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Friday, January 3, 2014

The Differences Between Alcohol and Marijuana

There has long been a debate on whether alcohol or marijuana is 'safer' or 'healthier.'  This usually centers around the marijuana legalization debate.

Some will say that since alcohol is, in reality, a poison, it is by far more harmful than marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, THC.  Never mind the fact that marijuana smoke is loaded with toxins and has been linked to cancer and damaging DNA.

Marijuana also impairs judgement and motor skills, though it is fairly obvious that there are differences in how this is different from alcohol.  

What many people have pointed out, which bears repeating, is the reason why people smoke marijuana versus why people drink alcohol.  First of all, we don't really 'drink alcohol.'  We drink flavored water with alcohol in it.

Be it wine or beer or distilled spirits, there is an aesthetic to alcoholic beverages.  They come in literally thousands of distinct flavors, all with varying ranges of alcohol present.  In fact, alcohol concentration is not always the most critical factor in alcoholic beverage consumption.

Sure, I remember those days when I watched college students 'suffer' through shots of 'everclear' or tequila brought up from Mexico.  They hated the flavor, but wanted a cheap high.  We all know what that is about.  But, that is not the primary force behind alcoholic beverage sales.  People go on wine-tasting tours not to get high, but find a wine that they enjoy the flavor of.  

While I have not been to a marijuana expo in person, I've watched enough on video and talked to quite a number of avid users to know that people generally don't smoke marijuana with an eye on the flavor as much as the kick.  Smoking a joint with a low THC level is likely to result in disappointment.

That's because the primary purpose of smoking marijuana is to get high.

Yes, there is plenty of talk about the 'pleasures' of smoking pot, but it is almost strictly about the psychoactive effects.  When marijuana is sold, the dealer won't tell you about his bud's "floral notes with a hint of cinnamon."  He's going to tell you how fast and how long you will get high.

I've never heard a marijuana smoker say, "I'll just take a few puffs, because I don't want to get a buzz."  You smoke precisely because you want to get high.

This is where the problem lies: if people are drinking or smoking to get high, then there is a problem.

Sure, plenty of people drink wine or beer or spirits to get drunk.  Yet, you can also drink and not get drunk, or even a 'buzz.'  You can even 'party' and have a good time without getting 'high.'  It really is possible, and there are a lot of people who do.  It is quite possible for a non-abuser of alcohol to be quite happy with the flavor and quality of his drink without getting 'buzzed.'  If you drink regularly, then you can build up a tolerance which prevents moderate amounts from having any effect at all.

So, all the biblical references to wine that talk about merriment are not necessarily talking about drunkenness.  Rather, when drunkenness or being overcome with wine is mentioned, it is always bad.  Think of King David, Nabal, and Noah.

If life is so bad that you need to get high, then it is time not to smoke more pot or guzzle more beer, but examine why you can't get through your week without altering your consciousness.  Man is not designed to be healthy AND impaired.  If you are impaired, you are operating at less than optimal... like a Porsche with a 1,000 lbs. block of concrete in the passenger seat.  Why would you want to have decreased motor skills or lowered mental function.

The mere fact that a 'pot head' has to prove how functional he is ought to tell everyone that he is not.  His protestations are indicative of the problem.  Sober people don't run around telling everyone how sober they are, but those abusing alcohol and marijuana are very often trying to demonstrate their 'sobriety.'

Either that, or they are bragging about how stoned they are.

Impairment is impairment.  It means you are 'less than' who you really are.  If you must escape yourself, then there is a problem within.

Since marijuana users are really looking for impairment, I think that marijuana is quite a bit worse than alcoholic beverages.  That is because I believe that seeking impairment is a sign of dysfunction, which is another word for impairment.   

Life is full of so many blessings, which impairment naturally excludes us from.  If you have a life that is worth missing, perhaps it is time to make it better rather than hide from it.


  1. Great point, I've wondered myself about the differences between these substances and if there is a difference. It's tempting for me to considered edible forms of pot as a viable method of enjoying the THC. It's supposed to be less of a head high and more of a body buzz. But regardless it is the buzz that I'd be after, just another form of self medicating.

  2. "This is where the problem lies: if people are drinking or smoking to get high, then there is a problem."

    sums it up, really. Shout that from the roof tops. Great post. I think many in modern life would be shocked by this perspective, it might well have never occurred to them.

  3. Here are a couple of thoughtful pieces on The American Interest blog site, about the ramifications of marijuana legalization:

    I think this is one of those predicaments for which there is no "magic bullet" policy solution. There is no "perfect" policy - only "better or "worse".