What’s Behind the Trend of Ditching Alcohol in Favor of Pot?

Dry January is an annual campaign designed to encourage people to abstain from alcohol consumption for the first month of the year. It is observed in the UK, the U.S., and elsewhere. Strangely enough, a growing acceptance of recreational marijuana is leading Dry January participants to ditch alcohol in favor of pot.

A recent survey among 938 participants reveals that 21% of those observing Dry January have made the conscious decision to use marijuana instead. Meanwhile, 33% have made the decision to not replace alcohol with another substance.

The Point of Dry January

Observing Dry January by setting aside alcohol in favor of marijuana seems to go against the entire point of the observance. Dry January’s goal is to help people take a break from alcohol in the hope that they will see that they don’t really need it to be happy. Ultimately, organizers want to see people drink less.

Why? Because we know excess alcohol consumption is harmful to human health. We know alcohol leads to broken families. It contributes to crime. It’s linked to all sorts of accidents that injure and kill. All of the negative effects associated with alcohol are due to one thing and one thing only: it’s ability to intoxicate.

Marijuana intoxicates, too. It may be a different kind of intoxication, but it is intoxication, nonetheless. It doesn’t make sense to decry one form of intoxication while promoting another. It doesn’t make sense to cut down on alcohol consumption while increasing marijuana consumption.

The Reasons for Intoxication

Some in the pro-cannabis movement will undoubtedly celebrate the fact that people are observing Dry January by substituting marijuana for alcohol. But is either type of intoxication a good thing? Perhaps we would be better off putting our efforts into understanding why people choose to get intoxicated to begin with.

For the record, none of what is being said here applies to medical cannabis. There are millions of patients whose qualifying conditions are successfully treated with cannabis. According to Utah dispensary Beehive Farmacy, chronic pain is one of the more common conditions. Other conditions include PTSD, cancer pain, and seizure disorders.

There are legitimate medical uses for cannabis. Likewise for opioids, antidepressants, and an entire range of other drugs with psychotropic properties. What is inherently different about marijuana that it should be treated so casually?

Happiness Shouldn’t Be Drug Dependent

Obvious physical and mental health issues aside, a person’s happiness should not be drug dependent. Ask yourself this: if you can go the entire month of January without drinking alcohol and still be happy, can’t you also be happy without using marijuana?

If the answer is ‘no’, marijuana decriminalization is the least of your concerns. Likewise, the inability to lead a happy and productive life without alcohol signifies a problem requiring professional help. Perhaps one of the goals of Dry January is to point that out to people who would otherwise not be able to see it themselves.

Cannabis Isn’t the Answer

We still have a lot to figure out about legal marijuana. There are moral and ethical issues to address. There are regulatory questions that need answers. In all likelihood, marijuana will eventually be as legal as alcohol. Still, cannabis is not the answer to the alcohol problem.

Substituting one intoxicating substance for another doesn’t get to the root of why people have the need to be intoxicated. And until that issue is adequately addressed, it really doesn’t matter what substance a person uses to feel good. Intoxication’s realities are something we need to give more attention to.