Everyone has heard it before, alcohol and tobacco more dangerous than marijuana, but is it true?
In short, yes.
In descending order, here are the most dangerous to your health:
In fact, marijuana is so significantly lower in risk, it does not even come close to alcohol or tobacco at all. Here is the Gable chart of dependence potential for reference.
Tobacco, when smoked, chewed or held in the lower lip releases a chemical called nicotine, raising blood pressure, increasing blood from the heart and temporarily providing a head high. However, this comes with some serious dangers, as it can be very harmful to the human body. According to the CDC, smoking tobacco causes over 480,000 human deaths per year in the US alone. It also is the leading cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smokers are also at high risk for heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease and chronic bronchitis. Other forms of consuming Tobacco are still at a higher risk for developing mouth cancer. Overall, consuming or smoking Tobacco leaves a person more likely to develop severe health issues the longer it is used.
Alcohol, when consumed, is metabolized by the liver in order to get broken down in the body. However, the liver can only metabolize small amounts of alcohol at a time and the rest circulates throughout the human body. This causes the effects we feel when we drink in excess. Alcohol is not overly harmful if consumed moderately, which is 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men according to the CDC. Drinking in excess, however, can damage the body severely and lead to dependency relatively easily. Excess use can lead to liver disease, heart failure, pancreatitis, cancer of the neck / mouth, liver cancer and other psychological issues.
Marijuana, when consumed, smoked, or applied has a lower risk factor than all of the above. When cannabis enters the body, cannabinoids attach to receptors in the brain to cause temporary euphoria in the body and can relieve pain for a certain amount of time. The only risk-based form of taking marijuana is the act of smoking it, which can obviously lead to issues with the lungs and throat. Cannabis poses almost no risk of any health issues when taken in any form aside from smoking. It also does not kill brain cells like alcohol does. Marijuana should be treated as a medication; however, overuse can lead to a strong psychoactive effect that could last over several hours. It should also be treated similar to alcohol when considering operating a vehicle, please do not drive high.
So why is marijuana less harmful then tobacco and alcohol, yet illegal?
To learn about the history of marijuana and why it is looked down on in the U.S. today, please see our article about the history of marijuana.