Marijuana use is safer than alcohol, tobacco, and multiple other substances, scientists reveal, and legalizing cannabis may be a more reasonable approach than the current prohibition.
The argument about the safety of marijuana and alcohol isn't a new issue. But it's the first time scientists have assessed the potential risks of the drugs in a more quantitative and in-depth way.
According to the findings, the dangers of cannabis 'may have been overestimated in the past.' At the same time, alcohol risks had been 'underestimated.'
The study published in the Scientific Reports compared the potential deaths caused by recreational use of 10 drugs.
The drugs include marijuana, tobacco, heroin, alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine, diazepam, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and methadone.
Researchers discovered that marijuana has the lowest mortality risks and is safer, by far, than the commonly used tobacco and alcohol, and other drug substances in the study.
Dirk Lachenmeier, the report author, told NBC News that the findings confirmed the "earlier results of other study groups [but] with completely different methodology."
Although Lachenmeier's results may not be surprising, he reported that "the absolute differences in riskiness between substances" were higher than expected.
The new study has come as more states in the United States are pushing for the legalization of cannabis.
By January 2019, ten states in the US had legalized marijuana for adults, while 33 states had allowed its use for medical use.
In an email statement, Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project said:
"2019 could be a banner year for legalization via state legislatures."
"Several states across multiple regions of the country are strongly considering ending prohibition and regulating marijuana for adult use."
"A growing number of state lawmakers and governors are either getting behind these efforts or coming to the realization that they cannot hold them up much longer."
"The steady growth of public support we've been seeing around the country will likely translate into some major state-level victories for marijuana policy reform."
For years, medical marijuana and legalization advocates have argued that cannabis is safer than alcohol.
The advocates have criticized the hypocritical for allowing massive marketing, selling, and alcohol consumption while banning marijuana.
The use of drugs, such as tobacco, is the leading preventable death cause in the US. Chronic alcohol has also been linked to numerous health problems, such as cancer and heart diseases.
Although marijuana has fewer health risks, researchers have found that prolonged usage of the substance can cause lung problems, early-onset psychosis, and dependence.
In another study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, regular marijuana users can lose an average of six IQ points by adulthood.
Despite the risks of marijuana, it's much safer than tobacco and alcohol.