Alcohol vs Marijuana

As of today, medical marijuana is legal in four states, only two of which, Washington and Colorado, have legalized recreational use as well. Millions of people stand on polar opposite sides of the medical debate – and the social controversy. Having been illegal on a federal level for so long, research into its effects has been underfunded, muddled, and scarce. The little data we have speaks loudly, if not always optimistically.

One investigation, led by a professor for the University of California, compared the social and economic aspects of heavy cannabis use to those of alcohol. Clearly, the latter is more likely to cause serious incidents, like car accidents or violent outbursts.

Alcohol vs Marijuana

When it comes quality of life in general—relationships, happiness, productivity—the measurements are less conclusive. Both drugs have been linked to delinquency, especially in young people.

Of 947 cannabis users surveyed, 18 percent were considered marijuana-dependent, and 15 percent were classified as regular users. Most of these individuals were found to have experienced more “downward social mobility” and financial troubles than non-users. They were also found to exhibit more antisocial behaviors—stealing, lying, abuse—especially when it comes to relationships and careers.

It’s hard to measure whether a drug is helpful or hurtful to a society. Since marijuana is still illegal, it still plays into crime rates itself—thus creating a paradox in the data. It’s also hard to determine whether someone’s economic, social, or health situation is a cause of their cannabis use or an effect. Or both.

All these factors make it tricky to conclude one thing or another, especially for a short-term study like this one. Still, findings for this study remained constant, even after controlling for factors such as IQ scores, depression, pre-existing substance addictions, and behavioral issues during adolescence.

When comparing marijuana to alcohol, many accredit the former as the “safe,” addiction-free option. Though this study didn’t investigate the addictive potential of marijuana, it should be noted that cannabis addiction can, and does, happen. Moreover, the expanding medical use of cannabis doesn’t make heavy recreational use acceptable. Just like alcohol, heavy use of marijuana is likely to cause big problems in one’s life, with home, work, school—anything that requires responsibility and drive. Many experts use the term “a-motivational syndrome” to describe the lethargic attitude that may come as a result of marijuana abuse. There’s an obvious link between heavy usage and productivity problems, especially for people who begin using as teens.


We understand the difficulties of substance abuse and addiction.

For marijuana treatment, call Hired Power at 800-910-9299.