Pot scores in popularity, as a growing number of Americans are starting to believe that marijuana is completely harmless to health, compared with sugar, alcohol and tobacco.
In a survey conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, in which 1,0000 adults were asked whether marijuana, sugar, tobacco, or alcohol is the most harmful to a person's overall health, the results were quite startling. About 49 percent of the Americans surveyed believe that tobacco was the most harmful, followed by alcohol with 24 percent, and sugar at 15 percent. Only 8 percent of the people surveyed believe marijuana was harmful. The full results have been published online.
Public perception of alcohol and tobacco have consistently been negative to varying degrees. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that about 88,000 deaths in the United States each year are caused by excessive alcohol consumption, making excessive alcohol use the third leading cause of lifestyle-related death. It is linked with serious health problems, many of them long-term, and the short-term ill effects are just as dangerous.
Tobacco, likewise, kills over 480,000 Americans each year. One in five deaths in caused by tobacco use, more than the combined deaths caused by HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, among other things. The CDC says that smoking can cause cancer in almost any part of the body, and, because it affects the entire body, it also harms a person's overall health.
However, the reputation of sugar as bad for the health is a new development, especially after it has been hailed as the new tobacco by doctors earlier this year. Considering that news of diabetes and obesity has been more frequent lately, which can come from simple routine activities such as drinking soda frequently, people are more aware of the real and present dangers of sugar. Illnesses caused by too much sugar often lead to complications such as cardiovascular disease, magnifying the danger even more.
So it seems like the Americans who participated in the survey could be on to something. Although marijuana is not completely without health risks, and is in fact rated as one of the most dangerous substances available by the Drug Enforcement Administration, there has never been any documented deaths that were a result of marijuana overdose. Too much sugar, however, could lead to a lot of problems in comparison.
"Anyone who takes a truly objective look at the evidence surrounding these substances could not possibly arrive at any other conclusion," Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Huffington Post . "The public's understanding of marijuana is more in line with the facts than ever before. Marijuana is not entirely harmless, but there is no longer any doubt that it poses far less harm to the consumer than many of the legal products engrained in American culture."