Reuters: Driven To Drink By Marijuana Laws?

Reuters columnist Bernd Debusmann ‘gets it.’
In a society awash in alcohol, he dares to ask the pivotal question:
Why do our laws embrace and celebrate the use of alcohol, an intoxicant that directly contributes to tens of thousands of deaths annually and countless social problems, while stigmatizing and criminalizing the use of cannabis, a substance that is incapable of causing lethal overdose and is associated with far fewer societal costs?

Driven to drink by marijuana laws?
via Reuters: The Great Debate
Tough marijuana laws are driving millions of Americans to a more dangerous mood-altering substance, alcohol. The unintended consequence: violence and thousands of unnecessary deaths. It’s time, therefore, for a serious public debate of the case for marijuana versus alcohol.
That’s the message groups advocating the legalization of marijuana are beginning to press, against a background of shifting attitudes which have already prompted 13 states to relax draconian laws dating back to the 1930s, when the government ended alcohol prohibition and began a determined but futile effort to stamp out marijuana.

Of course, I can’t help but blush when Bernd highlights my forthcoming book, Marijuana Is Safer, as the inspiration behind his astute analysis.

The case for adding a compare-and-contrast dimension to the debate is laid out in a statistics-laden book to be published next month entitled “Marijuana is Safer, So why are we driving people to drink?” The authors are prominent legalization advocates – Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Mason Tvert, co-founder of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation).
“The plain and simple truth is that alcohol fuels violent behaviour and marijuana does not,” Norm Stamper, [Editor’s note: Stamper is on NORML’s advisory board] a former Seattle police chief, writes in the foreword of the book. “Alcohol … contributes to literally millions of acts of violence in the United States each year. It is a major contributing factor to crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault and homicide. Marijuana use … is absent in that regard from both crime reports and the scientific literature. There is simply no causal link to be found.”

I’ll be providing folks with further information regarding Marijuana Is Safer in the coming days and weeks. (The book is expected to hit stores by mid-August). But for now, why not join the vibrant discussion taking place on Reuters.com on whether pot prohibition is driving America to drink?

0 thoughts

  1. Good gawd! Thats so obvious! I’d never drink another beer if I could smoke a bowl now and then. Can we pls get over this bullshit!!

  2. I went to reuters to find this story. Couldnt find it. Can anyone tell me where its located?

  3. We all know its safer its the gov tht dont know or they know n jus being assholes.(Cuz all the weed tht i smoke im still gonna do)

  4. The government does’nt care about the side effects of a pickled brain, just the tax revenue it generates.

  5. The fact that this is not common knowledge to all is weak. The fact that there is people younger than me (30) that still grow up fearing pot. Im a farm kid and i smoked pot to get back at my mom cuz i thought it was the worst. when i realized i got immeasurably sicker when i drank as opposed to wen i smoked tripped me out.

  6. I was pleased to see unicorporated Cook County (Chicago) decriminilize <10g ($200 fine now), but we have a long way to go. I just don’t think I can wait any longer though. Time to start saving my money I usually spend on those mind numbing liquid intoxicants, and start a very small grow…for my use only of course. If we all did this, life would be cheaper, safer, and better for us all! The wife can have fresh produce in the middle of winter, and I can have a little herb garden too! UNITE AND FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT!!!

  7. Re: Marijuana is Safer.
    It’s an interesting comparison, and one with merit.
    BUT! Stop f-ing comparing marijuana to alcohol and tobacco; it diminishes our cause. Most of us learned–at least conceptually–that two wrongs don’t make a right in elementary school. So, don’t lump it in w/ two obvious “wrongs”: alcohol and tobacco. Apples and oranges!
    Such a ridiculous argument to have as a focal point!

  8. Thank You Jesus!!!! I love when the truth wins!!!! Just more shit in the face of the reasons why Cannabis is not Legal yet. They need or desire a certain body count to keep funeral parlors full.

