Jan 23, 2014

Get Fact: is marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol?

US President Barack Obama has said marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol. Crikey intern David Ross takes a look at the figures in Australia to see if that's true.

New Yorker magazine journalist David Remnick recently wrote a profile of United States President Barack Obama in which he asked the President his views on marijuana, which has been legalised in one US state (Colorado). Obama’s response made global headlines: 


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15 thoughts on “Get Fact: is marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol?

  1. Mark Duffett

    Hmmm. This piece misses that there is increasing evidence long-term cannabis use increases the risk of mental illness including psychosis:

  2. James Aspinall

    Cannabis is also legal in Washington State, not just Colorado.

  3. AR

    Wotta surprise that Drug free Australia founds deaths “attributable” to cannabis. There is LD50 for cannabis, not even pure THC which existeth not outside government laboratories, despite the valiant efforts of amerikan authorities to discern its lethal nature.
    The best (sic! worst)that has been identified is cannabis in the form of hashish can kill if 100 gms per kilo of body weight is dropped on the subject’s skull from above the 10th floor.
    Please let us not have any nonsense about current strains of skunk/hydro being too strong. Hashish is generally between 20-40% THC content, skunk rarely over 15%.

  4. AR

    would be “there is NO LD50..”

  5. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    The whole comparison thing is so last century. Why not make dope smoking legal in Kings Cross/Fortitude Valley/Lygon Street etc. and see if that changes the nature of the place.

  6. Dogs breakfast

    Links of cannabis use to mental illness will always suffer the chicken and egg problem, and no amount of research will be able to reliably clarify the extent to which cannabis causes mental illness, or mental illness leads to excessive cannabis use.

    So much of the rest of this, while worthy, is based on statistics that are so rubbery as to be useless. You just have to look at how car accidents are attributed to speed (the motion, not the drug) regardless of whether speed actually caused the accident or not. Describing something as a ‘factor’ is as useful as describing whether the person was breathing or not as a factor. (the vast majority of accidents are by people who were breathing prior to the accident, therefore it is clearly a ‘factor’.)

    The best view on cannabis versus alcohol is to look at the individual effects, which this has done to the extent that it can be, again with unreliable statistics, and then to look at the social costs.

    Cannabis is more likely to lead to withdrawn or dulled behaviour and limited ability to take offence or get especially riled, and in studies is shown as leading to very cautious, even if not particularly good driving.

    Alcohol is behind immense amounts of violence, domestic and otherwise, and dangerous behaviour on the roads. Huge social costs.

    If cannabis was legal, and alcohol illegal, there is reason to believe that our society would be very different indeed.

    We wouldn’t be talking about one-punch killings after bonging on all night, that’s for sure.

  7. AR

    In the Sydney Uni study done in 1984 comparing the effects on driving of alcohol & cannabis, (using US government supplied weed of calibrated potency)it was found that stoned drivers were orders of magnitude safer than drunken ones, not because they weren’t befuddled but because they KNEW it and took fewer, if any risks, whereas everyone knows that booze make one invulnerable and above the laws of physics.

  8. Kevin Herbert

    My brother was posted to the Murray Valley region as a young Victorian copper, and noticed that once the police were asked to clamp down on cannabis smoking there in the early 1970’s, the violence rates rocketed upwards as the seasonal fruit pickers returned to alcohol as the only available legal drug.

    It’s a no-brainer really.

  9. Rena Zurawel

    It is yet another international campaign against alcohol and for legalising marijuana.
    Very strange.
    At the same time nobody mentions cocaine and heroine.
    Very strange.
    Why nobody suggests delegalisation of both: alcohol and drugs plus gambling?
    Very strange.

  10. Philip Bond

    Protected consumption of alcohol denigrates brain function as indicated in the article affecting some far greater than others. Long term effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the psychoactive constituent of cannabis are, in my opinion far more serious and debilitating to the consumer, especially the young. I’ve seen first hand the carnage reaped on the vulnerable through protracted cannabis consumption. Our lungs are for oxygenating the blood nor filtering harmful gasses (tobacco and Marijuana).

    Medicinal benefits aside, cannabidiol (CBD) are available in ‘pill’ form, long term consumption of cannabis will, again in my opinion, increase those in ‘care’ facilities due to greatly impaired cognitive ability. The real effects of THC, will reveal in generations to come as the science discipline Epigenetics will show.

    My question is, would you intentionally cause harm to your children’s children’s children?

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