Parents often lecture their teens about the harmful consequences that can lead from drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. But a new study found that teens who smoke weed have a different set of harmful effects than those who drink.

Researchers from New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research analyzed data from 7,437 high school seniors who participated in a behavioral questionnaire from 2007 to 2011.

"Nearly half of high school seniors have used marijuana in their lifetime and over two-thirds have used alcohol, but few studies have compared adverse psychosocial outcomes of alcohol and marijuana directly resulting from use," says study author Joseph Palamar, PhD. Both substances cause psychosocial impacts, but the research found that they differ between the two.

Published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the study found drinking was linked to more cases of unsafe driving.

"Compared to non-drinkers, frequent drinkers were over 13 times more likely to report that their alcohol use has led to unsafe driving. Marijuana users, compared to non-users, were three times more likely to report unsafe driving as a direct result of use," Palamar says.

Teen alcohol use was also linked to damaging romantic and friend relationships. Female teens were found to regret their actions when under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol and drug use among teens increases the risk of risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, but the study found that the teens who smoke weed have a different set of unhealthy behaviors. Teens were linked to having worse relationships with teachers or supervisors instead of their intimate relationships. Smoking teens were found to have less energy or interest and performed poorly in school or at their job. Thought they regretted their actions less than the drinkers.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that the more alcohol and marijuana were used, the more there was a risk of unhealthy outcomes. The study did not link cause or effect and could only link certain unhealthy outcomes to alcohol or marijuana use. However, the safety of smoking weed is a popular topic, especially for teens in  states like Washington and Colorado that have legalized it.

"We hope that the findings of this study will contribute to the ongoing debate on marijuana policy and its perceived harm when compared to alcohol," Palamar says.

According to a poll from Pew Research Center, in 2011, 41 percent of Americans were in favor of marijuana legalization, and by 2014, 54 percent supported reforms.                                              

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