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Marijuana Is Less Harmful Than Alcohol to the Consumer and the Community — It’s Time to Let Adults Make the Safer Choice

 

Marijuana is less toxic, less addictive, and less harmful to the body than alcohol, and it does not contribute to violent and reckless behavior.  

Unlike marijuana use, alcohol use causes tens of thousands of deaths. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 36,000 annual U.S. deaths are attributed to chronic alcohol use. The CDC does not even have a category for deaths caused by the use of marijuana. 

People die from alcohol overdoses. There has never been a fatal marijuana overdose. Alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs and using just 10 times what one would use to get the desired effect could lead to death. There has never been a case of an individual dying from a marijuana overdose. Meanwhile, according to the CDC, hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths occur in the United States each year.

The health-related costs associated with alcohol use far exceed those for marijuana use. Health-related costs for alcohol consumers are eight times greater than those for marijuana consumers, according to an assessment published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal — $165 per alcohol user, compared to $20 per marijuana user.

Alcohol is more addictive than marijuana. Addiction researchers have consistently reported that marijuana is far less addictive than alcohol based on a number of factors. In particular, alcohol use can result in significant and potentially fatal physical withdrawal, whereas marijuana has not been found to produce any symptoms of physical withdrawal. Alcohol users are also much more likely to develop dependence and build tolerance.

Alcohol use increases the risk of injury to the consumer. Marijuana use does not. Research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that 36% of hospitalized assaults and 21% of all injuries are attributable to alcohol use by the injured person. Meanwhile, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that lifetime use of marijuana is rarely associated with emergency room visits.

Alcohol use is a major factor in violent crimes. Marijuana use is not. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 25-30% of violent crimes in the United States are linked to the use of alcohol. That translates to about 5,000,000 alcohol-related violent crimes per year. By contrast, the government does not even track violent acts specifically related to marijuana use, as the use of marijuana has not been associated with violence.

 

Prohibition Hasn’t Stopped Marijuana Consumption  — It’s Just Deprived the State of Revenue and Control 

  • 750,000 adults in Illinois reported consuming marijuana in the past month.
  • As of March 2017, around 17,000 consumers are medical cannabis patients, or about 2.5% of the total number of regular consumers.
  • The other 97.5% of adult cannabis consumers today in Illinois are served by the underground, criminal market.
  • Between 163.96 metric tons (5,783,481 ounces) and 327.92 metric tons (11,566,962 ounces) of cannabis are consumed each year in Illinois.
  • If taxed at $50 per ounce at the wholesale level, plus Illinois’ current retail tax rate of 6.25%, the state should expect between $350 million and $700 million, which currently goes to criminal organizations. For a closer look at these figures and how they were derived, click here.

 

"Why Regulate?"

Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition.

  • National polls regularly show a clear majority of Americans agree it is time to end marijuana prohibition and make marijuana legal.
  • A recent poll in Illinois showed even stronger support, with 66% of Illinois voters supporting “the legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol.”

Regulating marijuana like alcohol will help replace the underground market with a tightly regulated market. Adults will no longer need to meet with dealers in alleys and parking lots, and they will have a safe, tested product instead of one that may be contaminated with dangerous pesticides or molds. Authorities will actually know who is selling it, where it is being sold, when, and to whom.

If marijuana is regulated for adults, sales will benefit legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of violent drug cartels, and states and localities will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

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