London, United Kingdom–(ENEWSPF)–November 3, 2011. Alcohol consumption causes far greater harms to the individual user and to society than does the use of cannabis, according to a review published online in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the journal of the British Association of Psychopharmacology.
Investigators at the Imperial College of London assessed “the relative physical, psychological, and social harms of cannabis and alcohol.” Authors reported that cannabis inhalation, particularly long-term, contributes to some potential adverse health effects — including harms to the lungs, circulatory system, as well as the exacerbation of certain mental health risks. By contrast, authors described alcohol as ” a toxic substance” that is responsible for an estimated five percent “of the total global disease burden.”
Researchers determined, “A direct comparison of alcohol and cannabis showed that alcohol was considered to be more than twice as harmful as cannabis to [individual] users, and five times more harmful as cannabis to others (society). … As there are few areas of harm that each drug can produce where cannabis scores more [dangerous to health] than alcohol, we suggest that even if there were no legal impediment to cannabis use, it would be unlikely to be more harmful than alcohol.”
They concluded, “The findings underline the need for a coherent, evidence-based drugs policy that enables individuals to make informed decisions about the consequences of their drug use.”
Full text of the study, “Popular intoxicants: what lessons can be learned from the last 40 years of alcohol and cannabis regulation,” will appear in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.