  9. – Drug-worriers, weed-agnostics, and anti-pot foes in general
    tend to label cannabis with scary-sounding descriptors
    such as ‘narcotic’, ‘hallucinogen’ to make it seem
    much worse than it actually is.
    I would classify cannabis as a ‘coffee-equivalent’ relaxant,
    (Having MUCH MILDER, less toxic, gentler
    sedative and dis-inhibitive action than alcohol).

    CH³CH²OH, (alcohol),
    is truly-scary by comparison.
    (Sadly, though, I still see mild, gentle cannabis made to seem
    scary by conflationary ‘association’…with alcohol or other hard-drugs).
    – Often, I hear ‘alarming’ news-reports, objectionist
    tabloid-talkshow rantings about someone’s marijuana smoking,
    ‘problems caused by someone’s pot-usasge’,
    only to find out that later, that alcohol / drunkeness was the
    PRIMARY causative-factor of that person’s destructive-exploits…
    🙄

  10. Sadly this is the truth… I have turned to alcohol because I didn’t want to get busted with pot… I know it’s probably not good for me, but I only drink when I’m already in a good mood, otherwise I get pissy. But the point is that I wish that weed was legal…

  11. Actually, I kill every time I’m under the influence of marijuana. Kill about 4 cans of soda and 2 bags of chips, that is =)

  12. This is so completely true when it comes to me, as well. I drink when I can’t find any weed, which lately has been a lot..I make better decisions when I’m on acid than when I’m drunk! I have many many friends who drink alot, simply because smoking a PLANT would get them fired. It is utter bullshit!

  13. has anyone thought of comparing water usage necessary to grow an average users six month supply vs the water needed for six months of beer or wine?
    much much less used for the average cannabis smoker vs alcohol moderate users NO DOUBT

  14. come out of the closet cannabis users!
    and get as many virgins stoned as possible, or at least argue with them the rational expediency of our NATIONAL PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE.
    YES WE CANNABIS!!!
    &HEMP 2!

  15. Too much alcohol will make you sick for at least another day after drinking hard. You can pass out from drinking too much. Alcohol has a lethal dosage.
    And yet, as dangerous as alcohol is, we still manage to survive with alcohol as a recreational drug. Nobody argues that alcohol is good for you. There are people out there who believe that alcohol is at the root of a lot of our problems. They tend to think everyone is an alcoholic. Alcohol can get you thrown in jail.
    Alcohol and its use and restrictions give us a lot of examples on how we should treat cannabis. You can brew your own beer and wine, but you can’t sell it without a special license to do so. And there is a tax too, I think. And don’t even think about trying to distill your own alcohol. There are people doing it outside of the law, but if the feds catch you for some reason, it will cost a lot of money and trouble. And if you want to distill commercially, that’s more work between you and the feds. There are limitations on how much alcohol you can have in distilled alcohol in some states. There are dry counties.
    These are all respectable limitations. Why can’t we suffer cannabis enough to allow it the freedom allowed alcohol? We saw what the prohibition of alcohol did, it created a corrupt society and this current prohibition of a simple plant is hurting us even more.

  16. I’m so fed up with reading about the drug war in mexico and how angery people are becuase they see the hypocracsy of our government leaders. Tired of seeing kids lives ruined cause they were busted . Sick of looking at the ugliness of the world. Can anyone direct me to the first ferry of this shit hole?

