Why Yes To Alcohol But No To Cannabis?


While alcohol influenced the death of more than 200,000 people in 2019 and is a legalized drug, cannabis did not kill anyone and is illegal.

In 2019, there were 452,000 deaths linked to drug use, according to the World Health Organization. Of these, 19.1% were caused by opiates, 1.9% by cocaine, 1.2% by amphetamines, and 9.6% by other substances. In turn, 44.5% of all of them (more than 200,000 dead) were due to either cirrhosis or liver cancer, both of which were mostly related to alcohol abuse. The rest of the mortality related to drug use was due to HIV / AIDS or self-harm.

Cannabis Consumption Statistics

As we see, no death is directly or indirectly attributable to the consumption of cannabis. And not because the popularity of this drug is a minority in our societies: in fact, it is the most widely consumed illegal substance throughout the planet. In 2019 alone, 192.2 million people – 3.9% of the world population between 15 and 64 years old – used cannabis; in contrast, 34.3 million people (0.7% of the global population between 15 and 64 years) consumed opiates; 34.2 million took amphetamines (0.7%), and 18.2 million used cocaine (0.4%).

Cannabis leaf

Alcohol Risks

At first glance, it should be striking that a drug such as alcohol, indirectly responsible for 44.5% of total deaths from the use of this type of substance, is legal in almost any of its uses; or that many opiates, directly responsible for 19% of all drug deaths, are legally accessible by prescription despite the significant risks involved, and yet cannabis, whose death rate is virtually nil, remains illegal in both its medicinal and recreational use in many Western legal systems.

Marijuana (2)

Cannabis Risks

There is not the slightest coherence behind such legal differentiation except perhaps one: that alcohol is a drug that the vast majority of society has already integrated in one way or another into their lives and that therefore already enjoys a large degree of social acceptance, while cannabis, despite being the most widely consumed illegal substance, is still relatively minor and, consequently, continues to be covered by a certain prohibitionist social taboo.

Penalize Alcohol Consumption

But, leaving aside such prejudiced arbitrariness, there are only two coherent positions on this issue: the first would be to penalize alcohol consumption – even reaching its prohibition – in order to provide it with a legal status analogous to that of another drug, such as cannabis, it is appreciably less dangerous; the second, to decriminalize cannabis to legally equate it to another substance that, like alcohol, has already been decriminalized and is notably more dangerous. The liberal position, of course, is to decriminalize cannabis: Namely, so that each of us can do with our own body what we want as long as we do not violate the rights of others. For a long time, however, the world seemed to be moving in a totally opposite direction from a liberal: the state war on drugs was relentless and, in any case, the political objective was to restrict the use of more and more substances – including tobacco and alcohol— not that of decriminalizing that of at least some of them.


Little by little, then, freedom in the matter of psychoactive substances is making its way. Each of us must have the last word on our bodies, not the politicians at the head of paternalistic and liberticidal states.

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