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Why is Alcohol Legal?

Discussion in 'Alcohol' started by sarahm, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. sarahm

    sarahm Member

    According to the CDC excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S.. Deaths from marijuana use, on the other hand, are rare. Yet marijuana, not alcohol, is considered a schedule 1 narcotic, which is defined by the Controlled Substances Act as the following:
    1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
    Why is marijuana on this list but not alcohol?
    menace likes this.
  2. Joseph

    Joseph Community Organizer Community Listener

    Hi sarahm,

    The answer is complex and widely debated and spans numerous political, economic, social and historic variables. A quick historical review of alcohol prohibition and marijuana criminalization/legalization can reveal quite a bit about why alcohol is legal, and why marijuana is illegal. Based specifically on the three criteria of the Controlled Substances Act, it indeed defies common sense for alcohol to be legal. It has a high potential for abuse, it has no conventionally accepted medical benefits, and alcohol isn't used "safely" under medical supervision.

    In a "perfect world" would alcohol be illegal or would marijuana be legal?
    dejanee22, menace and sarahm like this.
  3. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    I think in a "perfect world", we wouldn't ask ourselves why sharing the road with a drunk driver is more terrifying than sharing it with someone smoking marijuana. Driving under the influence of any type of mind/mood altering substance (including marijuana and many prescription medications, even taken as directed) is obviously a poor choice, but just consider the fact that every hour someone is killed and twenty more are injured in crashes involving drunk drivers.

    Every. Single. Hour.

    How exactly does the Controlled Substance Abuse Act define a "lack of accepted safety"?
    It's almost a little insulting to read that line, isn't it? :)
    dejanee22, menace, soberdoug and 3 others like this.
  4. sarahm

    sarahm Member

    Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. RecoveryMentor, good point about looking into the history of prohibition and criminalization. That would definitely be a good place to start :) In my perfect world nothing would be illegal and we would have the freedom to choose what we put into our bodies without being criminalized either way.

    That being said I also concur with Jen. Although I'm a fan of freedom of choice we can't ignore the hypocrisy in the Controlled Substances Act by not including alcohol and what is the government doing to prevent all of those drunk driving accidents if they are not criminalizing alcohol? It was totally written in another time and needs to be updated, but how did they even miss it then? (1970). That's when everyone smoked cigarettes also. Maybe that says something about the perception during that era?
    Zyni, menace, Jen S. and 1 other person like this.
  5. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Hey Sarah,
    I'm on Team Freedom of Choice right along with you! Unfortunately...I see an overwhelming amount of hypocrisy in every way we criminalize substances/enforce punishment within our justice system. RecoveryMentor really hit the nail on the head mentioning the span of political, economic, social and historic variables. I believe there are serious flaws not only pertaining to alcohol and marijuana but literally across the board.

    Just reading the facts about America's "War on Drugs" is enough to upset me. You can read all about it here on the Drug Policy Alliance website, but here are the biggies:
    • Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000
    • Number of people arrested in 2012 in the U.S. on nonviolent drug charges: 1.55 million
    • Number of Americans incarcerated in 2012 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,228,400 or 1 in every 108 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world
    Don't even get me started on what I think we could do with that more than $51,000,000,000 every year, either.
    I am a big fan of rehabilitation versus punishment and an even bigger fan of spending money on what I believe matters more than the War on Drugs (education would be one of those - I don't know about you, but I am totally embarrassed to read where the United States ranks among the rest of the world here).

    TLDR: The whole system is bonkers!
    I'm not sure if a solution exists, but I do believe it could always be much, much worse. :)
  6. soberdoug

    soberdoug Member

    Our government doesn't care if people kill themselves. It's all about money and politics. Not to say we shouldn't speak up and make changes in laws but sometimes its hard to worry about the law when your addicted. Addicts are going to do whatever they do regardless of the law anyway.
    Zyni, Lackluster and menace like this.
  7. menace

    menace Community Moderator

    Thanks for sharing these stats, Jen! These figures get me worked up also. Especially, the lack of focus on education and rehabilitation. It's an epidemic in our culture and I believe we need to keep having this conversation and keep fighting to change the system however we can...small wins!
    Jen S. and Joseph like this.
  8. bocat

    bocat Member

    Alcohol is definitely way more dangerous than "weed". You already know most of what they do is bull crap. Marijuana is not legal because they can't tax it. It would be a very big business and i would imagine they would want apart of that money. Alcohol is legal because they can tax it and make money period. They don't care about you or about which is more dangerous to people it seems.
    Zyni likes this.
  9. FuZyOn

    FuZyOn Community Champion

    Yeah, it's all about business here. It's really sad that you can even die because people who are influenced by those substances can't control themselves anymore.
    I think alcohol and Marijuana are both equally dangerous because it alters your thinking and you can make some stupid things while you're on those substances.
  10. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    I dislike that marijuana is always juxtaposed against alcohol in demonstrating the harmful effects of the devil's drink. It turns a discussion about how dangerous and harmful alcohol is to society into an argument for the legalization of pot, which, in my opinion, is not a pressing issue of the day, whichever way the law happens to turn on that issue.

