The following blog post is by Family Council staff member Deborah Beuerman.
People who smoke marijuana frequently claim it’s safer than alcohol. But why should that make a difference? Both are harmful. People get addicted to both. People’s bodies are damaged and made sick by both. Drunk drivers cause fatal accidents. The number of fatalities with marijuana involved has more than doubled in states where marijuana is legal.
It’s a little easier to deal with drunks than with stoned people. Proof is needed to arrest someone for impaired driving. It’s pretty easy to tell someone is drunk, and there are field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer to determine how much alcohol is in the system. There are no field tests for marijuana levels, although some new marijuana breathalyzers are being tested.
How is “impaired” defined anyway? With alcohol, it is a number to indicate the blood alcohol concentration, and the more alcohol that’s in the blood, the more drunk a person is. Marijuana impairment can’t be defined that way—no numbers have been determined, neither has it been determined how to figure out what the numbers should be.
The body handles alcohol and marijuana differently. Alcohol is water soluble, moves into the bloodstream, breaks down, and eventually is excreted out of the body. A person who quits drinking after reaching the “legal limit” of 0.08 blood alcohol will be sober in about 5 hours.
Marijuana is fat soluble and is stored in the fatty tissue in organs like the lungs, heart, brain, and liver. Depending on how much is smoked, how often, and how potent it is, marijuana could be in a body 60 days later.
Marijuana is harmful. Alcohol is harmful. Why should we try to figure out which one is safer?