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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:19 am 
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A little off topic than most questions here, but a physiological topic nonetheless. Now this topic has been debated for quite some time, and the government has taken the side of alcohol being less dangerous. Most kids, however, take the side of marijuana, saying weed is not as dangerous as alcohol. Amsterdam, on the flip side, doesn't care.

So let's get straight to the point. Which is more damaging, purely in terms of health? The intake of alcohol or the intake of marijuana?

Here are my views on the topic:
Alcohol:
In nearly every town, regardless of size or race, there is some sort of bar or liquor store. Alcohol is ubiquitous. Wine is the beverage of choice in fine dining. Beer is the beverage of choice when you are "with the guys." When you go out to party, most don't ask for a cup of apple juice. They ask for a Jack and Coke. With its incredible exposure through Super Bowl commercials and brand labelling on every busy street corner, everyone knows about alcohol. On nearly every college campus and in every frat house (except BYU of course), there is some sort of alcohol, whether it be a keg or hard liquor. With that said, I think it's a cultural oddity that alcohol is so unanimously accepted, yet any other "substance" is strictly forbidden. In my mind, I see alcohol as a way to escape the daily grind. However, I also see it as a pure toxin. Your body cannot process alcohol into a usable substance. Every drop of alcohol you drink will eventually be pissed out. There are no positive effects of consuming alcohol (there is in wine, but that is due to the grapes, not the alcohol). Therefore, alcohol, especially hard liquor and beer, lacks any nutritional value whatsoever.

Marijuana:
America's war on drugs. It's incredible how far the government will go to fight this war. Let's put it in perspective. If you rape someone, you maintain more government privileges than if you are caught with possession of marijuana. The laws on marijuana have little to do with the actual properties of the drug. That explains the policies that we now have. In fact, there have been no definitive studies that point towards marijuana being a purely harmful substance. Some hospitals have even used it for medicinal purposes. The addictiveness of marijuana is also purely mental. Unlike cocaine or heroine, you cannot be physically addicted to marijuana, making it far less dangerous than those. However, marijuana can be considered a gateway drug. And the fact that it can be addictive is a problem in and of itself (but so can alcohol). In addition, marijuana is mostly smoked, and the dangers of inhaling substances is already well documented.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:19 am 
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I agree with that. It is really going to depend on the ammount. Very extreme ammounts of alcohol can be deadly. However long term marijuana smoking can lead to emphisema. I don't really see a problem with the THC. It is just the smoke that is the issue. Long term heavy use will damage the lungs. We also don't really know weather or not it may cause lung cancer. Of course long term heavy alcohol use will destroy your liver. You can't really live without that either. You can't die from a marijuana overdose though. No violence either. The worst thing your likely to do to your wife while high is eat her dinner. Of course alcohol is 100% safe in lower doses.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 6:50 am 
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Long term heavy abuse of both alcohol and cannabis are obviously dangerous to both mental and physical health however i believe in terms of physical health cannabis has to be the worst, plainly due to what ironman said about the smoke being the damaging factor.
Yes alcohol will destroy your liver over time as a result of excessive abuse, but from a purely sporting and exercise point of view (as im sure most of us on this site are concerned with) then smoking has to be considered the most damaging as it inhibits the lungs from perfroming their most primary function, one of which is essential for sportsmen and women. I know how damaging cannabis is to your physical health, however could not comment on the effects of alcoholism on your liver which probably means my opinion is biased anyway.

In terms of mental health there is some evidence to show that light drinking (less than 7 units a week) could improve general mental health in some adults. However, there is far more evidnce though to show conditions such a depression are a consequence from excessive drinking, although it is true to say that mental health problems are ofetn the cause of excessive drinking.........
The mental health risks of cannabis are being documented more and more of late as the drug becomes more popular with younger people, and there is evidence to show it can lead to schitsophrenia (sp?) in later life as a result of exessive use from an early age.

It is clear that the view on Cannabis is far different in America than it is in England, possession over here never usually warrents more than confiscation and a caution from the police, although it does depend on the circumstance and the amount possessed.
Alcohol is seen as a far worse problem, not only due to the fact that it causes larger numbers of fights, injuries and deaths than cannabis, but due to the increase popularity of binge drinking in teenage girls, something of which is very well documented in the press.

Whilst cannabis will damage your health and maybe the health of others if you smoke it around them (which is their choice to be there), alcohol damages your health and often the health of innocent passes by who just might have looked at someone the wrong way!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:37 am 
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hindsight wrote:
In terms of mental health there is some evidence to show that light drinking (less than 7 units a week) could improve general mental health in some adults.


I just wanted to point out that in all likelyhood, the benefits are not due to alcohol, but rather to other substances contained in the alcholic beverage (grapes for example).

