Defying years of falsified research, propaganda, and misinformation, a number of recent studies have shown that marijuana is in fact far less harmful than alcohol, its socially acceptable counterpart.
The results of one study, published by The Journal of School Health, showed that alcohol use – and not marijuana use – is the “primary indicator” of one’s future use of illicit substances. The study used a sample of grade 12 students and showed that students who had consumed alcohol were 13 times more likely to use cigarettes and 16 times more likely to use narcotics. It also showed that alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among first-time drug users.
Another study, published by Yale University, found that people who used alcohol or tobacco as a teenager were nearly twice as likely to suffer from opiate addictions later in life than people who only used marijuana.
While it remains difficult to change the mindset of many who have been convinced by the Reefer Madness movement of the 1930s and Nixon’s War on Drugs that marijuana is a dangerous and harmful gateway drug, more and more research is proving that the government-funded and paranoia-inducing ‘facts’ of the past hold little truth.
Perhaps the most surprising of the ‘pro-pot’ studies is a publically-funded report published in 2002 by the Senate Committee of Canada, which called for a revised public policy on marijuana distribution and, like the previously mentioned studies, rejected the idea of marijuana being a gateway drug.
The report also concluded that cannabis itself is not a direct cause of delinquency or violence, and though one can become habitually dependent on it, “dependence caused by cannabis is less severe and less frequent than dependence on other psychotropic substances, including alcohol and tobacco.”
It also went as far as to say that “Cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue.”
Although it’s taken over a decade for any of this research to start gaining ground in the media, one doesn’t need to look to science to know that though alcohol is the more legal and socially acceptable of the two substances, you’re definitely more likely to snort a line or take ecstasy if you’re drinking than if you’re stoned.
Similarly, you’d be hard pressed to find two people who have just indulged in a little ganja in the middle of a fistfight or a domestic dispute, unless they’re having a difficult time agreeing on which flavour of Doritos to buy.
Marijuana has been vilified for over a century and public discussion regarding the truth about this plant is long overdue. Though it is clearly difficult to create legislature around a substance that is being used both medicinally and recreationally, how can any government continue to justify a licit substance like alcohol, which has absolutely no medicinal properties and is a known factor in countless violent situations, without at least putting marijuana in the same category?
Though Canada may be a few years behind California, The Netherlands, or Uruguay – which recently became the first country to completely legalize marijuana – the argument against the plant no longer holds water. With cannabis being our westerly neighbour’s largest export, even exceeding all lumber and agricultural products, it’s only a matter of time before similar laws are put into place in Alberta.