Did you know that you can die from getting drunk, however, no one has ever died from getting stoned?
The criminalization of marijuana is absurd when you take a scientific look at the difference between getting drunk and getting stoned. Humanity has indulged in both alcohol and marijuana since time immemorial.
However, authorities will arrest you for the one that won’t kill you, and ironically likely indulge themselves in the other deadly one in their spare time.
Clearly, this is not to say that weed is entirely innocent. It is a psychoactive drug that can be extremely damaging to teenagers and dangerous to those with schizophrenia. However, alcohol is no saint, with alcoholism affecting 1 in 12 people in the US alone.
So what exactly do both do to your body when you use them?
Worse case scenarios
How much alcohol will kill you in one sitting?
Not as much as you imagine. Many reported deaths have occurred once people’s blood alcohol level reaches 0.3. What that means, is for the average person, having 15 standard drinks during a 2 hour period can be suicide.
To illustrate, John Bonham, the former drummer of Led Zepplin, infamously died after consuming 16 shots of vodka for breakfast and then following that with another 40 drinks throughout the rest of the day.
How much marijuana will kill you in one sitting?
It is categorically impossible to go on a weed binge and die. A person would need to consume 1500 pounds of marijuana within a 15 minute period for it to kill them.
Detrimental effects of irresponsible consumption of weed vs. alcohol
People who drink irresponsibly are playing a deadly game. Not just deadly to themselves, but deadly to others. Every year, alcohol claims the lives of around 88,000 people. Alcoholism is devastating and extremely hard to cure.
Alcoholism can be genetically inherited if your family has a history. People also use alcohol to numb emotional and mental torment and resultantly end up turning into alcoholics. Environmental factors also turn people to irresponsible drinking. If your culture or community encourage it, you can develop a drinking problem.
Weed, on the other hand, proves detrimental mostly when used by individuals who cannot tolerate it. If you are under the age of 21, you will destroy parts of your developing brain irreversibly. Your ability to remember things deteriorates.
Additionally, people with mental illness can have severe adverse reactions to marijuana. People with depression can become more depressed. Those with anxiety disorders can make their anxiety worse. Most frighteningly, is that people pre-disposed to schizophrenia can develop it after using weed.
Marijuana can cause psychosis and hallucinations, so in a person that is pre-disposed to mental illness, this can be devastating to their lives.
A combined problem connected to both weed and alcohol is how it impairs your judgment and coordination. Devastatingly, people who drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of both of these are at risk of killing others and themselves.
Another problem that can arise from an inexperienced weed user having too much THC in one go is the experience of extreme anxiety and paranoia. If too much THC arrives at the cannabinoid receptors within the amygdala, the person will experience a fight/flight response.
The amygdala is responsible for our survival instincts, and it is interpreting the experience as a survival threat.
All things in moderation
What occurs within your body and brain when you consume alcohol?
Ethanol is the active ingredient in alcohol. The stomach rapidly absorbs ethanol, and your body interprets it to be a poison. The liver attempts to combat the ethanol by releasing, and an enzyme called dehydrogenase. This enzyme converts alcohol into acetaldehyde which further breaks it down into acetic acid.
If you drink more alcohol than your liver can convert, you will start to feel drunk. And this drunk feeling can be deceptive. Alcohol is a depressant, but initially, it fills you with euphoria. Your brain releases dopamine which encourages you to drop your inhibitions.
However, the depressive effects start to overtake your body also. The alcohol has increased the effects of the inhibitory transmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These effects make you clumsier, and your vision starts to become impaired.
Additionally, alcohol blocks the hormone vasopressin, which prevents the kidneys from excreting too much fluid. Consequently, this makes you need to urinate more frequently. And the fluids you are excreting are greater than the amount you are drinking.
Subsequently, this leads to dehydration, which is the main culprit when you become drunk enough to experience a hangover the next day.
What happens to your body when you inhale marijuana?
Your body absorbs the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) into the brain and dopamine is released. Dopamine fills you with euphoria instantaneously. What happens next is a matter of personality.
Some users will report instant relaxation. Others dislike the sensation and feel anxious and paranoid. Nevertheless, the heart rate increases. Additionally, coordination becomes impaired, and your memory becomes hazy.
The cannabis will begin to inhibit the brain receptor C1BR, which regulates how your body tells you it is hungry. The notorious “munchies” take a hold, and you can’t stop eating, as your body doesn’t know when it is full.
After a couple of hours, you might feel either sleepy or a bit depressed. Those who are experiencing a depressive effect are prone to become heavier users, as they desire to return to a state of euphoria. Heavier users can develop impaired dopamine production, which in turn can create cravings and addiction.
How much cannabis is safe to consume?
Different types of marijuana have different effects. Similarly, this is the same with alcohol, although it is likely more subtle. To ensure you don’t overdo the amount of THC you fill your body with it is necessary to comprehend the distinction between the different categories.
Flowers are the most familiar to users. Smoking is the safest way to ensure moderate use. If you have not used it before, it is important to go very slowly and test how you react. Literally, do not smoke a whole joint unless you are used to it!
Concentrated marijuana comes in the form of oils, waxes, kief and hash. Comparatively, if flowers are like having a beer, concentrates are like drinking spirits. Even experienced users should go lightly if they wish to try these.
When the stomach absorbs THC, the effects are far more dramatic. Most likely, it is infusions of these concentrates within edible products like a cookie or muffin. Ironically, you would assume these would be more innocent. However, the opposite is the truth. The effects are stronger and last longer.
If you have obtained medical marijuana from an official dispensary, make sure they give you accurate dosage information.
How much alcohol is safe to consume?
To avoid dangerously getting drunk, a woman should have no more than one drink per day, and a man no more than two. In short, this is because the biology of men and women is vastly different.
The definition of a standard drink is as follows:
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
- 5 ounces of wine with a 12% alcohol volume
- 12 ounces of beer with a 5% alcohol volume
Sometimes you want to have more to drink during special occasions. In these instances, at least pace your standard drinks to no more than one within an hour. In this way, your body has time to process the alcohol. Also, make sure you never drink on an empty stomach, or else the impact of the ethanol will be much stronger and you will become drunk.
Are there any benefits to alcohol and weed?
In moderation, there are benefits to both drinking alcohol and consuming marijuana.
Benefits of responsible alcohol consumption:
- Can reduce the risk of heart disease
- Can minimize the risk of ischemic stroke
- Can lessen the risk of diabetes
- Can make you live longer
- Can prevent colds
- Can decrease the chance of dementia
- Can reduce the risk of gallstones
Benefits of responsible weed consumption:
- Can increase your pain threshold as it has anti-inflammatory effects
- Can relieve chronic pain
- Some claim it can control epilepsy
- Can decrease irritable bowel syndrome
- Your body can develop a healthier response to sugar
In conclusion, it is clear that the demonization of marijuana is unfair. And the view that alcohol is safe is also a myth. Either alcohol should be classed as a dangerous drug, just like marijuana is, or we need to decriminalize marijuana finally. What do you think?