EDIT: I see VoK has already alluded to this.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 10:21 am 
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I think alcohol is definately worse. But pot does have some harmful side affects other than just physical ailments. Pot might not be physically addictive, but from many people I have known, it is definately mentally addictive. People go "oh I hard such a hard day at work" or "my life sucks" and think pot is the solution. Or they think they must smoke it too have a good time. Don't get me wrong, I think alcohol is worse, but I do not agree with most people I know thinking pot is totally harmless (as many friends of mine think). What the government needs to do is let it be sold, and tax the hell out of it, so many we could fund other programs better (hah, like that would ever happen). People are so concerned over so many drugs, but what it really boils down to is self control. Some people can easily control their vices, while others just induldge entirely too much. That goes with everything. Everyone seems to be addicted to something, regardless of whether or not they know it. On this site, I would make a generality saying that people here are addicted to exercise (something more people need to be addicted to!). Of course, there are those of us who take it to far, like steroids and such. Basically it boils down to finding something healthier to be addicted too! (sorry for the rambling, my mind is wondering this morning!)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:14 am 
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Seems messed up that pot is illegal and normal cigarettes aren't. Never tried em, but I heard normal cigarettes are more addictive than heroine.

But I'm not in favor of legalizing pot just because cigarettes are legal.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:45 am 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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I agree that alcohol is probably more dangerous than marijuana, but both are harmful. Meanwhile, tobacco is worse than either, but I don't think this is a convincing argument for legalizing marijuana.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:51 am 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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A potential problem with legalizing marijuana is that it would be difficult to legalize marijuana without also legalizing hashish (a much more potent drug), since hash is made from marijuana and contains the same active chemical compound (THC).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:46 pm 
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The legalization of marijuana will never happen in the US, at least not in our life times.

Who would bring about this change? Sure, there are kids everywhere that are up in arms about the legalization of marijuana. But how motivated can they be to bring about change? How motivated can they be when they are high? ;)

Even if there was a sizable force leaning towards the legalization of marijuana, the government would never allow it. Legalizing marijuana would mean the billions of tax dollars spent on the "war on drugs" was all for naught. And you know how us Americans love to have a reputation...

Though it makes monetary, economic, and societal sense to do something positive about the marijuana situation (decriminalization, etc), the government has invested far too much in this "war" to ever change. I would be greatly surprised if the funding for the war on drugs doesn't increase dramatically in the following years.

And it's a self destructive process. As marijuana laws become more stringent, the price of marijuana rises, causes young adults to pay more money, while making marijuana dealers quite rich. Supply and demand. SOmething the government can't control.

But lets be clear. I'm not for the legalization of marijuana. Quite frankly, I personally don't care that much about marijuana. I just think it's a great debate topic.

But lets say we did legalize marijuana. Would this country go crazy?

Maybe, maybe not. But the fact of the matter is, Sweden has one of the least stringent laws on marijuana. Yet they have one of the lowest usage rates in the world.

Chew on that.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 2:40 pm 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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Are you sure it's not the other way around? Maybe their laws are the way they are because marijuana has never been a very popular drug in Sweden.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:18 pm 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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One of the best arguments I've ever heard in favor of legalizing marijuana relates to marijuana being a gateway drug. It goes something like this .....

Many marijuana dealers also deal in harder drugs, so when potheads come to them to buy marijuana, they do their best to sell them the harder stuff also, whether it's cocain, heroin, ecstacy, mushrooms or whatever. If marijuana were legal, drug dealers would lose a large portion of their business. Meanwhile, marijuana users might never come in contact with harder drugs, since they could pick up their drug of choice at the local convenience store right next to the beer and cigarettes.

It's an interesting theory.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:41 pm 
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Apprentice
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Different drugs for different purposes, as they say. So have fun, but don't get behind the wheel of a car when you're messed up. Common sense should prevail.

The grass we smoked in my day was 100X less strong than the yuppie pot going around nowadays. Dang! How high do you have to get? As for alcohol, I'm pretty much down to a couple of beers on the weekend, if that. Calories, calories, calories. As for pot, well, I'm 45, and I'm in semi-retirement from my crazy days. My rip-roarin' prime is well past me --- no one got hurt; no regrets. Anyway I'd rather have a good workout than do anything else, no fooling. Followed by a good meal.

Sleep is the new drug of choice for me.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:46 pm 
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In Memoriam: TimD
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Hey guys. I know I'm a crusty old thing, but I graduated HS in the San Francisco Bay Area back in the summer of love, and saw the Haight Asbury thing up close and personal. I'm neutral, and Matt brings up a good point. I also think that it correlates with the main reason marijuana is not leal, and that's the alcohol and tobacco lobbies at work in congress. Doesn't really matter how many reasons are valid, the point is, it's going to cut into their business, and they have the money to "influence" congress to keep the whole idea of legalization tabled.
Tim


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:25 pm 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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Actually, I'm about as straightedge as you can get. I don't drink or use drugs, and never have. The closest I come substace abuse, is an occational strong cup of coffee, so on a gut level the idea of being able to walk into a 7-11 and buy a dime bag and some rolling papers just seems wrong. However, my head tells me that marijuana is everywhere. It's easier for kids to get weed than it is to get beer, so whatever we're doing as a society isn't working.

Also, public opinion is important. Prohibition failed because the public viewed/views alcohol as relatively harmless and socially acceptable. Increasingly people seem to be viewing marijuana in the same light, which can only hinder the war on drugs.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:58 pm 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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For these reasons it's hard for me to know how to feel about legalization. It's certainly not something I champion, but I can sympathize with some of the arguments in favor.


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