  17. That was a great article and I’m really looking forward to your book, Paul. Getting a copy once it comes out.
    I posted a comment at Reuters:
    Thank you, Bernd, for acknowledging some of the most hypocritical points of this War on Some Drugs. It is mind-boggling to me that people fall for the propaganda spilling from anti-cannabis legislators and organizations. They say cannabis is illegal because it’s “dangerous,” “addictive,” and can make an individual “lazy” or “stupid,” when we consume vast amounts of toxic, physically addictive substances on a daily basis, like ALCOHOL and PRESCRIPTION DRUGS and CAFFEINE and TOBACCO PRODUCTS. Come on people.
    There has never been a drug free society and there never will be. Once we accept that fact, we need to accept a few other FACTS: cannabis is medicinally valuable, it’s impossible to overdose, and it’s impossible to become physically addictive (psychologically with heavy use in a small amount of individuals, yes, but that doesn’t stop anyone from drinking coffee or popping Zoloft, which causes SUICIDAL thoughts/actions in a small amount of individuals).
    I know this because I know how to use Google and how to use my local library. Anyone can find dozens, if not hundreds, of independent peer-reviewed studies to back these statements up.
    I am so TIRED of the misinformation, scare tactics, and downright bullying Drug War proponents smear all over our political and social landscape. I am appalled that many legislators and organizations, including the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (funded by tobacco companies by the way) and the ONDCP themselves, look right into cameras and LIE to the citizens they are supposed to be SERVING. It is insulting in the worst way. They don’t care about our health, otherwise alcohol, caffeine, tobacco products, and the majority of prescription drugs would be illegal and health care would be considered a human right. They don’t care about the children, otherwise they would rail at the failure of No Child Left Behind and the gutting of social services that many families depend on.
    Most importantly, if they cared about the children in this country they would take cannabis out of the hands of drug dealers who do not check ID and who are often selling more than just cannabis. Leaving a product unregulated makes it EASIER for ANYONE to acquire, especially our children. Alcohol is far more difficult for minors in this country to acquire than cannabis, because alcohol is REGULATED. Of course kids still drink, but a six-pack is harder to get than a dime bag. You can Google that statement too people, because I read it in an independent study. And I know from personal experience – I was a teenager not that long ago (I am twenty-two years old), and a dime bag was always much easier to acquire for me or any of my peers. And that should not have been the case because I was a minor.
    I am just so sick of the propaganda and the hypocrisy. I am beyond insulted every time I think about it.

    Yeah, I was a little worked up, haha. And now I’m off to write an angry e-mail to our new Drug Czar while I’m on a roll…

  18. alcohol has ruined my childhood family life and had even caused death.i vowed not to turn in that direction and still will not even though my job says i cannot smoke herb by testing me on a regular basis. i miss the herb and cant wiat till this is all over with.thanks norml for all that you continue to do in the face of what is right.

  19. #16 Beckah Says:
    July 24th, 2009 at 10:30 pm
    “…I make better decisions when
    I’m on acid than when I’m drunk!”
    RE:
    – Not surpising, Beckah.
    Acid and alcohol are polar-opposites!
    – If the truth be known, even ordinary,
    waking-conciousness is SLEEPWALKING by comparison…

  20. “Re: Marijuana is Safer.
    It’s an interesting comparison, and one with merit.
    BUT! Stop f-ing comparing marijuana to alcohol and tobacco; it diminishes our cause. Most of us learned–at least conceptually–that two wrongs don’t make a right in elementary school. So, don’t lump it in w/ two obvious “wrongs”: alcohol and tobacco. Apples and oranges!
    Such a ridiculous argument to have as a focal point!”
    Let me respond to this with some truth about myself.
    I was so drunk (hadn’t smoked pot for 2.5 yrs at the time) I walked straight off a 2 story shop. I’m lucky to have escaped that with 1 minor injury.
    I smoke medical pot now. Since I started smoking again my life did a 180. I met the love of my life (who does not use pot) I reconnected with friends. I am legally blind. I am really skittish around others, especially when they spew nonsense. Pot helps glaucoma/anxiety. They would have to burn my brain 1984-style to make me ever accept the status quo: A pro-alcohol, pro-tobacco, anti-pot America.
    How is the pot vs alcohol so ridiculous to have as a focal point when it pretty much sums up the major hypocrisy that is our drug policy??? How is it such a ridiculous argument when we can so easily compare the side effects of alcohol vs. marijuana prohibition?
    Peace

  21. In my work, I’ll taker take a compliant Pot Head over a ASS HOLE drunk any day. Pot heads are controlled with Cheetos, drunks are controlled with force.

  22. i quit smoking a while ago. i’ve been waiting for marijuana to be legalized here. in the meantime i’ve been drinking.
    my liver has tested to already be hurt quite a bit… puking all the time, waking up with migrains. fell over drunk and broke my nose. got alcohol poisoning once. totaled a car… just no good.
    i hope they legalize it quick, or i’ll most likely die from alcohol somehow. so many close calls already, all in about 1 or 2 year’s time. war on drugs is a war on me. they’ll have me dead soon.

