To Drink or to Toke? That is the Question.

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

The 1920s are over with, and so is Prohibition-era thinking. As a culture, we’ve long moved on from hating on alcohol consumption and drinking has become a mainstay for social gatherings, celebrations, and nightlife. On the other hand, cannabis has been looming in the sub-culture category for years, but man are we thrilled that it’s coming into the mainstream with recent legalizations throughout the country.

Like anything else, the unfamiliar can incite a bit of fear so we wanted to help you explore the differences between alcohol consumption and cannabis consumption. Weed has been a good friend to us here at Roam and in return, we’re here to bring the hype. If you really look at it, perhaps cannabis has been getting the short end of the stick when it comes to cultural acceptance.

Let’s Get Physiological!

Beyond the ultimately glorious truth that cannabis does not come with the hangover alcohol does (could your body be any clearer that it disagrees with the decisions you made the night before?), the difference between alcohol and cannabis can be a life and death matter. Whereas alcohol was the third-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. last year, there has never been a reported fatality from a weed overdose.

And while both alcohol and cannabis can cause emotional dependence for an individual, only alcohol can cause physical addiction—meaning one can experience withdrawal symptoms from alcohol if they suddenly discontinue heavy usage. Not cute. While medical marijuana dispensaries have been around for decades, there’s a reason you’ve never heard of a “medical alcohol bar.”

Alcohol and cannabis respectively differ in how they interact with your body. Ready for a mini neuroscience lesson? Alcohol primarily affects the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. The cerebellum is in charge of voluntary motor movement—things like speech and balance. So when you’ve had one too many and start to slur or stumble, that’s your cerebellum out of whack. The cerebral cortex runs thought and perception. While a couple drinks might lower your inhibition enough to help you cruise through an awkward first date, there’s a fine line between that relaxed state and saying that thing you shouldn’t have said to your best friend about her ex, or heading home with the not-so-cutie two barstools over. Beware of beer goggles, but there’s no such thing as “ganja goggles.” With weed, you’re far less likely to make choices that are way out of character for you.

That’s because cannabis affects the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS manages overall homeostasis throughout the body. Think of homeostasis as a tendency toward equilibrium, or the body’s method of getting things just right, Goldilocks style. Our body naturally produces its own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids (“endo” meaning “within” the body) that affect pleasure, mood, and pain. Throughout our bodies, cannabinoid receptors sit on the surface of cells and keep an ear out for changing conditions that might impact how those cells regulate. When we use weed, our ECS is flooded with plant cannabinoids that mimic and heighten the effects found within our natural system.

Weed and Wellness

Alright, enough with all that science talk. When it comes to alcohol versus cannabis there are also some key lifestyle impacts we certainly can’t overlook. First off, there’s only a certain level of productive one can be when drinking: about zero percent in our experience. But when under the influence of cannabis, you can still do yoga, meditate, clean your kitchen, and organize your closet, and brainstorm a new project. Alcohol turns a downward dog into a downturned dog and you can bet the last thing we’re doing drunk is the dishes.

While alcohol has taken the main stage when it comes to social life in the U.S, people everywhere are turning from wine-pairings to weed-pairings when it comes to dinner parties and dates. Cannabis invites conversation ranging from the philosophical and insightful to the hilarious. Alcohol might turn the conversation up a bit volume-wise, but not so much intellectually. Share a joint or pass the vape at your next party and watch that intimate conversation and connection take off.

Speaking of intimacy, it’s not just conversation cannabis revs up. When it comes to sex, cannabis enhances and alcohol numbs. Alcohol is infamous for its negative effects on sexual performance whereas weed stimulates and invigorates sensation. Next time you’re in the bedroom, would you prefer to be enhanced or numbed? Not a tough decision to make.

While we still enjoy a glass of something here or there, weed for us is the true winner when it comes to the alcohol/cannabis debate. We hope you’ll try dumping out that end-of-the-day glass of wine and opt to roll, vape, or ingest a little cannabis for a change.