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The other day, the journal Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine published a story about the death of an 11-month-old baby, whose parents regularly used marijuana. Although the link between marijuana and the death of a child has not yet been established, there is an active discussion in the media that this is the first death associated with cannabis.
Meanwhile, the question of whether it is more dangerous for the body - tetrahydrocannabinol or ethanol (the main active substances of cannabis and alcohol) was asked by Erin Brodwin, a scientific correspondent for the American publication Business Insider. The Health Mail.Ru project publishes a brief translation of the article. We also note that in Russia the purchase, storage and transportation of marijuana is prohibited by law.

Premature death
At this point, alcohol is clearly “winning”: according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, for reasons related to alcohol abuse, nearly 31 thousand Americans died. At the same time, not a single death caused by an overdose of cannabis has yet been officially recorded in the United States. The results of a study published in 1997 in the American Journal of Public Health, in which 65,000 Americans took part, demonstrate that healthy marijuana smokers have chances for an early death exactly the same as those healthy people who do not use cannabis.
Research results say that addiction is extremely rare among users of marijuana and passes easily, which is not the case with alcohol, hard drugs and nicotine. According to the American National Institute of Drug Abuse, addiction is produced in 9 percent of grass smokers, 15 percent of those who use alcohol, 23 percent of those who used heroin and 32 percent of tobacco smokers.

Effect on the cardiovascular system

Unlike alcohol, which generally slows heart rate, marijuana speeds up the heart, which can potentially adversely affect cardiac activity. At the same time, the assumption that the use of cannabis increases the risk of a heart attack is not scientifically confirmed or refuted. In turn, there is evidence that a very moderate use of alcohol (about one conditional portion, 14 grams per day) reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. This is evidenced by the results of a large-scale study, published in March 2012 in the journal Stroke (although several large studies have appeared since then, showing that even occasional drinking is harmful).
Impact on cancer
In contrast to marijuana, long-term and regular alcohol abuse is a prerequisite for a number of cancer diseases, in particular, cancer of the stomach and breast, which has been proven by numerous scientific studies. A large-scale report by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States on the effects of cannabis use on health, published in January 2017, indicates that no evidence of a link between smoking marijuana and an increased risk of lung, head and neck cancer, as when smoking cigarettes, was found.

Impact on driving

Both substances in a certain way affect the coordination of movements and decision-making, that is, it would seem to increase the risks while driving, but alcohol in this sense is fundamentally worse than marijuana. The presence of detectable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol in the blood does not increase the risk of getting into a car accident, a study conducted by the American Driving Safety Agency showed. Smoked drivers quietly crawl in the right lane and are not dangerous. While the presence in the blood of at least 0.05 ppm alcohol (1-2 bottles of beer) increases the risk of accidents by 575% - that is, almost six times.
Aggression, memory and mental illness
Many studies show that there is a direct relationship between alcohol abuse and violence, especially domestic abuse. At the same time, no link was found between marijuana smoking and aggressive behavior.
Both hemp and vodka have a negative effect on memory, but in different ways. Alcohol can cause memory lapses, disrupting the brain’s ability to shape memories. This effect is especially pronounced in chronic alcoholism. Cannabis also makes memory weaker, and this effect can last for several weeks after stopping its use.
Among marijuana smokers, the level of psychosis and schizophrenia is higher, and in alcoholics, depression and anxiety disorder. True, scientists have not yet come to a common opinion - the abuse of, for example, alcohol leads to depression and anxiety, or people in this state often resort to alcohol to alleviate their symptoms.

Weight effect

Despite the increased appetite associated with smoking marijuana, alcohol is much more conducive to weight gain and obesity. Smokers tend to eat more, since tetrahydrocannabinol reduces the strength of natural signals of saturation, and affects the taste buds, making the food tastier. However, despite the additional 600 calories consumed on average by smoking marijuana, smokers do not gain weight. Studies show that the risk of obesity is even reduced. While people who drink heavily this risk is significantly increased, the results of a study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed. In addition, alcohol is caloric in itself - there are about 150 calories in a can of beer, and 120 calories in a glass of wine.
“Thus, everything suggests that the effects of alcohol are much more extreme and healthier than the use of marijuana,” concludes Brodin.
Medical use of marijuana is allowed in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Israel, Finland and Portugal, some states of the USA and Australia, Greece, Mexico City and Poland. This remedy is used for epilepsy, anorexia, bronchial asthma, migraine, arthritis, spinal diseases, mental and neurological disorders.

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