Tobacco-Related Health Costs: $800; Booze-Related Health Costs: $165; Pot-Related Health Costs: $20 — Any Questions?

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.] Health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers, according to a report published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal.
According to the report, “In terms of [health-related] costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.”
The review, authored by researchers from the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia at the University of Victoria and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse at the University of Ottawa, stated: “Alcohol is used by a very large number of people with the vast majority of these using in low- or moderate-risk ways. Conversely, cannabis and tobacco are used by far fewer people. The majority of cannabis use is low- and moderate-risk, however, while the majority of tobacco is high-risk.”
The study reported that social costs applicable to marijuana are primarily “enforcement-related.”
The authors concluded: “The harms, risks and social costs of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco vary greatly. A lot has to do with how the substances are handled legally. Alcohol and tobacco are legal substances, which explains their low enforcement costs relative to cannabis. On the other hand, the health costs per user of tobacco and alcohol are much higher than for cannabis. This may indicate that cannabis use involves fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco.
“These variations in risk, harms and cost need to be taken into account as we think about further efforts to deal with the use of these three substances. … Efforts to reduce social costs related to cannabis, for example, will likely involve shifting its legal status by decriminalizing casual use, to reduce the high enforcement costs. Such a shift may be warranted given the apparent lower health risk associated with most cannabis use.”
According to a recent Rasmussen national poll of 1,000 likely voters, Americans believe by more than two to one that alcohol is “more dangerous” than marijuana.

0 thoughts

  1. “This may indicate that cannabis use involves fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco.”
    Well no shit Sherlocks! …”this may indicate” [head pounding on brick wall]
    Can’t they just f==king admit it openly without the tap dance?
    Okay, good report for our cause but JFC!

  2. I knew it would be the bean counters who would bring the world back to reality.
    It was the bean counters back in the 16th century who led society in accepting the Copernican model of the solar system, where the earth revolves around the sun, instead of the other way around, as was asserted by the Church.
    Galileo was given a life sentence of house arrest and nearly given the death penalty because he challenged the Church on this issue.
    But you know the old saying: money talks and BS walks. This was how Galileo won the war even while he lost his own personal battle.
    The European economy at the time was heavily dependent on shipping. It mattered a great deal to these people whether their tide tables were accurate. The tide tables computed using the Copernican system proved themselves to be far more accurate than the tide tables produced using the Church-favored geocentric picture of the universe.
    So the European business community came to disregard Christian geocentric cosmology as bad for business and embraced the new scientific model of the universe proposed by Copernicus and poor Galileo.
    It’s going to be the same in our movement. Prohibitionist propaganda has been able to dominate the media, but it doesn’t have the power to alter economic reality.
    The bean counters measure economic reality, which cannot be disconnected from physical reality.

  3. Ok….this is getting stupid. I mean, it’s always been stupid, but keeping marijuana illegal now tops the charts as the all-time dumbest move ever.

  4. Arent Alchohol & Tobacco both by definition Schedual I drugs?? Meaning they have no medically accepted value with a high risk for abuse.(Even though the Controlled Substances Act doesnt even define “Abuse”)

  5. Chalk another one up for our side! Sadlt though those in opposition will either ignore this (as with all the other positive research) or claim that it comes from flawed or misconstrued data. It’s really hard to get past generations of brain-washing but that is what we are up against. Plus the fact that our politicians are usually more interested in getting re-elected than doing the next right thing. Even the ones who claim to believe the truth have “more important issues to deal with” to have their reputations tarnished over this nobel cause. While I still maintain hope that this injustice will someday be righted I really don’t believe I personally will be able to legally burn for the pleasure of it here in the good ole US of A in my lifetime. I hope to be proven wrong but I think we all know that I only hold my breath for one thing.;)

  6. It’s just such a shame that everyone knows these facts. The people who make the rules know them, but they just don’t want to acknowledge it as truth. Like everyone else, it still amazes me when politicians and even health care specialists stare these facts in the face and deny them.

  7. Now this story is a perfect example of what we can take to lawmakers to fight for cannabis reform. It illustrates just how harmless cannabis is and makes a good case for personal use reform and health care reform.
    With this info and the announcement by the AMA calling for the reclassification of cannabis, it time to start pushing the lawmakers for action in this matter. Many of you send emails, I ask you now to take a moment and make a phone call to them.

