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How the Government Reinforces America’s Biggest Legal Drug Threat

We’ve all heard that a glass of red wine a day is good for your heart, but let’s face it, most people don’t drink that way. The fact is that nearly 17 million Americans have alcohol use disorder—nearly one in seven adults.

Alcohol is responsible for 90,000 deaths each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control, making it second only to tobacco on America’s list of deadliest drugs.

We also know that even moderate drinkers have a greater risk of heart and liver disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke, stomach ailments, several types of cancer, problems managing diabetes, high blood pressure and many other conditions, according to the Journal of American Medical Association.

And if all of this weren’t enough, alcohol is addictive, unlike marijuana, despite the DEA’s continued misinformation and insistence on labeling pot a Schedule I drug “with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

In a new survey, published by the Washington Post, more than three-quarters of Americans identify alcohol as a serious problem in their community, far more than other drugs.

Marijuana is on the bottom of the list.

Results of the survey, done by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs, underscored one of the main problems with our failed drug policies: alcohol is considered separate from other drugs and is dealt with by different government agencies. By maintaining these distinctions—based on alcohol being legal—the government perpetuates the fiction that alcohol should be in a separate category and, hence, not as dangerous as drugs. 

But in fact, alcohol is a drug—an intoxicant that produces a psychoactive state—regardless of how the government chooses to classify it. The government’s linguistic distinction to separate alcohol from drugs is obviously aimed at evoking a negative connotation of drugs and an acceptable one for alcohol, regardless of the latter’s devastating health outcomes.

Isn’t it time for policymakers to pay more attention to public health and safety, clearly threatened by alcohol and tobacco use, and stop the war on harmless marijuana? 

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