The narrative that marijuana is a gateway drug consumed problematically has shifted in the past few years. As more and more states are legalizing cannabis usage, the stigma around marijuana consumption is changing for the better. One argument in support of marijuana usage theorizes that alcohol consumption is worse than marijuana in basically every aspect. It’s true that marijuana consumption is not entirely without risk or harm. After all, what is? However, studies have shown that while alcohol is the legal and normalized substance, it is actually more dangerous and harmful than marijuana. Plus, even though marijuana can be used recreationally as a way to relax or friends or by yourself, it also has additional medicinal benefits that alcohol doesn’t.

Alcohol has certain negative effects on consumers that marijuana does not. For example, many people have died from alcohol use. Of course, your average cocktail or beer here doesn’t cause death by alcohol. But alcohol, by nature, has certain addictive qualities that can lead to alcohol abuse. In turn, alcohol abuse can lead to life-threatening issues, such as liver failure or various cancers. So yes, it is most certainly possible to drink yourself to death. In 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes. Yet, there have been no reported fatal marijuana overdoses.

A common myth regarding marijuana is that it causes brain damage and kills brain cells. Research has proved that to be incorrect, however. An increasing number of studies has shown that marijuana actually contains some neuroprotective properties, which means that it actually works to preserve the brain rather than harm it. Furthermore, the government previously insisted that marijuana use led to an increased risk of neck and head cancers, but it proved to a faulty claim that was debunked in a 2009 study.

Speaking of diseases, it is worth noting that alcohol use can lead to the development of cancer. At this point, it’s no secret that alcohol abuse is linked to a number of different cancers, including cancers of the colon, stomach, esophagus, lungs, liver, pancreas, and prostate. Marijuana, on the other hand, has not been conclusively connected to any kind of cancer. Deborah Korenstein, chief of the General Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, says, “The unfortunate short answer is that we just don’t really know that much. There were problems with almost all of them that really limited our ability to draw conclusions.” She and her colleagues examined a myriad of scientific literature to determine if marijuana consumption can be linked to cancer. They were unable to draw a conclusion.

It’s safe to say that excessive alcohol use can lead to aggressive, hostile behavior by intoxicated individuals. Meanwhile marijuana generally has the opposite effect. The Journal of Addictive Behaviorspublished an article that states “alcohol is clearly the drug with the most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence relationship.” The article also stated that “cannabis reduces the likelihood of violence during intoxication.” The chemicals associated with each substance simply lead to different types of behavior.