If given the option of only one or the other, more Americans would prefer legal cannabis over legal alcohol. That's according to an American Addiction Centers survey of 1,004 participants aged 18 to 80 on diverse topics concerning cannabis and alcohol
The headlining question? If you had to choose only one, do you prefer legal alcohol or legal cannabis? Fifty-seven percent said they would rather have legal cannabis. In what might be a surprise to many, those who don't drink alcohol are more likely to support cannabis legalization (70 percent) than those who do (56 percent). Likewise, 30 percent of non-tokers would prohibit cannabis, while 38 percent of non-drinkers would ban booze.
In terms of the perceived dangers of each substance, participants viewed alcohol as being "25 percent more dangerous" than cannabis. These dangers include the perceived addictiveness of each substance, yet the top concern related to alcohol was public behavior, not addiction. Public behavior was also the top concern for cannabis but to a much lesser extent. Participants were asked about 10 perceived dangers in total, and alcohol was viewed as more dangerous in every category.
The survey also asked about motivations for drinking alcohol and consuming cannabis. To "inspire creativity" was one of the leading reasons for cannabis use at 37 percent, compared to 18 percent for alcohol. Additionally, participants noted inclinations towards doing more while consuming cannabis, including working out and having sex. Other motivations for cannabis use included coping with stress (41 percent), seeking comfort (29 percent) and falling asleep (37 percent).
More people said they consumed alcohol (58 percent) than cannabis (34 percent) to relax, but the addiction researchers noted, "While alcohol may provide an immediate sense of anxiety or tension relief, there are serious dangers associated with self-medication. Drinking alcohol has been linked to increased social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and general dependence and addiction."
Despite these favorable views of cannabis over alcohol, respondents claimed they're more likely to lose respect for people from all walks of life, from religious leaders to parents, who use cannabis than they would for someone who drinks. For example, 31 percent would lose respect for a U.S. president who smoked cannabis compared to 15 percent for a president that consumes alcohol. This finding demonstrates the extent to which negative cannabis stigma still permeates society.
The lone exception came in the case of pregnant women. Participants were more likely to lose respect (by eight points) for someone drinking during pregnancy than for consuming cannabis.
Photos by Vahe Abed.