  23. Just wanted to add that it’s pretty amazing how stupid alcohol can make somebody (like making me think rooftops were safe for someone who can’t see for ****)
    The only side effect of my pot usage is being really annoyed that people think of me as garbage.

  24. War on (some) drugs replaced slavery after the north won the Civil war and outlawed it.
    1865-: north wins civil war, outlaws slavery
    1866-1900: Various racist politicians pass ‘grandfather clauses’ which prevent newly freed slaves from actually voting
    @1901: grandfather clauses struck down as unconstitutional
    Read tinyurl.com/1mn
    “It wasn’t hostility to the drug, it was hostility to the newly arrived Mexican community that used it.

  25. Because, Matt Buompensiero, comparing marijuana and alcohol is like comparing rat poison (alcohol) and a harmless vegtable…let’s say, a carrot.
    I am not diminishing the miraculous benefits of marijuana–as a patient, I’d not do such a thing.
    I am suggesting that we’ve move beyond this absurd comparison, because it only damages our cause.
    When the debate comes–and people start citing how it’s comparable to alcohol or tobacco–then let’s redirect them so that marijuana is not categorized as something even remotely similar to those poisons!
    Because, it’s not! It’s not at all the same!

  26. I am so glad this is being discussed because that’s exactly how I feel. Before the company I work for was bought out by a large company, random drug tests were unheard of, so I am staying away from weed. I really hate it because I’m starting to drink a lot more.

  27. bag of weed or a bottle of wine? hmm
    i find everything about marijuana much more enjoyable than i do alcohol.
    its just unfortunate that my safe and responsible choice has led to my arrest, TWICE. its the biggest scam in our nation. we all keep asking the same questions and we keep getting the same answers. we deserve truth and to have laws that protect not incriminate the average american.
    my 2 sense.

  28. The beer guys have been trying to get sativa into their product. What’s up with that?

  29. #32, Anonymous, Cannabis and hops, also known as Humulus are both of the same family of plants Cannabaceae. Hops also has a female and male plant and it is the female flower that is used in beer. Hops also has a known sedative quality. You can smoke hops for the sedative effect. It is only natural that Cannabis be a candidate for “bittering” beer. Although I can’t imagine the flavor of Cannabis in beer can compare with hops.

  30. #32 Anonymous Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 8:34 am
    The beer guys have been trying
    to get sativa into their product.
    What’s up with that?
    RE: Flavoring:
    – Cannabis is botanically-related to hops,
    though
    hops are bitter,
    whereas
    cannabis is sweet.

  31. PROHIBITONISTS ADD CANNABIS TO THEIR HIT LIST
    While we cannabis advocates bash the hell out of alcohol and tobacco, do we stop to think that “SO DO PROHIBITIONISTS.” They’re even more serious about bashing alcohol aand tobacco than we are. It kind of makes me feel sorry for the alcohol and tobacco guys
    …but then…I regain my conception of reality and realize that although the prohibs are correct in their science, they’re absolutely incorrect in their ideology.
    So you see…prohibitionists are just plain “anti-anything” that provides someone else pleasure. Maybe it’s jealousy, and they just don’t want anyone to have pleasure if they don’t/can’t. Whatever the case may be, alcohol, tobacco,and cannabis have a common enemy. Let us direct all of our attention towards those who deserve it most…the prohibitionists. Let us reduce prohibitionists to a squeeky toy, or a rubber duckie, so they can blow tiny little bubbles out their ass when we squeeze them.

  32. Pot laws or no pot laws, I smoke pot.I obey my doctors orders not to drink alcohol.I have no problem with that although a good cold beer is good once in a while but I do prefer smoking pot.And at my age,(50+)sorry folks but no longer can wait for pot decrim or legaliz
    laws.Lawmakers should realize too that time flies quickly and some people cant wait forever for tangible changes.

