Alcohol vs Cannabis when it comes to legality

I want to make an ethical argument that the claims against marijuana legalization fall apart when applied to alcohol. I believe we need to either define in great detail what differentiates marijuana from alcohol because the current arguments can be made to make both legal or illegal. A theme that I would like to stress is that I am not going to argue that marijuana can’t have a negative impact on society. I would like to take a moment to discuss just how similar alcohol and marijuana are when it comes to their affects on society.

One of the most common things I hear on this topic is that marijuana legalization will lead to increased youth use. But according to the National Institute of Health, 18.70% of 8th graders and 53.30% of 12th graders have had alcohol in the last year, compared to 13.90% of 8th graders and 43.60% of 12th graders for marijuana]( Not only are youth’s using marijuana already, but they are using alcohol as well. I am not advocating for youth use, I am pointing out how similar these numbers are.

Another thing I hear is that marijuana causes addiction. I will not be someone who argues that you can’t get addicted to marijuana. But alcoholism is a very real problem for society. The NIH states, “More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems…” There is no use in having me argue which addiction is worse as any addiction is horrible. It puts strain of relationships in all cases, but we cannot argue that marijuana shouldn’t be legal due to a possible rise in addiction when clearly a legal substance is breaking that stance.

Lastly, fatalities. Legalizing marijuana will lead to more traffic fatalities, but alcohol causes fatalities and always has been a problem because of that. From the CDC, “In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.” In many of the studies I looked at for marijuana induced driving fatalities, a common note was added that a positive THC result doesn’t necessarily mean the driver was high at the moment of driving. I had trouble finding an clear number for that from a government source, but according to Pew, “In Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, there were 51 fatalities in 2016.” Granted, that isn’t the national figure, but my point is deaths will happen for both. Anyway, I just wanted to say that all drugs bring negative effects to society. For me, passing a law banning the use of any substance is taking a right away. Anytime we take an individuals right away, there needs to be a clear reason on why that is the case. But with marijuana, there really isn’t a clear argument on why it is illegal but alcohol isn’t.


Please let me know what you think!

The primary difference between alcohol and marijuana in the US is that the former is a multi-billion dollar industry with a powerful lobby in DC.


Alcohol is poison and can kill you

Yes, but marijuana is catching up fast.

And when it does we’ll see a more relaxed attitude about it. :wink:


Yes, 100%

1 Like

I think history has shown the human condition requires ways for people to escape, call it self medicating… it simply is what it is. Alcohol has filled that role as far as we can remember.

There have always been other drugs, but most have carried stigmas, and not by accident. Humans are smart, it’s not by accident how we “rank” drugs socially, or that marijuana has always been considered differently.

While I am not a proponent of widespread legalization of drugs, I think prohibition would (and did) end far worse. In the context of the above I think both should be legal and I am comfortable with both being the “acceptable” ways people self medicate.

Addiction is a separate animal IMO, and in that light marijuana is really not a concern.

As an LEO I’ll just state the following, most of which is better for marijuana than alcohol (by the way I enjoy alcohol so none of these comments should be taken as if I’m arguing for alcohol prohibition):

  1. In over two decades of law enforcement I’ve yet to see an incident where someone high on ONLY marijuana did something violent to anyone or me. I go on multiple calls a day of people being violent on alcohol as alcohol use along with our shoddy mental health care are the two biggest sources of job security in the country.

  2. Alcohol causes more problems on the law enforcement side than ALL other drugs, both legal and illegal, COMBINED.

  3. I don’t believe the gateway drug argument as the real gateway drugs are alcohol and cigarettes. That said its pretty rare to actually find drug dealer peddling in only marijuana as they usually have other drugs with them.

  4. Marijuana is absolutely impairing on a driving sense. Some of the worst impaired drivers I’ve had were stoned on pot. However its not an argument against marijuana because MJ DUI’s are not difficult, you just have to do a blood test and most places have streamlined the blood draw / search warrant process. Its only in states without blood draws or where the process is lengthy that its a good argument against MJ because MJ moves from the blood to the fat cells of the body quickly so you can have someone stoned and impaired but showing minimal levels of THC in the blood after a couple of hours. Thats why its foolish to pass per se levels, like the .08 BAC alcohol level, for marijuana.

  5. If I had to choose between someone drinking alcohol near me or someone smoking pot I’ll choose the alcohol drinker 100% of the time. Pot smokers are some of the most inconsiderate people there are as they force everyone in range to smell it while the alcohol drinker goes unnoticed unless his behavior does something.

  6. I’d legalize without hesitation but I’d make it illegal to smoke it in public or in any multiple occupancy residence (like an apartment building) due to the noxious odor.

1 Like

Here is my argument: it is not the purview of the central government to protect consenting adults from ourselves by turning us in to criminals.

Ohhh, check out Milton Chomsky Brooks Friedman with the experience-based thoughtful argument. Easy there guy.

Joking aside,I totally agree with your points. The smell really annoys me these days when it’s in unexpected places (decent hotels, city streets in commercial areas during the day, etc.)

I dunno, to me the smell of weed (good weed, anyway) isn’t unpleasant, and is certainly preferable to the smell of tobacco smoke…

It’s not just the human condition. Animals seek out intoxication as well (fermented berries, whatever).

I like the smell of good weed myself but also agree that it’s inconsiderate to smokes in public areas.

I’m getting old, I think. I used to enjoy the smell too :smile:

No thank you please, it only makes me sneeze. Then it makes it hard to find me door.

I was in Las Vegas last week. First time I’d been there since Nevada legalized weed. Walking the strip was a horrible experience as you could smell pot smoke multiple times every block. The smell gives me a very visceral unpleasant reaction, sort of like most people react when they walk into a house that has been overwhelmed by cat urine ammonia smells.

Every third person had an open container of alcohol it seemed but no one spilled it on me or fell drunk into me so it was irrelevant. Every weed smoker though forced everyone who walked within 100 ft to smell it.

Although both impair the user (abuser) who then do zany things like kill people with vehicles and firearms, injure themselves and or others in the workplace, become a burden to others because of dependency.
Yep, booze bad; weed not so bad?

like I said… Alcohol is poison qnd can in fact kill you… Weed can not… Simple as that

My cat loves his catnip. It’s called meowijuana. There’s a black cat dressed like a hippie as the logo.

1 Like

Opium addicted parrots