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Cannabis Vs. Alcohol

Well here we go, that age old battle is back in the headlines. Now, if you’re a smoker rather than a drinker like myself, you "know" what I "know" and you also know what I’m about to say in this blog post. "Let’s take it back to 88" like I like to say, don’t mind me, it’s a New York street thing! Anyway, for years on top of years, there has been a negative stigma associated with marijuana and a glorified admiration for alcohol. From the days of prohibition and the illegal speak easies, to the present day bottle popping at the club. Alcohol has always been a symbol of status, swag , and celebration. While marijuana has been taboo, low key, mind altering and considered a “Gateway Drug”, “The bad thing to do”. Let’s make sense out of nonsense. Consider how many people have been killed, injured, abused, and sick due to alcohol. Families that have been broken apart, mistakes that have been made, sexual deviance (Good or bad) , embarrassment, and damaged livers etc. etc. Alcoholism is now literally considered a disease for crying out loud! Is marijuana still the bad guy? The same marijuana that mellows you out, makes you feel euphoric, never killed anyone and ( if so I’ve never heard of anyone). The same marijuana that helps you become creative, gives you the munchies, helps people with eating disorders, insomnia, pain, stress, anxiety, helps kids with seizers and autism. The hypocrisy is real, people! It’s 2022 and marijuana is still federally illegal and alcohol has been legal way before 1922, a hundred years ago. Prohibition was a joke. More alcohol was sold during prohibition than any other time in America! Well, how the tables have turned. Here we go again, marijuana to the rescue! Studies are showing that marijuana substitution is reducing alcoholism and alcohol related deaths. It seems the drinkers that decide to put down the bottle and pick up the joint, do not suffer the dangers of alcohol and all the negative harmful effects that result from having “one too many drinks. As for me, I’ll stick to the bad guy! In the immortal words of RUN-DMC. “Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good!” - Oz

Read All About it Here –

Alcohol is killing more Americans than ever. Here’s how to save them. Opioids aren’t the only drugs killing Americans. A disturbing study published last week in JAMA Network Open revealed that alcohol-induced deaths in the US spiked alarmingly between 2000 and 2016—and are now climbing faster than ever.

Annual alcohol-caused deaths among American men rose 78% in that span, from 14,979 in 2000 to 25,213 in 2016. Deaths among women more than doubled, from 4,648 to 9,644.

Those aren’t deaths merely correlated with alcohol, like drunk driving fatalities. They’re deaths caused directly by the ravages of drink: alcohol-induced pancreatitis, liver disease, cardiomyopathy, and alcohol poisoning.

Some heavy drinkers recover their health through the Alcoholic Anonymous method—12 steps and complete sobriety. But the AA way isn’t for everyone. As more research, data, and personal experience come to light, we’re seeing many adults improve their health through alternative paths of harm reduction.

What’s harm reduction?

It’s a set of ideas and interventions that reduce the harms of problematic substance use. It often involves stepping down from a more harmful drug to a less harmful one—and not necessarily an embrace of complete abstinence. In its mildest form it may involve moving from coffee to tea. At the other extreme: moving from heroin to methadone.

Opponents often mock this as simply swapping one addiction for another. It’s not. And as cannabis legalization continues to expand, it’s playing a growing role in harm reduction strategies—especially when it comes to alcohol.

A mystery tipster

I was reminded of that fact a couple weeks ago at a cannabis conference in San Francisco. During a presentation at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) gathering, I mentioned the surprising popularity of Leafly’s guide to going ‘Cali sober.’ That’s when people don’t drink alcohol but do enjoy cannabis.

A white-haired gentleman approached me after I left the stage. “You shouldn’t be surprised that so many people are interested,” he said. “It’s not a new concept. In fact, Tod Mikuriya did some of the earliest work on that here in California in the 1970s.”

I didn’t realize until the next day that the tipster was the legendary Fred Gardner, editor of the cannabis website O’Shaughnessy’s. Part underground zine, part medical journal, and part historical archive, O’Shaughnessy’s has served as the OG voice of the medical marijuana movement since its first issue in 2003.