  33. WILL EVERYBODY PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, GET IT IN THEIR HEADS…IT’S NOT A MATTER OF POT. IT’S A MATTER OF FREEDOM. IF YOU THINK, FOR A NEW YORK MINUTE, THAT YOU’RE RUNNNING THE SHOW IN WASHINGTON, EVEN WITH YOUR VOTE…TAKE ANOTHER TOKE. WE THE PEOPLE, NEED TO SHOW OUR POWER. IF YOU KNOW HOW TO DO THAT…TELL US. IF NOT…YOUR 2 CENTS IS EXACTLY WHAT 2 CENTS IS WORTH TODAY. IT’S WORTH NOTHING. IF WE ARE GOING TO BE A BEAR, LET’S BE A GRIZZLY! OTHERWISE, SEE WHAT YOU GET BEING A TEDDY BEAR. TALK’S CHEAP.

  34. “It is because people drink “to have fun” but they smoke marijuana “to get high.””
    Richard Nixon

  35. Reclassifying Drugs
    Not reschedule but completely change the classifications of drugs. Currently we have Schedule 1 – 5 drugs. This system does not give an adequate difference between all the drugs that are out there. I think the classifications should also be numbered 1 – 1000. This will give adequate separation between drugs and leave room for future drugs. IE I would place Heroin and Meth around 900 just because their will probably be something worse.
    Mental Addiction 1 – 1000
    The Habit or Routine IE I quit smoking for 2 weeks. (Over 7 months now) I got in my car for the first time. After about a mile I started wondering why is it so cold? Out of habit, I rolled down my window for my cigarette. This isn’t even the worst part. I am just trying to paint a picture of just the habit of lighting a cigarette when you don’t even really want one.
    Physical Addiction 1 – 1000
    IE Many drugs the Physical Addiction can be so strong if you quit cold turkey you will need medical assistance. If you do not have medical assistance, you could die from trying to quit.
    Social Addiction 1 – 1000
    IE Meth Dealing or Cooking. A 50-year-old overweight man can sleep with 18-year-old strippers. How do you convince them to be normal again?
    IE People surround themselves with people who do that drug. If that drug is socially acceptable like alcohol, you see it everywhere. Every time you go out on a first date, you’re invited out for drinks. Or even better invited in for drinks. Changing your friends your lifestyle. All of these things are very difficult. The worst part is it isn’t a choice you make one day. You need to make that choice every day, every hour, every minute and every second. One brief instant a lapse in judgment can destroy years of work.
    Health Risks 1 – 1000
    IE Effects of short and long term usage to the body. Developing a number system for adverse effects on the body.
    Overall 1 – 4000
    And of course education! Mandatory volunteer work in emergency rooms and detox centers. Faces of meth should be posted everywhere to the point of us being sick of them. We should also do the same type of program for all drugs that change your appearance. This system leaves no doubt. With this knowledge, you now have a much clearer picture of what you are doing. I essentially grew up with this knowledge. I saw the worst-case scenario of every drug in my early teen years.

  36. 40 This is not really my name.
    The answer you are looking for is that cannabis, the substance, must be “DEFINED.”

  37. #35 Anonymous Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 6:45 pm
    PROHIBITONISTS ADD CANNABIS TO THEIR HIT LIST
    ….Whatever the case may be, alcohol, tobacco,and cannabis have a common enemy. Let us direct all of our attention towards those who deserve it most…the prohibitionists. Let us reduce prohibitionists to a squeeky toy, or a rubber duckie, so they can blow tiny little bubbles out their ass when we squeeze them.
    RE:
    From what I understand about the 1930’s:
    – Sore about the repeal of the 18th Amendment,
    Prohibitionist Anslinger took the worst-case hazardous-effects of alcohol,
    falsely re-attributed these to cannabis, and called it Reefer-Madness.

  38. The dichotomy exists for many reasons,and always politically and socially implicative. One salient reason that stands scrutiny may lie in the manner that alcohol-socially acceptable-and marijuana-yet stigmatized and stigmatizing-are insinuated into a culture’s ceremonial chemistry (straight from Szasz’s eponimous title).

