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Americans Believe Alcohol is More Dangerous than Marijuana by Five-to-One Margin

Apr 07, 2014 03:16 PM EDT | By John Nassivera
Alcohol, Marijuana
Alcohol vs. Marijuana Study
A new Pew study released Wednesday shows that Americans believe that alcohol is worse for one’s health and for society than marijuana. The difference in opinion was found in a five-to-one margin.(Photo : ashton)

A new Pew study released Wednesday shows that Americans believe that alcohol is worse for one's health and for society than marijuana. The difference in opinion was found in a five-to-one margin, according to The Washington Post.

The data was broken apart demographically. While alcohol was least likely seen as more dangerous by Republicans, Hispanics and the elderly, respondents from these groups still say marijuana is more healthful by over a two-to-one margin. Blacks say alcohol is worse by an eight-to-one margin, and people under the age of 30 said the same by almost seven-to-one.

A total of 69 percent of Americans said if both were equally available, alcohol would be more harmful, while 15 percent believed marijuana was more harmful. A total of 14 percent said both or neither was more harmful than the other, The Huffington Post reported.

Regarding effects on society, 63 percent believed alcohol was worse, and 23 percent believed marijuana was worse. A total of 11 percent said both or neither was more dangerous than the other.

Excessive consumption of alcohol is linked to hazards such as liver disease, heart disease and increased cancer risks, The Huffington Post reported. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says alcohol use is responsible for about 88,000 deaths yearly in the U.S.

Marijuana still has its dangers, since excessive use can lead to respiratory issues. Research shows that smoking marijuana could lead to an early start of psychosis, and there is a concern for its use among adolescents and the effects it has on the developing brain. However, there have been no recorded deaths from overdosing on marijuana. There are also safer ways to consume marijuana, such as using a vaporizer and eating cannabis-infused edibles.

Another finding from the Pew survey is that most people believe marijuana should be legal. Most respondents are against mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes and believe the federal government should provide more treatment to drug users instead of prosecuting them, The Washington Post reported.

Mason Tvert, communications director for marijuana policy reform group the Marijuana Policy Project, said people working to keep marijuana illegal need to understand that alcohol is far worse for the public's health and society, The Huffington Post reported.

"If the goal is to maximize public health and safety, why would anyone want to prohibit adults from making the safer choice?" Tvert said. "It would be like an environmentalist fighting to prevent the proliferation of electric cars."

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