  8. …………and Pharmacies like ” Longs Drugs ” ( now called CVS ) in California sell & even push alcoholic beverages and why other Drug stores sell cigarettes . = So you’ll need prescription medications or drugs . These Pharmacies make lots of money off of Pharamaceuticals compared to what little they make from selling Alcoholic beverages or cigarettes .
    In , Eureka , California there is a Pharmacy
    called ” Cloney’s ” and directly behind the main counter they sell a Drug testing Kit ( or at least they used to ) specifically designed & used for the testing of marijuana . You’ll find most drug stores sell Drug testing Kits that they invented to deceive everyone .They do this so you’ll take hard drugs such as alcoholic beverages & cigarettes instead of you using cannabis . They cannot make money if you use cannabis because it is not a damaging drug .
    ” and Satan the Great Devil has deceived the whole World ”
    ……………After some thought & consideration it is not fair to boycott KGO Radio because of what one talk show host
    ( Gene Burns – who hides from the truth ) does since most people there undoubtedly support the use of marijuana . This Radio station reaches small Towns in Alaska all the way down to the deserts in
    Mexico . However , that doesn’t mean we can’t stop the Drug pusher , Gene Burns from pushing alcohol so , your calls to him and KGO Radio are still encouraged . Please be nice , courteous and Polite when speaking to anyone there never making threats or doing any name calling .Your support is needed & encouraged .
    We will win by telling the TRUTH .
    The Truth Doctor

  9. “Enforcement related”… I for one am sick of responsible, hard-working people being made to look like criminals and having their careers ruined for choosing a safer alternative to unwind from a hard days work, or medicating how they choose.
    It makes me sad to think how the people we choose to represent us consistently ignore these types of reports, and insist against popular opinion that marijuana is a dangerous drug. How are we supposed to trust them with our economic and political futures, when we are lied to about something that is so obvious.

  10. “On the other hand, the health costs per user of tobacco and alcohol are much higher for cannabis.”
    Does this mean to say “…health costs per user of tobacco and alcohol are much higher THAN for cannabis.”?
    I’m not a grammar Nazi, but just noticed that the phrasing here actually conveys the opposite meaning. I was a little disappointed to see alcohol and tobacco compared positively to cannabis on the NORML blog 🙂
    [Paul Armentano responds: You are correct. There was a typo. It’s now been corrected. Thanks for the heads-up.]

  11. site after site i read the comments left on articles pertaining to marijuana with the majority of comments in support of legalization. where are we when its time to vote?

  12. “The bean counters measure economic reality, which cannot be disconnected from physical reality.”
    How true,and now the bean counters are starting to get the picture on the monies spent trying to stop marijuana
    and the failure to do so. At what point will our government bean counters figure out it just isn’t working,as more and more citizens ask for an accounting of the dollars they are spending on failed and obsolete
    Keep the pressure up,turn it on. Contact your legislators when they are going to follow the science
    and quit supporting the wasting of billions of our tax dollars. Anyone that has a legislator that is a member of the House Ways and Means committee really needs to step up the pressure on this one. They are the bean counters and are the ones that approve of the ONDCP
    budget. And probably the ones that will end this insanity.

  13. Holy Smokes. If you have not read the book “Marijuana is SAFER” get it and read it. Use a HIGH-lighter and mark the words and phrases you feel are important to share with others. Use this book as a revolution-handbook. You will be glad you did, and, so will your mother.
    The Universal Life Chirch of the Holy Smokes
    Potland, OR

  14. UHmmmm,…..I would think Alcohal and Ciggi’s(tobacco) are listed as schedule 3…..since you do not NEED a presciption to purchase either one of the 2 substances.
    Tobacco med value— Unless you are trying to ward off some Disease-infested Mosquitos at a campfire with the ciggi smoke…, no med value.
    Alcohal med value— If you find yourself up sh!t creek(w/out a paddle), Hard alcohal can serve as a crude form by which to clean fresh wounds( PLEASE do not confuse this as an excuse to start storing the mini versions of Grey Goose in your firstAID kit).
    Cannabis med value—the plant LITERALLY resinates with “it”(medical value). The health-risks related to Cannabis use(even heavy users) is miniscule compared to health-risks related to regular or heavy use of either one of the first two substances I mentioned.
    I, for ONE(of many I’m sure) am SICK and TIRED of being PUNISHED by means of PROHIBITION just because some one else’s Parents did not teach them how to act responsibly.
    As my Mother told me( I was 18) when she handed me my first bag of weed: “Adult habits, adult responsibilities.” Which I equated as: If you Handle your “sh!t” responsibly; then you shouldn’t have “it”(cannabis in this case) taken away or be punished for using it.
    …………….BUT, what do I know.? I’m just one of the many opinions that make up the greater body which has been referred to as “the Peaple”.

