Cannabis has come a long way in helping shape our public health perception over the past few years. More people than ever are in favor of marijuana legalization, and they are asking why it was even prohibited in the first place. But overcoming 80 years of harmful propaganda and lies is not going to happen overnight. Despite recent progress, marijuana still carries a heavy stigma for a lot of people.
For anybody who is still on the fence concerning the safety of cannabis consumption, here are six things far more dangerous than weed that people consume every day without fear of legal percussion or stigma.
Studies tell us that too much red meat increases the risk of cancer. Luckily, there are plenty of other foods where you can get your protein, like hemp! Americans eat a lot of red meat, and our desire for more has grown considerably over the past few decades. According to the USDA, the average American in 2000 was eating 57 more pounds per year than in the 1950s. That hefty increase hasn’t come without consequences.
When we eat too much red meat, it can allow for all sorts of health issues to manifest. For example, red meat consumption has been linked as an underlying factor not only in coronary heart disease, but also diabetes and several types of cancer. It gets worse. American beef has actually been banned by other countries, most notably in Europe, for containing too many unhealthy additives, particularly hormones.
Add to this the environmentally destructive and unsustainable factory farming practices that produce most of America’s red meat, and it becomes obvious that a value meal from McDonald’s is more worrisome than any offshoot strain of Green Crack that you can imagine.
First and foremost, alcohol is probably the most ubiquitous, yet destructive, vice in America.
Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes. (CDC) In the U.S. alone we see tens of thousands of deaths resulting from alcohol use every year –be it from overdoses or drunk-driving accidents. Aside from the loss of precious life, the economic impact of this tragic statistic tallies up to hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
On the contrary, Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, recently released data published in the American Journal of Public Health which shows that, “drivers between the ages of 21 and 40 who resided in states that permitted medical marijuana use were approximately half as likely to test positive for opioids as were similar drivers in jurisdictions that did not such programs in place.” You can find Paul’s recent Green Flower LIVE class here.
Booze is also a factor in many crimes – up to a third of them, in fact, according to some studies. The legalization of cannabis meanwhile seems to be lowering the crime rate. But the big difference between cannabis and alcohol is that booze is only about 100 times more dangerous. Consuming too many drinks can kill you within minutes – whereas ingesting too much pot, while perhaps irresponsible, has no lethal effects on your system.
While we’re touching on deadly addictions, we have to mention sugar. Sugar is so prevalent in our diets that most people are clueless as to how much they actually consume – and how dangerous it is. On average Americans consume 765 grams of sugar every five days – equivalent to 17 cans of soda. Sugar has some of the most addictive qualities of any consumable, which is partially why it’s one of the biggest contributors to the growing obesity epidemic.
Sugar can even morph the way our brains function, and it leads to hundreds of thousands of deaths every year from the slate of diseases it causes. Some of the biggest health issues are obesity and heart disease, which require years of care and drive up healthcare costs. If you really want to protect your family, you’ll head to the pantry right away and toss out the Cocoa Puffs.
Though tobacco use has been steadily going down for the past few decades, it’s still very much a permanent fixture of many people’s daily lives. Yet it’s common knowledge that tobacco kills through a variety of means, not to mention its huge economic toll on healthcare costs and lost productivity.
Smokers cost employers $6,000 a year. That is insane. The government even forces tobacco makers to alter their marketing tactics and label their products with “smoking kills” warnings. Even second-hand smoke can lead to significant health issues. But the myriad of chemicals and dangerous additives that make cigarettes addictive are nowhere to be found in cannabis.
Like alcohol, few people seem to think cigarettes should be outlawed while the country is still somewhat divided on marijuana legalization. You can pick up your favorite brand of cancer sticks at the local gas station, but if you get caught with a joint in the wrong state, you’re going to jail.
Dyed Foods and Drinks
Children are probably going to have more run-ins with these dyes in their diets than adults simply because food and drink manufacturers know that kids love color. One lesser-known danger lurking in your kitchen is food dye – used in a huge assortment of products to give them a more aesthetically-pleasing presentation. While you may have seen ‘Yellow 5’ listed among the ingredients of your favorite snack, most of us assume that it’s harmless.
But the truth is that common food dyes have been linked to many ongoing health issues, and food scientists have, for years, been calling for their removal. There is no benefit from having those dyes present – only risk.
Some studies have found that these food dyes can lead to the development of tumors, cancers, hyperactivity, and even learning disabilities in children. If you’re eating or drinking something that is the same color as antifreeze, let that be a subtle message that you and your family should probably not be consuming it.
Anything Containing Partially-Hydrogenated Oil
Partially-hydrogenated oils make foods last longer, but they shorten your own lifespan. Not a very fair trade-off if you ask me.
If you’re familiar with partially-hydrogenated oil, you’re probably aware that you should avoid it like the plague. But that’s incredibly difficult because, like sugar, it’s found in many top-selling supermarket items.
Partially-hydrogenated oils are used in tons of foods to act as a preservative. The problem is that these oils are awful for you – and pack in a ton of fat (trans-fats) and artery-clogging cholesterol. This particular public health situation has become so untenable that the FDA has finally put its foot down.
In June of 2015, the FDA ordered a dramatic decrease in the amount of oils allowed in food production. It’s expected that this measure will reduce the number of heart attacks, curb heart disease rates, and help with the obesity crisis.
With that in mind, it may prove true that a bong hit is less destructive to your body than eating a Twinkie or even your favorite peanut butter.
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