Some speculate that legal marijuana could become a safer alternative to booze here in the United States, while others argue the two substances will likely embark on a savage love affair and further contribute to the foul degradation of American society.
However, researchers in New Zealand, a country the 2013 United Nations World Drug Report found to have one of the highest rates of marijuana use in the world, say they may hold the answer to this debate. A recent drug and alcohol survey conducted by the Ministry of Health discovered that a growing number of the country’s residents seem to be progressing towards stoned living rather than continuing to drown their sorrows in the bottle.
One in seven adults in New Zealand have reportedly smoked marijuana within the past year, while nearly 50% of those surveyed admitted to, at least, getting high at some point in their life.
Medical anthropologist and lead researcher Geoff Noller says that the majority of the participants in his study appear to have a rational desire to replace alcohol with marijuana.
"A lot of people in my study found they didn't like alcohol, felt out of control when they had alcohol, so for a lot of the cannabis users, it was a way they could destress but remain in control,” he said. "There's a real interest outside of simply getting high, there's a whole culture around it."
Yet, New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell says he is somewhat perplexed by both the latest United Nations World Drug Report and the New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey because he says alcohol has always been a priority in the social and debaucherous lives of Kiwis.
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws president Chris Fowlie says that the latest pro-pot statistics are not supernatural since more people are in fact finding out that marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol.
"They're making a decision to use something that works for them and is safe for them," he said.