  15. These and similar facts are of significance only to logical people, not prohibitionists waging a failed, irrational war of choice on consumers of some substances. The bottom line of their thinking is, “just because,” and that is hard to refute with facts and logic. Prohibitionist can not even face the obvious fact that they are in direct violation of God’s will for people to live in freedom with liberty as acknowledged and cited in the Constitution of the United States. Go figure, “just because.”

  16. Politicians respond to issues in a way that they believe is in keeping with the majority, so as to not lose any votes. That’s why it’s so important for us pot heads to continue to be vocal and make ourselves known. The day will come when we reach that tipping point, and it’s not far off. We could conceivably reach that tipping point within the first 6 months of the new year if we keep up the pressure. Right now almost half are in favor of all out legalization, according to a mainstream poll, that’s huge. The more we are able to educate people on what pot is and what it isn’t, the more people will lose their irrational fear of this gentle substance and, if they don’t want to smoke it themselves, will at least be more understanding of those of us who do.
    I, too, am getting sick and f******* tired of the stereotypes and misinformation circulating about this. I read one blog on a mental health website where the social worker was saying all kinds of crap about smoke enough and you can hallucinate (if there is any weed that strong send it my way!) and was rehashing the gateway theory and the schizophrenia theory all over again.
    I’m sick of the big witch hunt out there for pot smokers and I’m just waiting for the day to arrive when they start doing random stops and saliva testing drivers. that is the day I get rid of my car and take up hitchhiking again, or move to another country!
    This country ain’t big enough for me and Big Brotha!

  17. bout time !!! i thought this was official a long time ago,not shit weed is safer,and safer ! MAKE IT LEGAL !

  18. to samson im saying that if the FDA were to demand evidence that Alchohol or Tobacco were safe for users (like they are currently doing with caffinated-alchohol drinks) within 30 days, that niether the makers of alchohol nor tobacco farmers would be able to do so, and ALL these products would be considered a Schedual I substance right along with good ole Cannabis!!

  19. TODAYS PROFILE IN COURAGE, as reported in the ARKANSAS TIMES Now, decisions to lock up drug users are getting more scrutiny. Sen. Bill Pritchard of Elkins, the Senate minority whip.
    Pritchard, a self-described “conservative Republican,” also reminded the group that Arkansas law makes the second offense for simple possession of marijuana a felony. He thinks it’s time to change that too, though he admitted that a bill he introduced last session to make marijuana possession a felony only after the fourth arrest, so that it “mirrored” the state’s felony DWI law, was the “baddest-beat bill of the session.”

  20. Fire weed #21, ya its getting to the place where I feel theres not enough room for big bro and me also.
    Heres something I want you all to consider.
    Our government is very good at wasting money. Drug war,medicaid,medicare,postoffice,millitary(No I’m not disparaging our troops),education..ect ect ect. Driving us into perpetual debt. Now if your spouse were to do this,via credit cards, there would be hell to raise if not divorce! The drug war is one of those perpetual debts!
    Why are we not’Divorcing’ our government/leaders?
    Dont you think its time for that talk?
    We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816
    I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

  21. It’s to replace outlawed slave labor with prison labor. Read :
    Well, there it was, you didn’t have to look another foot as you went from state to state right on the floor of the state legislature. And so what was the genesis for the early state marijuana laws in the Rocky Mountain and southwestern areas of this country? It wasn’t hostility to the drug, it was hostility to the newly arrived Mexican community that used it.

  22. I would be interesting to see how insurance companies rate the costs (to themselves) of each type of substance we humans imbibe.

  23. It’s funny because with most prescription drugs the biggest danger is from a possible overdose, but with prescription marijuana the biggest danger was from law enforcement. Now that same danger is the only threat to recreational users.

  24. California = 21 billion in the hole . Instead of Statewide legalization , regulating and taxing Cannabis we still spend millions attempting to snuff out Marijuana .
    When will they get it ?

  25. 30 + years of smoking the Reefer and no Major medical problems.,or minor ones ,come to think of it. Regulate

  26. We the people have been abused, used, and lied to by our wayward government. I was hoping that history would not need to repeat but the uneducatable men running our government, printing money, and selling our jobs overseas just will not learn. Like a mad dog sometimes you just have to put it down. Jury Nullification is the only way to avoid putting the wayward mad dog down by force. But then you know history. I will be at my liberty because it lies in my heart and not on paper.


  28. Alcohol and Tobacco are not even considered a drug by our government. In order for something to be a drug, the main criteria it has to meet is that it is in the US Pharmacopeia. After much lobbying by alcohol and tobacco companies, you wont find alcohol or tobacco in the US pharmacopeia. Even though technically these are considered psychoactive drugs, our government does not see it this way.