    It's more important to focus on establishing the dangers and at-large social consequences of alcohol, than it is to help potheads indulge themselves.
  11. Allen24

    Allen24 Active Contributor

    I agree that the system is absolutely confusing and contradictory. I also agree that alcohol is much more dangerous than marijuana.

    Unfortunately there's not much the government can do regarding the use of alcohol. Alcoholic drinks have been created and consumed by humans for centuries. As seen with prohibition, people will seek out alcohol in other ways if the sale is prohibited by law. It's quite easy to brew beer or make wine or other substances in your own home. This is also the case with marijuana. At least with the system now, the government has some sort of control over regulation and sales.
  12. toppot44

    toppot44 Member

    It is legal because the tax revenues are huge. The fact is - and this is well documented - that alcohol and tobacco are legal and they cause more harm financially, emotionally, and physically than ALL ILLEGAL DRUGS combined.
    In contrast, they will not legalize pot because hemp (which has no drug value) can replace trees, for cotton, and building materials, as well as replace petroleum to make plastic products and thousands of other products. There are major government lobbyists for petroleum, textiles, forestry and many others that would be hurt by this.
    Also, the pharmaceutical industry would be greatly harmed, since pot can be used as a pain killer, appetite stimulant, and to treat other ailments. After a while, people would learn to grow their own and NO government agency would see a dime of tax revenue.
    Ask any high school kid which is easier to get, pot or alcohol, and they will say pot. Why? because alcohol is regulated, pot and all those other "bad" drugs are not
    Zyni likes this.
  13. Muraki

    Muraki Member

    Personally I think because of the money.

    Now everybody has his own claims so these are mine. Since alcohol has been around for centuries it is known all over the world and also used as well. Since it's bought in stores that means people are earning a living of selling it, and over the time that has become a big industry where not just millions of jobs would be lost but also a very big percentage of all country's income so it has to stay alive. The fact of it taking lives is overseen mercilessly.

    That being just my opinion though.
  14. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    The same could be said about cigarettes, though. And look at what's happened to that giant industry.

    Cigarettes are dangerous to your health, but they're not going to cause you to ruin a family, or kill somebody on the road. If it is decided that the national wellbeing can be secured by targeting and disemboweling the tobacco industry, then why can't the same be done to booze?
    Muraki likes this.
  15. Muraki

    Muraki Member

    REALLY good question but you are thinking with a moral.

    There is no moral in the government, just simple money. If they really cared enough to loose money in order to save lives than this world wouldn't be in the situation that it is, don't you think? Maybe I am not objective enough or am just putting the blame on the government instead on the people but still that is just my opinion.
  16. soberdoug

    soberdoug Member

  17. vennybunny

    vennybunny Member

    It may seem hard to imagine, but at one point, cocaine was legal. It seems obvious to us now that it should be illegal, but I would bet a lot of money that even then, they had trouble banning it. People don't like things being taken from them.

    In my country there is also some movements to put a ban on alcohol, and some of them have been successful. I actually live in a city where it is illegal to purchase alcohol in stores after 8pm. For you to be able to sell alcohol after this, a special permit has to be secured. A lot of restaurants and bars still serve, but just removing the convenience of it, I think helps a lot in curbing accidents.
  18. Allen24

    Allen24 Active Contributor

    I don't think making alcohol illegal is going to do away with it or the problems it causes. Pot usage is rampant and it's illegal in most states. The most the government can do (similar to vennybunny's post) is put regulations in place to prevent accidents and such.
  19. Lackluster

    Lackluster Active Contributor

    People also tend to forget alcohol is easy to make. A packet of baker's yeast, a liter of grape juice, and a week make a bottle of wine. These are things a five year old could buy. Of course, making hard liquors like moonshine is much more difficult, it's still pretty easy to do compared to growing pot.

    Black markets thrive on bans. The saddest, but most realistic option is just to legalize these substances and make getting help easier. The stigma that addicts face make it harder for them to turn to people who want to help them. Legalization is the quickest means to getting help to those who need it.
  20. Profit5500

    Profit5500 Senior Contributor

    I mean I think people just drink alcohol since its like a coping mechanism. I think its just legal because its a major influence on our society. Many people drink it since they think its the way to live.