Science

Wow: New Study Finds Marijuana 100X Less Toxic Than Alcohol, Safer Than Tobacco

Marijuana versus alcohol
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You may or may not have noticed, but these days, marijuana – both the knowledge and usage of it – is quickly becoming more mainstream in comparison to what it once was. And it’s surely creating some buzz when comparing the substance of marijuana to alcohol.

For years, marijuana has bore the stigma of a “gateway drug.” Claims on the substance’s value have been widely debated with those that feel as though marijuana is more toxic than alcohol. But is that ultimately true?

The Truth About Marijuana 

Scientific studies on marijuana have been increasingly on the rise. Gaining popularity in the spotlight, most of these studies conclude with marijuana and its consistent and continual overall health benefits, specifically for mental and physical health concerns.

Even with all the medical research and studies, however, many have continued to have negative connotations about cannabis and its significant properties. And with marijuana now being legalized in several U.S states (and continuing to rise), the question of which is safer, alcohol or marijuana, begs to be challenged.

Which Is Safer: Alcohol Or Marijuana?

The study, titled “Comparative risk assessment of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and other illicit drugs using the margin of exposure approach,” was published in Scientific Reports in January. While other studies merely sought to find a causational relationship between the factors, the MOE (Margin of Exposure) approach allows for a clearer judgment of how risky these substances can be.

Researchers Dirk Lachenmeier and Jurgen Rehm investigated risks that were associated with 10 individual “mind altering” substances. With this approach (based on animal studies), they were able to calculate the ratio between a typical human intake dose, and a dose where the substance becomes dangerous (otherwise known as a toxicological threshold). The higher the MOE, the greater the risk of mortality.

The results were nothing short of surprising. With alcohol consumption ranking the highest, it was followed by nicotine, cocaine, and heroin on the high risk end of the ranked substances. But THC (the active chemical found in marijuana), was the only substance from their experiment that ranked on the opposite spectrum as the lowest risky substance. And with marijuana in the lowest spot, this makes it over 100 times less toxic than alcohol.

Lachenmeier and Rehm were sure to include in their study that our time and efforts should be spent focusing on managing the risks of high-risk substances such as alcohol and tobacco, as opposed to illegal drugs such as marijuana. Their study suggests that substances with low risks like marijuana should be approached with regulation as opposed to prohibition, as it would be most effective and efficient.  

Conclusion

Have we all been underestimating the high risks that can be associated with alcohol? And have the naysayers of marijuana been ignoring or misunderstanding how toxic the substance of marijuana really isn’t?

While many may believe that both substances hold their own toxic properties, when it comes to the odds of immediate death by chemical toxicity, marijuana is about a hundred times safer than alcohol.

So how do you feel knowing that alcohol and marijuana fall on complete opposite ends of the spectrum in relation to risks and mortality?

Sources:

  1. https://www.drugfoundation.org.nz/matters-of-substance/may-2015/cannabis-safer-than-alcohol/
  2. https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/new-study-suggests-risks-marijuana-use-have-been-overestimated/
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