05 April 2022 |

A World Without Alcohol 

By Matthew O'Brien

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Imagine a world in which more people consume cannabis vs alcohol.

What would this world look like? What are the medical implications of such a sharp shift in the substances we consume? Would we be better off from such a change?

Where To Begin

Before we begin, we want to emphasize that we do not in any way support the idea that alcoholic beverages should be banned.

We believe adults are smart enough to moderate their own consumption of alcohol, just as they are capable of moderating their consumption of cannabis.

All that said, do we feel alcohol should be approached and maybe even regulated differently than it is now? Maybe, however, that’s not the point and it begins to encroach on personal freedoms as we head down that path.

The point is that while society accepts, and even embraces, alcohol as a substance, despite clear dangers and side effects: we don’t do the same for cannabis.

Less Car Accidents 

Despite having access to an abundance of data that clearly indicates that cannabis is many multiples safer to consume than booze, cannabis remains illegal in 99% of nations while alcohol remains legal in 99% of nations.

Cannabis hasn’t shown to cause the number of car accidents alcohol has caused, by any stretch of the imagination. 

In the cannabis of alcohol, it’s abundantly clear that consuming excessive quantities of this substance impairs your motor skills, however, the same cannot be said about cannabis with very inconclusive evidence.

While there are pieces of evidence suggesting cannabis legalization has led to an increased risk of fatal car crashes, there are also studies that paint an opposite picture – highlighting the lack of any clear conclusion.

Correlation vs Causation 

Unlike alcohol, cannabinoids such as CBD & THC remain in our blood stream for weeks after consuming these molecules.

This means when someone is tested for THC, there’s a strong chance that despite not consuming any cannabis for several weeks, the test can still render a positive result. 

This makes separating correlation vs causation in the context of someone testing positive for cannabinoids after a car accident, for example, extremely difficult.

Impairment From Alcohol 

When it comes to alcohol, the picture is crystal-clear.

An average of 28 Americans die every single day from drunk driving accidents.

Not drunk driving AND cannabis, not fatal car accidents for other reasons, not alcoholism or alcohol-related diseases. Drunk driving.

That’s one American killed every 52 minutes. 

Of course, prohibition will always bring an illicit supply. We can’t ignore that, however, it’s interesting to imagine if alcohol never existed, 28 more Americans would live every single day, 196 people each week & 10,192 people each year.

The Correct Priorities?

When I (Kaitlin) was 15 years old, I sat through driver’s education 5-days a week for six weeks, as required by the state of Texas before getting a driver’s license.

As part of this mandatory driver’s education program, the class was shown a (staged) video called “Red Asphalt”.

The video depicted how gruesome and bloody car accidents can really be, especially driving under the influence. The asphalt literally painted red with blood because of the damage done by drunk driving. 

I was never shown any such video for cannabis, such that despite the current scheduling of cannabis as schedule I drug in the United States, law enforcement seem to be much more concerned about the effect of alcohol vs cannabis.

Reducing Disease…

There’s a long list of short-term and long-term health effects of alcohol.

Some of the immediate effects of alcohol are short-term effects include injuries, increased violence, alcohol poisoning, and embarrassing behavior per the CDC

Long-term health risks include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, digestive disease, liver disease, breast, mouth, throat, liver, colon (and more) cancer, weak immune system, memory problems, depression, anxiety, and alcohol dependence. 

On the other hand, while cannabis does cause side effects for some consumers, 42% of consumers in the United States are medical cannabis consumers.

Even those who don’t expressly report using cannabis for medicinal purposes, often consume to relax or unwind with additional people consuming cannabis for pain relief, without identifying as a medical cannabis patient.

Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 American deaths every single year. That’s 261 deaths a day. In addition to inflicting emotional pain on the loved ones of those who pass from excessive alcohol use, this is a leading cause of preventable death in this nation and cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010 alone. 

Stronger Social Relationships

Alcohol can ruin relationships. Not just romantic relationships, either.

The UB Research Institute on Addictions recently found that over the course of a nine year period, nearly 50% of couples who have different drinking patterns (one partner drinks heavily and the other doesn’t) end up divorced.

Excessive alcohol use can lead to aggression, domestic violence, mental health conditions, and more.

With that being said, there are people who improperly use cannabis and ruin their relationship as a consequence of consuming cannabis all day, however, the known negative impacts of cannabis are minuscule in comparison to alcohol. 

One study explored 634 couples over a nine year period, just like the alcohol study. The study found couples where both partners used cannabis frequently, there was less domestic violence than other couples. The same is true for men who frequently consume cannabis, they are less likely to be perpetrators of domestic violence. 

Cannabis encourages a sense of relaxation and even offers a chance for self-reflection, which could play a role in this study’s findings.

Our Take

Alcohol should not be banned, however, it’s nothing short of madness that we would allow adults to readily consume alcohol while restricting their access to cannabis.

By all objective standards, cannabis has been shown time & time again to be less harmful than alcohol, however, the current policies in place don’t reflect this.

If we would like to change this, then the onus is on the cannabis community to continue to educate the world on the bounty of benefits this plant offers.