  39. It would be rediculous to make alcohol illegal and pot legal. I have no problem legalizing weed, but to outlaw another substance is complete hypocrisy. Thats the vibe i get from this article.

  40. This article is 100% true, and I am an example.
    Due to the poor economy the company I was working for went under, I got laid off. I’ve been on unemployment for a few months, simply just cant find anything to pay me near what I was making.
    Of course since employers test for oh so dangerous illegal marijuana plant, the only intoxicant I can use is alcohol. I’ve never been a drinker, never really liked alcohol, but have started to “learn to like it” due to the fact that I cant smoke it right now.
    I despise my government for promoting poison over safety.

  41. #45 Davis From VA Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 1:17 am
    “This article is 100% true, and I am an example.
    Due to the poor economy the company I was working for went under,
    I got laid off. I’ve been on unemployment for a few months,
    simply just cant find anything to pay me near what I was making.
    Of course since employers test for
    oh so dangerous illegal marijuana plant,
    the only intoxicant I can use is alcohol.
    I’ve never been a drinker, never really liked alcohol,
    but have started to “learn to like it” due to the fact that I cant smoke it right now.
    I despise my government for promoting poison over safety.”
    RE: Davis,
    – If at all possible, refuse / bypass / boycott potential-employers
    who test for ancient, inactive-metabolites of the unjustly-maligned herb…
    (As a matter of principle, even if you would
    ‘pass’ / test ‘negative’ anyway…FUCK ‘EM!!!). 😈
    Check out the Russ Belville’s views on the topic at
    NORML Daily Audio Stash:
    Working Spliffs
    And also NORML
    Drug-Testing Tips
    – For those of us whom alcohol is easily,
    and / or potentially, a far worse instigator
    of serious health and behavior-problems
    than pot could ever aspire to be,
    it’s STILL possible to pass their
    idiotic ‘drug-screens’, YET sadly,
    lose employ ANYWAY, directly-attributable
    to the greater deleteriousness and toxicity
    of alcohol itself, ESPECIALLY for one who
    “never really liked alcohol”,
    and / or has to “learn to like it”…

    FYI:
    – Cannabis is an exogenous-source of
    endogenous-cannabinoids,
    (for replenishing the human body’s endocannabinoid-system),
    so how can these, rightly, be considered a
    ‘foreign-substance’ / ‘foreign-chemical’,
    (As I’ve so often heard mentioned as
    the central-diatribe of misguided pot-foes),
    when, in fact, they’re INTEGRAL to our well-being ???

  42. I agree and would gladly cut my drinking down by 85% if it were okay to smoke. Since I’m one of thousands of Americans looking for work, needing to be ready to pass a drug test is a must. So I find myself drinking more now that I don’t/can’t smoke. It is also a fact for me I can smoke for years and stop anytime anyday with no BS side effects or medical help to “come off the drug”…LOL
    It’s a too bad lies are fed like garlic fries.
    Also, why not tax pot in Cali.?? 1.7 billion dollars!?
    We’re so hurting for money and cutting funds every where. Why not tax it and even gain better control on who sells it?
    Strange….

  43. # amute Says:
    July 29th, 2009 at 1:27 pm
    “…Since I’m one of thousands of
    Americans looking for work,
    needing to be ready to pass a drug test is a must.”
    RE: amute,
    If required to take a drug-test,
    only comply with a written, multiple-choice version,
    and / or
    a saliva test, which only indicates
    presence of ancient, inactive, maligned-botanical’s
    metabolites,
    for,
    at most, the last 72 hours…

    Cannabinoids PROMOTE NEUROGENESIS, and vice-versa!!!
    BBCode is the GATEWAY to HTML, Javascript and Klingon…
    (NOTE: This comment-post was HAND-CODED,
    without use of web-dev “helper-applications”).

  44. What have I done drunk????
    Woke up in my car at 5am not knowing where the hell I was and peed myself. So lovely.
    What I do stoned???
    Eat sleep and have awsome mind blowing sex, and I remember it all!!! Rockin!!!!

  45. How can u compare the 2 it is like comparing heaven to hell,marijane being heaven and the man made devil juice being hell.

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