By Sam Sabzehzar | April 23, 2011
With the passing of what many marijuana users take part in every year, their 4/20 celebration on April 20, Medical Marijuana 411 thought we would take a look at another celebratory day of intoxication, St. Paddy’s Day, to see what impact on the community these two holidays have, from the perspective of public safety.
We know the dangers of alcohol on the body quite well, and can see it in the statistics if we look at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s own research and compare how many fatalities occurred, along with why and how.
According to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, 37 percent of the drivers and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above, and on any average night, at least 50% (and upwards of 66%) of all fatal crashes involved a drunk driver in 2009.
Contrast this to cannabis consumption for recreational purposes, even as an illegal substance and without safe access to it for many, once obtained it is usually done in a responsible way and in a safe environment. The danger that a dealer is pushing harsher drugs can be damaging to the addictive personality, but the substances themselves are even more safe than alcohol.
Many other government resources illuminate the fact that the Journal of Addictive Behaviors underscore through their statement that alcohol use contributes to the likelihood of domestic violence and other violent behavior while marijuana does not.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control even states that there were 331 alcohol overdoses in 2001 and zero overdoses on marijuana.
So if marijuana is clearly the safer choice to make, why are we driving Americans to drink?
This is the question that is asked by co-authors Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of NORML, Mason Tvert, Executive Director of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation), and Steve Fox, Director of State Campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project. Through their excellent book Marijuana is Safer (So why are we driving people to drink?) they examine the dangers of alcohol and how marijuana, a safer substance for the body, is a safer choice, if it weren’t for the fact that it is an illegal substance.
“I have always maintained that the legalization of marijuana would lead to an overall drop in substance abuse in this country. In particular, the option of legal marijuana use, as an alternative to the death and violence associated with alcohol use, would be a welcome societal change.” ~ Gary Johnson, former Gov. of New Mexico and current Presidential candidate
Colorado, which is one of the most progressive states with marijuana decriminalization, and has a very good medical marijuana program in place, recently heard Police Chief Ken Robinson echo what many in law enforcement know when he asserted that marijuana is safer than alcohol, concluding cannabis “should’ve been decriminalized a long time ago,” according to the Providence Journal.
With so many ill effects from alcohol, including violence (including sexual assaults and domestic violence), accidents, and overdoses, it’s about time we give americans a safer choice. Not only would the recreational user be safer, but their environment is safer and our children are further from harm’s reach.