Marijuana vs Tobacco vs Alcohol – Which One Gets to Be Illegal?

Between the three most commonly used recreational drugs in the United States, there’s only one that’s illegal. Can you guess which one it is? Here’s a hint – it’s not the one that has a multi-billion dollar industry and its lawyers behind it. Yes, the big three among the recreational drugs are alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, and of the three only marijuana is illegal. The comparison between marijuana, tobacco and alcohol is as old cannabis advocating itself. This is a sore point for many a cannabis user, the fact that more addictive and destructive substances are free to be used in general population while a substance with possible medical applications is declared illegal for some reason and even more it’s classified as Schedule I (Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. ) . But that reason is not safety, because the facts say that of the three, marijuana is the safest to use. If you need some convincing to believe this, just look at the comparison between the effects of the three. [include file=style-post.txt]
Marijuana Tobacco Alcohol
Marijuana Tobacco Alcohol
Low AddictionPossibilityIt is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. ExtremelyAddictiveRoughly 26% of us started losing control over continued smoking after just 3 to 4 cigarettes, rising to 44% after smoking 5 to 9. HighlyAddictiveStudy suggest 15% of alcohol users eventually will become dependent
Difficulty of quitting ( Dependency rated from 0 to 3 points )
Relatively easy – 1.51 points Extremely hard – 2.21 points Very hard – 1.93 points
“However, when it comes to withdrawal, alcohol is by far the worst of the three” said Mr.  J. Wesley “Wes” Boyd, MD, PhD from faculty in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Ties to Diseases ( or side effects)
  • Impaired learning and coordination
  • Sleep problems
  • Potential for addiction
  • Potential loss of IQ
  • Increased risk of chronic cough, bronchitis
  • Increased risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable people*
  • Potentially increased risk of anxiety, depression, and amotivational syndrome*
  • Cancers
  •  Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  •  Chronic bronchitis
  •  Stroke.
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  •  Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Eye diseases
  • Lower fertility in women.
  • Low bone density.
  • Periodontitis
  • Respiratory
  • Faster decline in lung function
  • Impaired lung growth
  •  Problems during pregnancy and
  • Childhood cancer (hepatoblastoma
  • Worsening asthma
  • Complications during and after surgery
  • Liver disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes complications.
  • Sexual function and menstruation
  • Eye problems
  • Birth defects
  • Bone loss.
  • Neurological complications
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of cancer

Other Problems tied with Alcohol

  • Motor vehicle accidents and other types of accidents
  • Domestic problems
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Increased likelihood of committing violent crimes
Potential Benefits
none 🙁 Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits. It may:
  • Reduce your risk of developing and dying from heart disease
  • Possibly reduce your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)
  • Possibly reduce your risk of diabetes
Even so, the evidence about the possible health benefits of alcohol isn’t certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks. What we Read more …
Some Long Term Psychological Effects in Predisposed No Long Term Psychological Effects Destroys The Brain Cells
Doesn’t Induce Violence, Even more, there is study showing that it actually reduce domestic violence Doesn’t Induce Violence Can Induce Violence – Source

Addictiveness, If Any

The first and the most obvious thing to mention when comparing three types of drugs, or substances people consume, is how likely they are to get you hooked. With addiction, the likeliness for the nasty effects to come and haunt you is almost certain, and with addiction, people don’t have to deal only with the adverse effects of long term drug usage, but with the addiction itself. Of the three drugs mentioned, cannabis is the least addictive.

Health Concerns

This is where the big difference between tobacco, alcohol and marijuana really start to show. It’s an undeniable truth that tobacco causes lung cancer, although every organ on the path it takes to get to the lungs is also at risk of developing cancer. Alcohol has been tied to esophageal and liver cancer, as well as breast cancer in women. Marijuana, on the other hand, has been used to help people fight cancer. Still, it’s needed to make it very clear that smoking is bad, and it doesn’t really matter if you’re smoking cannabis or marijuana. In both cases you’ll get some really small and nasty particles into your lungs, and those are very, very bad for you. However, because marijuana is not highly addictive, and because it’s expensive, and because there’s really no reason to chain-smoke it, it is considered to be less damaging. Plus, you can always vape marijuana, or eat it, to reduce the harm to zero, and you can’t vape tobacco, and you’ll poison yourself if you try to eat it, so don’t try it. Seriously, don’t. You could die. Of course, cancer is not the only disease tied to alcohol and tobacco, in fact, the list would probably be too long to read. On the other hand, marijuana is linked to far less health concerns, and even those are less serious. There is a case to be made that marijuana usage among those predisposed to psychosis might hasten its onset, and there have been studies showing that marijuana usage among teens isn’t that good for the development of their brains. And while tobacco is pretty safe in this zone if the damage which it causes to blood vessels that will eventually affect your brain is disregarded, alcohol can induce psychosis in completely healthy, non-predisposed people. In fact, the effects of long term alcohol use on the brain can be devastating.


There hasn’t been a single recorded case of marijuana overdose that resulted in death. On the other hand, the amount of alcohol or tobacco that will kill you can be bought in any store which sells tobacco and alcohol. The fact is that marijuana is the safest drug there is, when looked through the ratio between the amounts that are usually used, and the amounts that are needed to kill you. Alcohol is the least safe, in front of heroin and cocaine. Tobacco is just behind cocaine. In addition I’ll bring small infographic showing annual death numbers for those substances annual-death

Societal Issue

Your stereotypical pothead is someone who doesn’t really bother anyone, but also doesn’t really contribute to the society in any palpable way. Now, that stereotype isn’t always true, just like most stereotypes aren’t, but even if it was, it would still cause much less harm than the very real alcoholic who gets drunk and gets into a fight, or becomes abusive towards his or her family, or sits behind the wheel drunk. Pot and tobacco don’t make people violent, but the way alcohol reduces inhibitions in behavior of people leads to situations that end with people being harmed, or even killed. So if you take all of these adverse effects into account, and think really hard, could you find a justification for cannabis being illegal while tobacco and alcohol remain freely available?  

Written by

Never thought I'll become an enthusiastic smoker and an active promoter of the legalization "movement". I write for Private Seeds, sometimes on BuzzFeed and never for New York Times. I like traveling and I especially like to be where cannabis is legal. Soccer and especially Netherlands national team is my passion.