Research proves alcohol more damaging to brain than cannabis

  • Research from University of Colorado finds alcohol does more damage to brain than cannabis
  • Cannabis does not impact grey and white matter in the brain, even after years of use, unlike alcohol
  • Alcohol significantly lowers volumes of brain tissue
  • In 2015, there were 8,758 alcohol-related deaths in the UK
  • There has yet to be a fatality related to cannabis-use

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have found significant evidence that alcohol is severely more dangerous to the human brain than cannabis.

The team from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience discovered alcohol consumption is linked to lowered volumes of brain tissue, particularly white and grey matter. White matter controls communication while grey matter enables general brain function.

Researchers studied adults aged 18–55 years and adolescents aged 14–18 years with a range of alcohol and cannabis use to find out which substance was more damaging to the body’s most vital organ: the brain.

MRI scans were taken of the participants’’ brains following a 30-day period of use of varying quantities of either alcohol or cannabis.

Long-term changes to white and grey matter were found in alcohol users, especially those who had been drinking for a longer period.

Brain diagram white and grey matter

While researchers found a deterioration of white and grey matter in alcohol users, no significant changes were found in those who only used cannabis

…while marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol.”
Professor Kent E. Hutchison

Discussing the results of the study, lead researcher Professor Kent Hutchison wrote: “…while marijuana may also have some negative consequences, it definitely is nowhere near the negative consequences of alcohol.”

The team conceded, however, that more research on cannabis’ effect on brain function is needed before any solid conclusions can be made.

Discussing the variety of evidence found across the plethora of studies in cannabis’ impact on the brain, lead author Professor Hutchison to acknowledge that the more research done on cannabis, the clearer the conclusions will be:

“The point is that there’s no consistency across all of these studies in terms of the actual brain structures.”

While there is great debate among the scientific community on the potential benefits or harms of cannabis, there is no debate to be had over which narcotic is more dangerous to humans and our society. Alcohol killed 8,758 people in the UK in 2015, according to Drink Aware.

alcohol vs cannabis

No one has ever overdosed on cannabis, in the history of our existence.

Is it time to legalise access to cannabis, a far safer (by scientific fact) product than alcohol, in the UK?

MMJ will be supporting the United Patients Alliance who have organized a second Patients at Parliament protest on the 23rd February, when a bill which will reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to II will go through its second reading.

We invite all our readers to join us and help make our voices heard.

References and further Reading