There’s a chart that has been floating around the Internet for a while comparing various health effects of soda and marijuana. The agenda doesn’t appear to be pro-pot as much as it is pointing out societal hypocrisy and the serious dangers associated with foods most of us have no moral issue with.
I would be the first to get in line with people who think the demonizing of marijuana in Western culture has always been taken to an extreme level. However, if you think it somehow comes without any serious health risks, you need to consider putting the bong down for a moment and read on. Let’s take a look at how soda and marijuana really compare:
Carcinogens – Let’s start with the biggest hole in the chart’s argument: that there are no carcinogens in marijuana. According to Donald Tashkin, MD, a researcher at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, there are as many or more carcinogens and co-carcinogens in marijuana smoke as in cigarettes. Inhaling carcinogens for a long period of time can’t be harmless, can it?
Health Risks – The chart probably does have a point here. As hard as it may be for some to believe, soda is probably worse for you than pot… with long-term consistent use, that is. Obesity, diabetes and all the health problems associated with it? It’s a ticket to an early grave. You may even have brittle bones to deal with. There is some debate over long-term health effects of marijuana use, but the fact that it’s even debatable means marijuana wins in this match up.
Consumption Recommendations – The chart says that doctors recommend “no” soda consumption, whereas there is medicinal use for marijuana. This may hold true for full-sugar soda, but moderate diet soda consumption is not quite as demonized. You should still minimize diet soda and it would be preferable to make other choices.
Addiction – The points in comparing addictiveness are pretty solid. Sugar and caffeine are addictive substances. There is a little more controversy over the health effects of high fructose corn syrup, but most studies only point towards bad news (like that it may feed cancer cells). Marijuana can be psychologically addictive as well, but long-term addiction evidence is a little, um, foggy.
None of the positives (or neutrals for that matter) associated with pot smoking should be considered an endorsement for rampant use. If you glean anything from this comparison, let it be that it shines a bright light on how bad soda really is for your health. Probably even worse than pot!