  29. This has been known for some time now…People have been stating this for years and no one has ever listened to the facts. Maybe this will finally get the ball rollin.

  30. I just heard on the news that being over weight will quadruple our health care cost over the next few years. If keeping cannabis illegal is due to concern for public safety then shouldn’t the government make over eating a crime? Being grossly over weight causes all kinds of terrible side effects like diabetes ,heart disease, high blood pressure and on and on. It is now the number one killer in America. Cannabis has never killed anyone.
    I must admit cannabis has caused me to eat more than I should have a few times, you know about the dreaded hash munchies don’t you?

  31. Meep. has links to videos and other info resources regarding cannabis facts and statistics. Let others know about it: friends, family and especially potential medical patients. A year ago I didn’t know cannabis could help me medically, and millions in MMJ states are equally unaware.

  32. !!!WAKE UP AMERICA!!!
    Recently I lost my job of eight years (due to the lack of freedom of expression) nothing
    degrading or racial just standing up for my self after being called names & degraded in front of coworkers and a site inspector by a supervisor. Any way I’ve been web surfing since I have some time in between trying to find a new job (almost impossible now days). I see that president Obama’s in china talking about human rights & the benefits of individual freedoms such as expression, worship and access to information and holding their government accountable for their actions. Blah blah blah bullsiht !!! Seems a little
    hypocritical to me seeing as since the beginning of the USA our government has been changing the constitution and taking our FREEDOMS & RIGHTS that our fore fathers fought and died for & our sons, daughters, mothers & fathers are still fighting & dying for. Every day we loose more and more. Of our right to privacy our freedom of choice & speech. Cameras on the corner and in dressing rooms fines or jail for being naked or having sex in our own homes cause some one looked thru our window or being fired for saying “you cant call me that I’d like an apology”. Or a 2000% tax increase on tobacco along with bans on public smoking inside or out with large fines if caught all designed to stop you from smoking .And my personal favorite the war on drugs (marijuana) which by the way was started by one of the biggest governmental crooks in history. For over forty years the government has waged this war against the american public which has cost billons of dollars and ruined millions of lives of non violent people in the pursuit of their own happiness. We should have a choice of what goes into our bodies. But our government feels that’s up to them as well as how much money will come out of our pockets (billions) this year and the year after and the year after and so on and so on and where does that money go? To pay their salaries’ (task force officers & rehab owners & employees) and to arrest more non violent pot smokers to keep them in business. While murderers, rapist & child molesters spend little or no time in jail are not caught or released due to over crowding of the jails and the lack of funding while some one who smokes(771.782 so far this year)will spend months,or years in jail and in some cases will be sentenced to death
    (Marijuana users may not be eligible for life saving organ transplants) for nothing more than possessing a natural non harmful and as people,scientist and doctors are now admitting beneficial plant. Not only is it beneficial in the treatment of many illnesses but also as a way of saving many of our natural recourses by its use as a fuel, clothing, food & many other things. While others are creating pills in the lab and calling them medication which either doesn’t work or in most cases cause a number of harmful side effects which they design more pills for which causes more side effects …. Which keeps them in business WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!
    DRUG TESTING—(money maker) and the biggest invasion of privacy pre-employment and random’s rarely test for alcohol (perhaps the most dangerous & costly drug to the individual &society) ,pcp,lsd,or cocaine, and mainly test for thc because unlike the other which are out of your system in a few hours or maybe days thc can be found for weeks and even months after use. (Cha ching) Thousands of dollars for forced rehab (which dose not work) and months of residual income from random monthly test( 2 times a month for 60 months or length of probation even for non drug related offences) What’s next cameras in your car, your house.What about drug testing for anyone who gets a drivers license or insurance. What then will you stand up and speak out? Oh wait a minute you cant because by then your freedom of speech will be completely gone. Want to see the future check out George Orwell’s 1984
    (2009 word of the year unfriend) 1st step towards the unperson . WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!! And start holding your government accountable. Stop the injustice the bankrupting and killing of our country
    How many more freedoms &, rights are you going to let them take from you. How much more privacy are you going to give up. How much more of your money are you going to let them throw away before you wake up

