Alcohol appears to be linked more closely with weight gain than marijuana, despite weeds tendency to trigger the munchies.
Alcohol appears to be linked more closely with weight gain than marijuana, despite weed's tendency to trigger the munchies.
Shutterstock Which is worse for you: weed or whiskey?
It's a tough call. There are dozens of factors to account for, including how the substances affect your heart, brain, and behavior, and how likely you are to get hooked. Time is important, too — while some effects are noticeable immediately, others only begin to shape up after months or years of use.
The comparison is slightly unfair for another reason: While scientists have been researching the effects of alcohol for decades, the science of cannabis is a lot murkier due to its mostly illegal status.
Still, based on the studies we have, there appears to be a clear winner.
30,722 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes in 2014. There have been 0 documented deaths from marijuana use alone.
Marijuana appears to be significantly less addictive than alcohol.
Marijuana may be harder on your heart; while moderate drinking could be beneficial.
Unlike alcohol, which slows down your heart rate, marijuana speeds it up, which could have negative short-term effects on the heart. Still, the largest-ever report on cannabis from the National Academies of Sciences, which was released in January, found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the overall risk of a heart attack.
On the other hand, low to moderate drinking — about a glass a day — has been linked with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke when compared to complete abstention. Still, James Nicholls, a director at Alcohol Research UK, told the Guardian that those findings should be taken with a grain of salt since "any protective effects tend to be cancelled out by even occasional bouts of heavier drinking."
Alcohol is strongly linked with several types of cancer; marijuana is not.
Both drugs may be linked with risks while driving, but alcohol is worse.
Several studies link alcohol with violence, particularly at home. That has not been found for cannabis.
It's impossible to say whether drinking alcohol or using marijuana causes violence, but several studies suggest a link between alcohol and violent behavior. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes, and a study of college students found that the rates of mental and physical abuse were .
On the other hand, no such relationship appears to exist for cannabis. A recent study looked at cannabis use and intimate partner violence in the first decade of marriage, and found that marijuana users were
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