Yes, ‘Cali sober’ started in California

About the trend of Cali sober, Gardner spoke the truth. Back in 1970 Dr. Tod Mikuriya, a Northern California physician, published an article titled Cannabis Substitution: An Adjunctive Therapeutic Tool in the Treatment of Alcoholism. A 49-year-old patient of his, whom he called Mrs. A., came to him with a long history of alcohol abuse. She happened to mention her use of marijuana as well, and the fact that she decreased her booze intake when she smoked. Click The Link Above for the entire article

So Mikuriya gave her advice that in 1970 was truly radical: “I instructed her to substitute cannabis daily—any time she felt the urge to partake in alcohol,” he wrote.

Guess what: It worked. Five months later, Mrs. A’s health was on the upswing. “Her appearance, complexion, posture and energy level have gradually improved,” Mikuriya noted. “She is afforded a new awareness and control over her life, instead of being continually sick and intoxicated and acting out in a maladaptive fashion.”

“I can in no way claim a total cure,” Mikuriya cautioned. But “for selected alcoholics the substitution of smoked cannabis for alcohol may be of marked rehabilitative value.”

That was 1970. Years later Mikuriya would become one of the most courageous—and persecuted—leaders of California’s medical marijuana movement. But he never forgot the curious case of Mrs. A.

Abstinence isn’t the only way

In 2003, he published a follow-up paper, Cannabis as a Substitute for Alcohol. In a harm reduction regimen adopted by 92 alcoholic patients, Mikuriya found that all 92 reported some benefit. “Even if [cannabis] use is daily,” he wrote, replacing alcohol with cannabis “reduces harm because of its relatively benign side-effect profile.” Cannabis doesn’t damage the liver, spleen, esophagus, or digestive tract, as alcohol does. “Sleep and appetite are restored, ability to focus and concentrate is enhanced, energy and activity levels are improved, pain and muscle spasms are relieved.”

Abstinence-only advocates can be zealous and confrontational. A recent tweet by Leo Beletsky, a leading drug policy expert and a professor of both law and public health, pointed out that alcohol harm reduction exists and works. An abstinence advocate responded by mocking the idea as “cuckoo” and heralding full sobriety as “the only way!” In recovery culture this is not an atypical response.

Exists in cloud cuckoo land, abstinence is the only way!

— Mick (@Incognitomick) February 23, 2020

The vast majority of the institutional medical world agrees with him. Most public health agencies still view any cannabis use as problematic cannabis use. Sobriety is counseled as the one true path.

Here and there, though, new thinking around harm reduction is taking hold.

Official recognition slow in coming

Public health officials now recognize that medication assisted treatment (MAT) offers great hope to people struggling with opioid use disorder. Methadone maintenance programs, born in the late 1970s, have long reduced heroin-related deaths. Now the next generation of opioid MAT, extended-release naltrexone, is allowing patients to use a single monthly injection to block the body’s opioid receptors, reduce cravings, and prevent relapse.

Some opioid treatment programs are also using cannabis as an exit drug, with research-proven success. The controlled use of marijuana eases a patient’s withdrawal from opioids while providing relief from the conditions that led to opioid use in the first place, like chronic pain. Researchers have found that opioid prescription rates are 6% lower in medical and rec-legal states. Leafly began covering this phenomenon in 2017. In just three years the concept has moved from an idea mocked as “stupid” to an increasingly accepted recovery strategy.

Consumers in legal states already embracing it

‘Cali sober’ is the next step in mainstream harm reduction. There are data sets hinting that some consumers are already going Cali, perhaps without even realizing it. A 2017 University of Connecticut study found a 12% decline in alcohol sales in states that legalized medical marijuana between 2006 and 2015. A 2018 report by Cowen & Company found that legal adult-use states saw a 13% lower rate of binge drinking than states that prohibit all cannabis.


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