Many people compare marijuana and alcohol, especially now that more and more states are legalizing recreational use of marijuana. One of the points that many proponents for legal marijuana use espouse that it is less harmful than alcohol. However, alcohol has been made available in all 50 states for legal consumption since prohibition ended in 1933. It’s not quite that simple though, for example, a recent study found marijuana more damaging than alcohol.
Specifically, a study that was released in October revealed that marijuana use by teenagers resulted in long-lasting damage to their brains was worse than was the case for those who consumed alcohol instead. This was an especially troubling discovery considering teenagers’ brains are still developing and are more susceptible to the effects of marijuana than is the case for adults. However, people of every age should take note of the results of this study.
Patricia Conrod, the study’s lead author, told USA Today that they had “initially suspected alcohol would have a bigger effect” and were surprised by the results.
The researchers analyzed how much and in which ways alcohol and marijuana affected the teenagers’ abilities. They tested long-term memory, short-term memory manipulation, problem solving and the ability to change a behavior if doing so was wanted. Conrod revealed that marijuana significantly affected all four of those in a negative manner while no connection could be made between alcohol use and those cognitive functions. Also, the impact on those functions by those who had used marijuana continued even if marijuana use had ceased.
This study was undertaken by researchers from the University of Montreal. Those studied consisted of about 3,800 teenagers from dozens of schools who were around 13 years old at the beginning of the four-year study.
Also of note is that marijuana users included within this study were much more apt to be daily users than was the case for those who had consumed alcohol. An especially disconcerting point given that the results of studies like this show marijuana more damaging than alcohol.
Meanwhile, a study that was released in 2014 concluded that teenagers in Australia and New Zealand who used marijuana on a daily basis, were 60 percent less likely to complete high school and college as compared to those who didn’t. Their rate of attempted suicide was also seven times as high.
Marijuana Use Spreading Around California, U.S. and the World
But one statistic from the 2018 study was particularly troubling. Of those studied, about 28 percent revealed that they had used marijuana while 75 percent had consumed alcohol. This is a concern as more and more people around the world are using marijuana in increasing numbers as it starts to become legal in more locales.
In the United States, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana when Proposal 1 was passed in a vote that took place on Nov. 6. The states that had previously made this legal include Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. The District of Columbia has legalized its use within its borders as well.
Meanwhile, Canada legalized marijuana use for the entire country a month earlier. That made it the second worldwide to legalize it on a national level; Uruguay became the first in 2013. And, south of the border, Mexico’s interior secretary, Olga Sanchez Cordero, has, with the blessing of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the country’s incoming president, been pushing for her country to become the third.
Change is expected elsewhere in the world as well.
Although the Netherlands is famous amongst marijuana users for being home to coffee shops that are located in several of its cities and that sell marijuana, its use remains illegal in much of the country. Also, cultivating it is illegal everywhere in the Netherlands. However, that latter point may be changing soon as the Dutch government is looking to soon experiment with legally supplying the drug to coffee shops located in up to 10 cities.
Significant change already took place in South Africa in September. At that time, the country’s highest court ruled that marijuana use, both growing and consuming, by adults in private settings is now legal. However, it did remain illegal to sell or supply it.
Also, New Zealand may allow recreational use by 2020 as a national referendum is due to be voted upon there by then. That Canada has already legalized it has proven promising for those in New Zealand who want this to be passed as Canada and New Zealand have good relations with each other and are similar culturally.
Help For Marijuana Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to marijuana or any other substance, contact Ocean Hills Recovery for assistance. Drug addiction can tear you apart and you do not have to do this alone. Our caring staff will work alongside you to help combine evidence-based psychotherapy approaches with proven theories to create the most effective treatment experience for you. It’s time for you to being living a healthy, clean and sober life.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.