Author: John Carter

Is Pot Actually a Healthier Than Alcohol? New Data on Cannabis

alcohol vs weed

The short-term effects of weed and alcohol differ from person to person. But despite eating over 600 extra calories when smoking, marijuana users generally don’t have higher body-mass indexes. In fact, studies suggest that regular smokers have a slightly reduced risk of obesity.

alcohol vs weed

The evidence is mounting that your daily toke can be bad for your heart. A large new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that the more often someone partakes in cannabis, the higher their risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Daily users had a 25% higher chance of having a heart attack and 42% higher odds of a stroke than non-users. For the study, which was published in January, researchers used fMRI scans to see how two alcoholic drinks impacts brain function in 50 healthy adult males. Compared with sober participants, the intoxicated volunteers were found to have reduced functioning in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain linked with moderating social behavior. As with the short-term effects of alcohol and weed, the long-term effects differ from person to person.

Marijuana appears to be significantly less addictive than alcohol.

Keep in mind that there are dozens of factors to account for when comparing the health effects of alcohol and marijuana, including how the substances affect your heart, brain, and behavior, and how likely you are to get hooked. With recreational marijuana becoming legal in several states, cannabis-infused mocktails, seltzers and alcohol-free wines are hitting the market, often sold as a shortcut to a healthier high. These drinks are not the beverages that contain small doses of CBD, a compound found in marijuana and hemp that doesn’t get you high, which have been trendy for the last decade. Marijuana drinks are made with THC, the intoxicating substance in cannabis, and customers seem willing to try them. But doctors and cannabis researchers said marijuana beverages come with their own set of risks, and a long list of questions.

alcohol vs weed

While both are intoxicants used recreationally, their legality, patterns of use and long-term effects on the body make the two drugs difficult to compare. The way you consume weed can have a big impact on its short- and long-term effects. For example, smoking is rough on your lungs, but this risk doesn’t apply to edibles. Still, because of marijuana’s largely illegal status, long-term studies on all its health effects have been limited — meaning more research is needed. When it comes to addiction profiles, risk of death or overdose, and links to cancer, car crashes, violence, and obesity, the research suggests that marijuana may be less of a health risk than alcohol.

Alcohol appears to be linked more closely with weight gain, despite weed’s tendency to trigger the munchies.

But cigarette smoking plays a complicated role in studying the impact of marijuana smoke, Baler said. Marijuana smokers tend to smoke much less than cigarette smokers, as some may smoke one joint a few times a week. But while early studies showed some evidence linking marijuana to lung cancer, subsequent studies have debunked that association. Unlike alcohol, Baler said, the effects of chronic marijuana use are not as well established. Additionally, there is evidence marijuana can worsen psychiatric issues for people who are predisposed to them, or bring them on at a younger age. Finally, Baler said, because the drug is typically smoked, it can bring on bronchitis, coughing and chronic inflammation of the air passages.

The results showed that among people of all ages, alcohol was the seventh leading risk factor for deaths in 2016. Both weed and alcohol temporarily impair memory, and alcohol can cause blackouts by rendering the brain incapable of forming memories. The most severe long-term effects are seen in heavy, chronic, or binge users who begin using in their teens.

  1. Finally, Baler said, because the drug is typically smoked, it can bring on bronchitis, coughing and chronic inflammation of the air passages.
  2. But cigarette smoking plays a complicated role in studying the impact of marijuana smoke, Baler said.
  3. Still, the largest-ever report on cannabis from the National Academies of Sciences, released in January, found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis may increase the overall risk of a heart attack.
  4. The January report found that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers tied to smoking cigarettes.

Public health researchers have said studying rates of injuries, accidents, mental illness and teen use in the wake of the new laws will lead to a better understanding of marijuana’s public health effects. In November 2017, a group of the nation’s top cancer doctors issued a statement asking people to drink less. They cited strong evidence that drinking alcohol — as little as a glass of wine or beer a day — increases the risk of developing both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer.

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The finding aligns with some previous research on alcohol’s connections with violence. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes, and a study of college students found that the rates of mental and physical abuse were higher on days when couples drank. Having a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.05%, on the other hand, increased that risk by 575%. Rebel Coast, a California-based winemaker, makes cans of alcohol-free sparkling wine infused with 10 milligrams of THC. There is no known medical use for consumed alcohol, but there are health benefits observed in moderate drinkers, including lower rates of cardiovascular disease and possibly fewer colds, Murray said.

The question of whether alcohol or marijuana is worse for health is being debated once again, this time, sparked by comments that President Barack Obama made in a recent interview with The New Yorker magazine. On the surface, weed appears to be safer, but there’s simply not enough evidence to declare a winner. Cannabis addiction is surprisingly common, however, according to 2015 study.

While being intoxicated with weed feels different than being intoxicated with alcohol, the two have roughly the same effect on your cognitive abilities, reflexes, and judgment. If you do get hungover, you might experience other effects, including headaches and diarrhea. Getting drunk or high can feel similar to some people, while others describe the sensations as very different.

“Researchers are working around the clock to try to identify the ingredients in marijuana that have potential,” to benefit human health, Baler said. People’s responses to each substance can vary greatly, so what seems safer for one person might not work for someone else. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 15 million people in the United States deal with it. While one person might feel relaxed while drunk, another might feel restless.

As for marijuana, whose legalization for medical uses has been a matter of strong public policy debate for years, there is ample evidence that beneficial compounds can be found in the plant. Drinking can lead to alcoholic liver disease, which can progress to fibrosis of the liver, which in turn can potentially lead to liver cancer, Murray said. Because marijuana can impair coordination and balance, there is the risk of hurting oneself, particularly if someone drives or chooses to have unprotected sex while their inhibitions are lowered, Baler said. These are two areas where people using marijuana could hurt themselves for the short and long term. Marijuana affects the cardiovascular system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, but a person can’t fatally overdose on pot like they can with alcohol, Baler said. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Obama said during the interview.

“There are segments of the population that want to bypass the entire process, grabbing this nugget of truth … and claiming smoking marijuana can be good for your health and have medical uses,” Baler said. “You can die binge-drinking five minutes after you’ve been exposed to alcohol. That isn’t going to happen with marijuana,” said Ruben Baler, a health scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Both weed and alcohol can carry a potential for misuse and addiction, but this appears to be more common with alcohol. On the other hand, self-harm and suicide are much more common among people who binge drink or drink frequently. But scientists have had a hard time deciphering whether excessive alcohol use causes depression and anxiety or whether people with depression and anxiety drink in an attempt to relieve those symptoms.

Of course, the way you feel when you’re intoxicated also depends on how much of the substance you consume. For example, one person may have a very low tolerance for weed but be able to tolerate alcohol well. Another person might not have any issues with misusing alcohol but still find it hard to function without weed. Sure, research on the topic is ramping up a bit, but there’s still a lack of large, long-term studies. It’s a tough call, but based on the peer-reviewed science, there appears to be a clear answer.