Carroll wrote a provocative piece for the New York Times exploring what's known about the risks of these two popular but easily abused substances. And while doesn't advocate underage users trying either one, he says it's clear that overall, alcohol causes a lot more harm. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀"After going through all the data and looking at which is more dangerous in almost any metric you would pick, pot really looks like it's safer than alcohol," he said. "So I guess if I had to choose, that would be the answer."
Researchers who studied marijuana safety say marijuana is by no means a safe drug. Its use is correlated with tobacco and alcohol use. People who begin smoking marijuana tend to use multiple substances, just not the one.
Lachenmeier stresses that his findings do not mean marijuana is safe. Some doctors argue asking whether marijuana is less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol is misguided. Dr. Sharon Levy, who directs the adolescent substance abuse program at Boston Children’s Hospital, says people who use marijuana are likely to drink and smoke cigarettes as well.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀"So it’s not a really productive health strategy to say, 'Look, if we could get everyone to start smoking marijuana then we would avoid these other substances.' That’s just not something that’s true," Levy said.
Alcohol may not be a safe substance, but it's a substance society is equipped to handle. Anti-drug activists like Attorney General Jeff Sessions worry about what will happen when drug use becomes more widely accepted. Alcohol may have its negative aspects, but it's an accepted part of American culture. People like Sessions worry that accepting marijuana would be a slippery slope to widespread drug use in the United States.
I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.