Historically, cannabis was portrayed as ‘the scourge of man’ in film and by mainstream media. The related reefer madness-induced stigma was simultaneously perpetuated by lawmakers across the globe. Meanwhile, alcohol is embraced by most cultures and political majorities around the world and has been for a logn time, which is unfortunate given how much safer cannabis is compared to alcohol.
In fact, a team of international researchers once determined that cannabis is roughly 114 times safer than alcohol. Given that mathematical fact and the scientific research backing it up, why is cannabis illegal in so many places, and yet alcohol is permitted?
According to the World Health Organization, “The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions,” and “Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. This represents 5.3% of all deaths.”
Conversely, no one has ever died in recorded human history from consuming cannabinoids alone. There have been examples of cannabis being contaminated and people dying from consuming the contaminants, but never from consuming the cannabinoids alone. Clearly, given those facts, cannabis prohibition policies are not based on science.
While it’s very important to highlight the hypocrisy of cannabis prohibition and simultaneous permitted alcohol consumption and sales, it’s also important to refrain from shaming people for alcohol use. Just as consuming cannabis is a personal choice, so too is the choice to consume alcohol. Prohibition of either substance doesn’t work.
With that being said, given the difference between the two from a safety standpoint, the more that people consume cannabis instead of alcohol is always a good thing, and something that governments should encourage as part of a harm reduction strategy.
That is a point that seems to be embraced by at least one lawmaker in India who is ramping up calls to regulate cannabis like alcohol. Per excerpts from Scroll.in:
A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Chhattisgarh has suggested the promotion of bhaang and cannabis as alternatives to liquor, claiming that those who consume the former rarely commit serious crimes, PTI reported on Monday.
While I don’t agree with some of the rhetorical alcohol shaming that is part of the conversation in India right now, I do agree with the sentiment on the pro-cannabis side to some degree.
Just as someone can consume alcohol responsibly and should be allowed to do so, so too should people be allowed to consume cannabis responsibly if that is their choice, and that should be true in India as well as everywhere else.