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Weeding out the worst

Chelsea Keyes | Evergreen Columnist

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There has been a growing debate on whether marijuana or alcohol is more harmful.

In the debate over is the lesser of two evils, it is in no question that the damaging impacts of alcohol vastly outweigh the risks of marijuana.

Though research has shown that both marijuana and alcohol have negative effects on the human body, less harm is done to the body after the use of marijuana.

There are several factors that can contribute to becoming addicted to alcohol such as community upbringing, people whom you are associated with, family habits, and even stressful events like losing a job or a death in the family.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines alcoholism as a medical condition in which someone frequently drinks too much alcohol and becomes unable to live a normal and healthy life.

It does not take much to become addicted to alcohol but it does take a lot to stop the excessive drinking.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, otherwise known as the NIAAA, about 18 million people in the United States have an alcohol use disorder. That includes constantly possessing alcohol then spending an repeated amount of time drinking and recovering from the effects.

However, the consumer is not the only victim of alcohol abuse. Those around the individual can suffer from a person’s bad drinking habits through physical altercations and most importantly drunk driving, not including the emotional toll addiction can take on one’s family.

Marijuana is responsible for causing addiction in nine percent of its users according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as opposed to the 28% of alcohol users who drink at heavy or high-risk levels, according the reports by the National Institutes of Health.

The faster you drink, the faster the alcohol will reach your bloodstream, according to WSU’s Alcohol and Drug Counseling Assessment and Prevention Services, also known as ADCAP.

The concentration of alcohol in your beverage also determines how fast it will be absorbed into your bloodstream.

Alcoholic drinks are high in calories which will grant you the “beer belly” we all love, not to mention the extra calories added from the sugary juices you mix the alcohol with. 

In addition to the long list of risks alcohol presents, drinking too much over time has serious health risks that include but are not limited to permanently damaging your liver, brain and heart.

According to Pullman Regional Hospital spokeswoman Alison Weigley, there is “certainly more than one patient per day” that checks into the Pullman Regional Hospital with alcohol related issues.

This includes people who have taken as little as one drink and is not limited to those who are considered ‘drunk.’

How strong marijuana affects its users lies on the level of strength or potency. Red eyes, a craving for food, dry mouth and throat, sleepiness, and a slowed reaction time are symptoms that you may experience.

Although these are things that happen to the body, they are not nearly as dangerous as the side effects to drinking alcohol. 

The trouble with deciding how much is too much varies based on age, weight, experience, and more. What is even more troublesome are the dangers of an overdose.

The NIAAA highlights that increased blood alcohol contents result in increased impairment. Increased impairment then ultimately leads to life-threatening symptoms such as mental confusion, vomiting, seizures, irregular breathing, coma, or death.

The Alcohol-Drug Education Service lists the long-term effects of marijuana to be a lack of motivation, depression, difficulty with memory, and a weak immune system.

It has been argued that the use of marijuana helps treat the symptoms of medical conditions, hence the name “medical marijuana.” Even though doctors and physicians are allowed to prescribe the drug to certain patients, this is merely an example of how marijuana can be, not only unharmful, but helpfull.

The legalization of marijuana is also justified by those individuals who use it as a source of healing.

GOVERNING magazine reports that twenty states and the District of Columbia have made laws increasing the legality marijuana. So far, only Colorado and Washington State have completely legalized the drug for recreational use, while other states permit the medicinal use of marijuana.

President Barack Obama recently revealed in an interview with the New Yorker that he smoked pot as a kid and how he views it as a bad habit. He also said that he does not think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

The effects of marijuana are in no way comparable to that of abusing alcohol, regardless of usage. It’s time we prioritize what should really be debated when it comes to the legalization of certain substances.

-Chelsea Keyes is a sophomore communication major from Tacoma. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.

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Weeding out the worst