  33. Dr. Dean Edell of KGO Radio ( San Francisco ) who has spent a lifetime in medicine repeatedly says marijuana is fine & in fact has said many good things about
    it .
    Their are others , too .
    I don’t believe anyone with the vast amount of knowledge as this brilliant Doctor has could anyone not consume Cannabis . If he does he is afraid of this Country to say that he uses marijuana . We are no longer a nation of God “. Our freedoms,our liberties and the term ” Justice for all has vanished “.
    We must go back to the basic principals of God .
    We don’t know if that was , General Jake posting . They could have put him in jail and someone else may be posting for him . This is how bad it has been become in this World . They deny the truth & the basic fundamentals of God . They use deception to decieve you & worship lies . They choose the side of Satan with his powerful tools of deception and yet , we tell the TRUTH and they hide from the truth because of their lust and greed of money & power over the World .” and their fine clothes made of silk ”
    ” and the Great Satan known as the Devil the master of deception has again deceived the whole World ”
    We must all go back to the principals God set down for humanity if we are to survive.
    NORML has given me freedom to speak without censorship that this Country was founded on .
    May God bless , The Truth Doctor

  34. Re; # 9
    Through the selling of alcoholic beverages ,
    tobacco and with the help of the Drug testing Kit the Pharmacies are again deceiving you the public . Take these drugs they say ,drink of the blood of the lamb so you’ll buy our pharamacuticals ,our prescriptions ,our medications and our drugs .

  35. This is the message I sent Jame Swift.
    The following message is intended for James Swift, the author of the article “Actually, don’t legalize it.”
    I have to say, for how well your article is written, you make a lot of false assumptions. Not only false assumptions, but flat out lies with no scientific backing.
    The first false assumption: “Marijuana activists say it’s harmless”
    False. I don’t think marijuana is harmless. However, it is much less harmful than any other “drug”, legal or illegal.
    The harm with marijuana is really the money. The money is what creates violence and problems for society. The money that can be made from marijuana is a direct result of our prohibition laws that don’t actually stop anyone from using it. Our laws just force the price of marijuana up because of the risk associated with transporting and selling it. It’s simply supply and demand James. And in black markets, suppliers control price. They also don’t ask for ID’s. So I hope you have kids in the future, and if marijuana is still illegal. I hope they get arrested and or addicted to the shit. I hope you learn first hand.
    The second assumption you make: “in your rhetoric, you claim that the illegalization of marijuana is due to corporate finagling and government paranoia. Essentially, pot is outlawed because the suits can’t regulate it, anybody can grow it and that billions of dollars that would’ve been taxed end up squandered as a result.”
    If I’m not mistaken, AS I’M A HORTICULTURE MINOR, I am pretty sure anyone can grow tobacco. But you don’t see many people doing it. I also am fairly certain that any citizen can legally brew a certain amount of beer in their basement. But you don’t see many people doing that either? Why? because citizens don’t want to take the time and energy. It’s much easier for citizens to just buy it from a licensed establishment instead of making it themselves. If you truly believe everyone who uses marijuana would grow it themselves if legalized and regulated. You’re sadly mistaken. It would be the same as alcohol or tobacco, a few people would grow or make it, while the vast majority buy it and pay those taxes we need so badly.
    The third assumption you make: Marijuana should remain illegal because of the psychoactive properties that the users experience. You use this logic as the difference between tobacco and marijuana. But alcohol has psychoactive characteristics also. What do we do? Regulate how alcohol can be consumed instead of criminalizing an entire group of people at the expense of the taxpayer.
    Your entire article is based on the assumption that people aren’t using marijuana and that we would be “introducing” a new substance. I think that fact that almost 900,000 people get arrested for possessing marijuana each year proves we are not “introducing” anything new into society. So those construction workers you talk about, a few of them my friends, already smoke pot, before and after work. Trust me I know plenty of construction workers. If they aren’t at the bar, they’re at home smoking.
    Your assumptions shock me, pure and simple. Your lack of logic and rational thinking surprises me beyond belief. I would like you to do your research before you start writing. I don’t like to have to correct you.
    The only true statement you made in the entire article is at the end. “Decriminalizing pot doesn’t solve anything; it simply fosters the growth of individualistic disillusionment, and in that, real sociocultural plight is sure to blossom.”
    That’s a true statement. Because decriminalizing pot wouldn’t regulate it. We need regulation to take the rates of marijuana use down. We need regulation to control who buys it. We need regulation to collect taxes to fund treatment for the addicted.
    Don’t fool yourself James. Marijuana is here to stay. We need Regulation because prohibition gives up all control and creates violence and huge profit margins for ANYONE who wants to get involved.

  36. when people go to rehabe its for alcohale not reerer when they get out if they are beer drinkers they have a beer what a waste of time. i never met a smoker that went too rehabe

  37. Marijuana is a true gift from God .. it grows readily in any Country of the world and has a myriad list of beneficial uses. (see below) If marijuana were legalized the drug companies would loose over 50% of the money they steal from consumers for ‘their’ manufactured drugs that have serious side affects which cause us to purchase more manufactured drugs to battle the side affects. Marijuana cures or treats many ailments with NO serious side affects.

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