Throughout the past decade, the phrase “Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol” has become the official slogan for why the average stoner should damn well be able to appreciate the same freedom as those who enjoy a stiff drink. After all, pot is arguably less risky than the sauce Americans pour down their gullets during sporting events, weekends, or any other day where it becomes absolutely imperative to either celebrate the good times or drown out the bad. But no matter how tightly the bottle is woven into the puke-stained fabric of civil society, alcohol remains one of the most savage serial killers of any inebriating substance, legal or not.
The nation’s affinity for all things beer, wine, and spirits snuffs out roughly 95,000 diehard drinkers from ills such as liver failure and cancer every year. Meanwhile, the most horrendous consequence that the average cannabis fan might endure, at least as far as we can tell, is perhaps putting on a few extra pounds after stuffing their face with everything in the kitchen once the munchies kick in. But we digress. Considering what we know about both substances, the plant does appear to be a safer alternative to alcoholic beverages. A legion of advocates even claim that legalization may assist in pulling the great, slobbering drunkard out of the nation’s gutter of destitution and despair, ultimately putting them on the path of the straight and narrow.
Fast forward some years, and cannabis legalization for adults 21 and older has taken hold across more of the country. Yet, alcohol-related harms continue to increase. In Colorado, one of the first states to legalize the leaf in a manner similar to alcohol, booze continues to wreak havoc.
A recent study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) finds that alcohol-related deaths increased by nearly 30% in the Centennial State during 2020. Despite having the option of using cannabis as opposed to alcohol for the past eight years, Colorado residents are evidently still drinking themselves to death at alarming numbers. Liver disease, alcohol poisoning, unsafe behavior under the influence, mental health conditions, and alcohol-induced damage to other organs are turning up on coroner’s reports like wildfire. This uptick in booze-related death isn’t just happening in Colorado either. In other legal states, the statistics are similar. Overall, with or without pot, people are still drinking in excess and paying the price.
Nevertheless, some cannabis supporters still believe that legal weed could be a saving grace for an inebriated nation.