The debate on the harmfulness of various drugs, including cannabis, has always been an interesting topic. People have different opinions on which substance is actually the most harmful to health and society as a whole. Recently, some leading doctors have shared their insights, emphasising that alcohol and tobacco, not cannabis, should be considered the most harmful substances.
Alcohol: A prime threat
Dr Anand Akhil, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic, points out the disturbing fact that alcohol consumption is associated with more than 200 health problems and diseases. These include depression, anxiety, dementia, cancer, heart and liver disease, and bone disease. This is a serious list of conditions that make it evident that moderation is important when it comes to alcohol intake. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services sets guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, such as a maximum of two drinks a day for men and one drink for women.
It turns out that even moderate alcohol consumption can damage health. However, there are no guidelines for safe cannabis consumption. Is this because cannabis is less harmful?
Cigarettes and Tobacco: A path to destruction
Tobacco is also known for its harmful effects on health. Tobacco smoking has been linked to serious cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease. However, Dr Kevin Most of Northwestern Central DuPage Hospital, stresses that the harms of tobacco use can be largely reversed if people stop smoking at a young age.
But what makes tobacco so harmful compared to cannabis? According to some experts, tobacco has no benefit at all, even in small amounts. This is in direct contrast to alcohol, of which some studies suggest that moderate consumption, a glass of wine for example, can have benefits to health.
Cannabis: The least harmful option?
It is clear that both alcohol and tobacco carry significant health risks. In comparison, the aforementioned doctors rank cannabis harmfulness lower than alcohol and tobacco. This is especially true when cannabis is used in appropriate amounts and in a controlled environment.
Dr Most emphasises the importance of cannabis as medicine, especially for patients undergoing chemotherapy. It can help maintain appetite and ensures that patients get enough nutrients. There are also medical uses for cannabis in treating chronic pain, anxiety, trauma, insomnia and muscle disorders.
Of course, it is important to note that using cannabis is not without risk, especially for young adults as their brains are not yet fully developed. It can exacerbate mental health problems and affect memory and focus.
A new take on the harmfulness of cannabis
Comparing the harmfulness of different drugs is complex and depends on several factors. Moderate cannabis use seems to be less harmful than moderate alcohol use. For one-time overuse, alcohol seems to have the upper hand when it comes to health risks.
However, it is important to remember that excessive use of both alcohol and cannabis can be harmful, with alcohol being significantly more damaging. These insights highlight the importance of responsibility and moderation in the use of all substances.
What does this mean for society?
The fact that several doctors consider cannabis to be less harmful compared to alcohol and tobacco sheds new light on the debate on drug use. The positive view of cannabis compared to tobacco and alcohol suggests that it is time to rethink our drug policies. Instead of focusing on repression, we could consider investing more resources in education, prevention and treatment of drug addiction.
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