President Obama recently gave a fascinating interview to the New Yorker Magazine. He was very candid, admitting to smoking pot as a young man. He also claimed that he did not believe that marijuana was any more dangerous than alcohol. There is plenty of evidence to back up this assertion, but it is not something that most politicians are willing to say. The reality is that drinking alcohol is culturally acceptable while smoking marijuana is not.
Is Cannabis is Less Dangerous than Alcohol?
Despite being so socially acceptable, alcohol is actually considered the most harmful drug around. A study published in the Lancet in 2007 found that drinking was more harmful than even heroin or crack; it has destroyed millions of lives, costing society billions of pounds each year due to lost productivity and alcohol-related crime.
Marijuana is currently classified as a class B drug in the UK, putting it in the same category as amphetamine. This means that possessing it could lead to a 5-year jail sentence, while being caught manufacturing it could lead to a maximum 14-year sentence. It is legal for any one over the age of 18 to drink alcohol, and they can do this as excessively, and as often, as they wish. Up to 10,000 people die each year in the UK due to alcohol abuse; in 2011, the number of those dying directly from cannabis was six.
Marijuana is controlled as a dangerous drug while alcohol is not, despite the fact that the latter is obviously causing more harm for society. Some may be shocked that President Obama would make a statement about marijuana being less dangerous than alcohol, but the real shock is how anyone could think any differently. The problem is that people forget that alcohol is a dangerous drug because it is so culturally acceptable.
Is Cannabis Safe?
There is little doubt that cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol, but this does not mean that smoking it is a good idea. There are definitely dangers associated with using this substance:
- it can lead to addiction and all the suffering that comes with it
- some can become paranoid when using this drug
- cannabis is toxic like tobacco and, as most users mix it with tobacco, it means that it can be even more dangerous than smoking cigarettes, increasing the risk of cancer
- inebriation with this drug can interfere with a person’s ability to make good decisions
- it can trigger symptoms of depression and exacerbate existing mental health problems
- it can have a negative impact on blood pressure and pulse rate
- it can cause men to become infertile because it is said to reduce sperm count
- it can lead to concentration and memory problems
- cannabis can be a gateway drug to stronger substances like heroin.
Is President Obama Promoting Cannabis Use?
It is important to look at President Obama’s words in a proper context – he was giving an interview where he discussed his behaviour as a young man. He was talking about some of the foolish stuff he got up to, including smoking cigarettes well into adulthood. President Obama was no more promoting the use of cannabis than he was the use of cigarettes. His remark about cannabis not being any more dangerous than alcohol is just a fact. The reality is that something can be safer than alcohol and still be very bad for you – this would be the case with most recreational drugs.