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Alcohol Versus Marijuana: Is One Safer?




The ongoing debate over the comparative dangers of alcohol and marijuana has become increasingly prominent, fueled by new studies and the evolving landscape of laws legalizing the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. Despite varying opinions, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug, while alcohol is legally accessible for individuals aged 21 and older. Former President Obama, in a well-known New Yorker interview, expressed his belief that marijuana is not more dangerous than alcohol, igniting discussions on the subject. In this article, we explore both sides of the debate, leaving it to the readers to draw their conclusions.

Which Will Kill You Faster?

Alcohol, when consumed in moderation, is generally not life-threatening. However, excessive alcohol intake can lead to fatal consequences, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting nearly 88,000 alcohol-related overdose deaths annually. In stark contrast, marijuana-related deaths are nearly non-existent. A study revealed that a fatal dose of THC, the potent marijuana chemical, would require an individual to consume between 15 and 70 grams, equivalent to smoking an unrealistic number of joints in a single day.

What About Partner Violence?

Regarding the potential for harm, alcohol is implicated in higher rates of intimate partner violence compared to marijuana. Research indicates that couples using marijuana exhibit lower rates of intimate partner violence during the initial nine years of marriage. Surprisingly, men who use marijuana are found to be the least likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence against their spouses.

Dangers of Driving?

The discussion extends to the dangers of driving under the influence of substances. While driving under the influence of marijuana is safer than driving drunk, it still poses risks. Marijuana is a commonly detected substance in drivers involved in car accidents, increasing the odds of an accident by 83%. However, when alcohol is in the mix, the risk skyrockets by over 2,200%. The overall message emphasizes the inherent dangers of driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, especially when both are involved.

Learning and Memory?

Another facet of the debate revolves around the impact on learning and memory. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to memory impairments and blackouts, with over 50% of frequent binge drinkers reporting blackout episodes. Conversely, recent studies suggest that adolescents who smoke marijuana may face greater risks of learning and memory problems in the future. While the extent of marijuana's impact remains inconclusive, changes in the brain observed in such studies may elevate the risk of psychological difficulties later in life.

Is Any Safer For Pregnancy?

Pregnancy introduces additional concerns, as both alcohol and marijuana use during this period can have lasting effects on the child. Alcohol consumption, even in the early weeks of pregnancy, poses risks of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), resulting in physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. Similarly, studies hint at a potential link between marijuana use during pregnancy and low birth weight, though limited research clouds the full understanding of marijuana's effects during this crucial time.


In the ever-evolving discourse surrounding the safety of alcohol and marijuana, these considerations underscore the complexity of the issue. As both substances present their own set of risks and uncertainties, the ongoing debate encourages individuals to weigh the evidence and make informed decisions.


Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.