobile deaths in the state were attributed to drunken driving – nationally we see roughly 88,000 deaths a year by the same cause.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services dietary guidelines state that men should limit their alcohol consumption to two drinks per day.
In the UK the limit is roughly 77% lower than here, recommending just six pints of beer or seven 6oz glasses of wine per week. A recent study by scientists at the University of Cambridge found that after just five drinks per week, each additional drink takes an estimated 30 minutes off of the drinker’s lifespan.
That is how it works with cigarettes too - each grit, 30 minutes.
You know what doesn’t work like that?
You will not find a study about cannabis taking time off of your life expectancy.
You also will not find any studies about cannabis users literally dying from a lack of terps during a tolerance break yet 5-10% of people who suffer from alcohol withdrawal DIE FROM IT.
So how does cannabis legalization get shelved while the booze flows freely?
Well, simply put, the global alcoholic beverages market was valued at $1.34 trillion in 2015 and money talks. Their well-funded lawyers and lobbyists are not ready to cede any ground to the government or the cannabis plant.
By comparison, Massachusetts hoped to rake in roughly $63 million in cannabis tax revenues after legalizing last year – a number sure to get the attention of local lawmakers - but the slow rollout of the program is bound to negatively impact those predictions.
According to the Boston Globe, “in 2010, British researchers ranked alcohol as the most harmful drug, legal or illegal, beating out heroin and crack cocaine.”
Here in the US we are seduced with television ads portraying alcohol as the ticket to the good life and sports stars like Peyton Manning talk about cracking open a cold beer during post-game press conferences.
We often hear cannabis advocates asking to “treat cannabis like alcohol”, and although we understand the sentiment it is not a fair comparison at all.
The best way to lower alcohol consumption, if that is the goal, is to legalize cannabis and make it easily and readily available to those who want it.
According to researchers at Georgia State University and the University of Connecticut, alcohol sales drop 15% or more in states after they legalize medical marijuana.
Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy a night of good smoke and good brews as much as anyone – in moderation. But for those prone to substance abuse, weed and booze are strong substitutes for one another and the fact is that “abusing” cannabis is far, far less harmful than abusing alcohol.