What’s more dangerous, Marijuana or Alcohol?

Hi Moshpodders, We’re trying and do more blog posts on great pods for more suggested listening between our shows. Just a link where you can download or listen, some brief thoughts and a place to share discussion.

If Marijuana and Alcohol were both just discovered tomorrow, which ones would be legal?


This was the question we posed in our podcast, “Dodgy Practices P1” (https://moshpod.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/dodgy-practices-part-1-2/), released 9th April 2014.

This is taken up in earnest by the Freakanomics boys in their latest podcast, “What’s more dangerous, Marijuana or Alcohol?” (http://www.wnyc.org/story/whats-more-dangerous-marijuana-or-alcohol/), released 17th April 2014.

So firstly, It’s awesome to see the Freakanomics boys are listening to Moshpod for inspiration and ideas! (Hi Steve).  It’s a great question as it strips away the convoluted legal and social history that’s attached to both alcohol and marijuana (man I’d be screwed without spell check I can never spell marijuana, it would always be muriwana or murijawana, it’s because when u buy it it’s never written on the label) and lets us try to weigh up the pros and cons of using these drugs, the effects on the individual and on society.

In the pod they raise lots of great points and cover both sides, the two most insightful/interesting parts for me were firstly that most of the boffins on the show thought that if alcohol were just discovered now the health risks combined with the negative effects of on society would probably make it illegal. They go into the crime statistics and it’s pretty full on how connected alcohol and crime really are, so much crime goes down committed by people under the effects of alcohol, way more than marijuana or any other drug, or absence of any drugs for that matter. Of course they also raise the point that alcohol is easily available, comparatively cheap and widely consumed so one doesn’t clearly equal the other but some link is undeniable.

The other thing, one guy said that the negative health effects of smoking marijuana were less than consuming alcohol and importantly, cigarettes. He said that because marijuana burns at a lower temperature than tobacco, it has less of the harmful respiratory effects associated with smoking tobacco and that regular marijuana users generally smoke less quantity of burned material than regular cigarette smokers. Again this needs to be qualified by the fact that there’s lots more info available to scientists on the negative effects of both alcohol and tobacco consumption than marijuana. Also they don’t point it out but most dope smokers mix tobacco and marijuana precisely because it does burn better and often get addicted to nicotine this way, far more addictive than the marijuana itself.

Further on this point, I don’t think it was in this episode but on another recent Freakanomics episode they were talking to some doctors who are using Cannabis extracts to treat all sorts of medical conditions, physical and psychological, with the good green. When questioned on the benefits of smoking marijuana they said “great drug, bad delivery method”.

So overall I think that either drug, alcohol or marijuana, have the benefits they go over in the show, social lube, relaxation, kicking out, all that fun stuff so if either are used responsibly sall good and neither should be illegal, it’s just a personal choice. But if you draw back and look at it from above, both can be psychologically addictive, while only alcohol is physically addictive. If a long-term heavy user of alcohol  goes cold turkey the physical implications are pretty nasty and it can be dangerous of even fatal to do it without precautions such as big vitamin B shots in the bum etc etc. Cold Turkey off dope doesn’t have any of these immediate physical effects but all of the longer term effects of withdrawal such as insomnia, depression, raised blood pressure, anxiety etc etc.

It’s also worth noting at some point, so why not here, that alcohol has been a very important part of human development. Ritualistically it is sacred to many cultures and religions with its varied use going way back into antiquity so it has that great historical weight and social acceptance, or even celebration behind it. Perhaps more importantly it was a crucial and practical tool of life in the middle ages and early modernity. Not only was beer an important caloric source for these people, as more and more people started to living closer together, the origins of our mega cities, alcohol was a way for people to make nasty water a little safer to drink, even babies were weened from mothers milk to beer! Sounds like The Governor!

We explore this issue a bit more in our Dodgy Practices P1 episode, and also how some say tea enabled the industrial revolution. As people began to boil their water the need to mix in alcohol was reduced and basically the workforce wasn’t smashed by lunchtime everyday so they could work more, lucky them.

So with Humans being the complicated animals that you are, so many unfulfilled needs and wants, with your love of self medicating, it’s easy to see how both these drugs, and all the others, will be used like a crutch by some to try to navigate this messy world, with varying degrees of success and damage, both personal and collateral.

To sum up, personally I feel like if everyone in the world that ever came dependant on or overused alcohol or marijuana or any other mind altering addictive drug for whatever reason were automatically all shifted to the “Marijuana Dependency and Overuse Camp” #MDOC, then overall the world would be a much better place, certainly less domestic violence and impulsive crime.

Thanks guys, don’t forget to tell us why we are so ignant.

Check out the Freakanomics episode, What’s more dangerous, Marijuana or Alcohol?

Listen or download here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/whats-more-dangerous-marijuana-or-alcohol/

or check out their website for lots more at www.freakanomics.com.

Posted by Bang.



4 thoughts on “What’s more dangerous, Marijuana or Alcohol?

  1. You’re right Bang, I do like the sounds of drunk children wandering the streets. Hopefully they will commit ultra- violence on all the do- gooder and conservative elements in society who are intent on maintaining the status quo. On the topic of dope and grog, why not let people indulge as long as they do it in moderation, that is; they do not harm others, can remain a functioning member of society, do not suffer mentally for using their source of release and use it in a way that positively enhances their enjoyment of life. Sounds very utopian, maybe not so realistic but hopefully it could lead to neither drug being “dangerous”.

    The Governor

  2. Cool thanks for the tip I haven’t heard of this show and the ol spurlock usually has some cool ideas, I’ll look forward to checking it out

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