This editorial is sponsored by Dopeboo.
Old ideas of masculinity are transforming into a “new sexy” of mindful men. One of the activities American culture has long linked to male machismo is the direct correlation between masculinity and the ability to toss ‘em back.
But that’s so last century. Conservatives and liberals alike have stepped up to show their support for the cannabis industry, resulting in a first step in federal level protections on medical marijuana enacted by the Senate. While we’re not looking to give up our craft brews anytime soon, all this pot progress got us thinking–what if all those situations you expect a man to grab a drink, he ripped his vape pen instead?
Off the top of our heads, it would certainly have an impact on quality of life, relationship stability, crime rates, and environmental issues. But let’s look a little more closely.
Acclaimed NYC journalist, Pete Hamill, contemplates the questions that surround American males’ love of alcohol with his memoir, A Drinking Life. Without ever approaching a sloppy, staggering descent into alcoholism, he instead describes his life starting on the streets of 1950s Brooklyn through his career into his ultimate divorce and disconnect from family. In a series of scenes subtly filled with drinking men, you’re forced to wonder where you first got the idea that alcohol “will put some hair on your chest,” that business deals are best made over a drink, and old-fashioned stoicism is best accomplished by way of booze.
Modern media continues to reinforce these ideas that a drink will toughen a guy up, help him hold in “unmanly” emotions, even to celebrate success. As a result, without ever really thinking about it, many men have gradually entwined our concept of masculinity with an image on the rocks. The problems start, however, in the fact that alcohol can be significantly more addictive than other leisure activities, like pot smoking, and therefore has a funny way of devolving from the tough-guy fun it started out as.
In fact, over 88,000 Americans every year die by boozing. Whether by immediate overdose, the result of long-term health effects, or the mindset that results in careless decision making–this is a stark contrast to the ZERO deaths cannabis has caused since it’s introduction back in 5000 B.C. (If this has you wondering how 151 is legal while weed is not, take a look at the lobbyists: a lot of large scale alcohol companies and the pharmaceutical industry that is pretty unhappy that medical states are now showing a 25% decrease in opiate overdoses since medical marijuana has become an acceptable alternative.)
But enough with the politics, let’s keep contemplating how this comparison can personally impact men. The National Institute of Health cites per year:
- 8 million American men struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
- 298,000 boys under 18 struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder
- $249 Billion in costs to the United States for alcohol issues
- Alcohol is the 5th leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide
- 696,000 American college students assaulted by another student who’s been drinking
- 97,000 American college students sexually assaulted or raped by student who’s been drinking
- 22,585 male deaths from alcohol-related liver disease and was the cause of 1 in 3 liver transplants in the U.S.
You can see a biological breakdown of the “Male Body on Booze” from Men’s Health infographic below:
Aside from the physical effects of alcohol, it’s worth noting the mental impact as well. Though you’d never guess from the marketing, alcohol is actually a depressant. That means if you have an after work drink to unwind each day, it’s like you’re popping a depressant pill every afternoon–an effect you’re sure to feel after a while. This depression also correlates to the increased productivity and sleep quality commonly noted by those who’ve decided to take a break from drinking.
So what’s personal health look like with weed? Well, the primary reason cannabis (or “hemp” as it was called by our founding fathers who made it a mandatory crop in the colonies) has made such a comeback is for its undeniable healing qualities. Medical marijuana has proven a successful treatment for both mental and physical symptoms ranging from minor to severe. It’s been dubbed the “poor man’s mood stabilizer” in the psychiatric community, and has even gone so far as to actively reverse the growth of cancer cells in patients. Though the unbiased studies have only just begun, many believe cannabis use could prevent cancer cells from sprouting in the first place. And when anxiety has you unable to eat or sleep — those two symptoms that tend to snowball into self-destruction — it just takes one rip to hit the refresh button. (Don’t worry, even as an appetite stimulant, cannabis users have a significantly lower rate of obesity!)
That means, where alcohol will enhance manic impulses and heighten high/low emotions, pot has proven to even you out (Which, isn’t stoicism really about a level-head? Is alcohol really repressing our emotions as much as we like to think?). The health risks that do come from cannabis, seem to be almost entirely linked to “smoke” itself. That is, burning your herbs until they “combust” at unwieldy high temperatures. Because cannabis culture is nothing if not conscientious, health nuts, medical professionals, and engineers have joined forces to come up with all new ways of eliminating smoke’s nasty byproducts. Water pipes and vaporizers, in particular, have taken this to a level of scientific precision.
Now that we’ve examined the internal effects of alcohol versus cannabis culture, it’s worth noting the impact on your relationships. From the facts above it’s easy to see you’ll be putting your family through the ups and downs of far fewer (if any) health complications from cannabis use, but there’s also a serious difference in the day-to-day quality of relationships.
What sounds better: A couple happily hiking as a team, puffing along on a vape pen OR the couple stumbling out of a bar to the stressed-out sensations of shouting and crying? The effect of alcohol on personal relationships is substantial. At the extreme end, statistics show 92% of all domestic violence cases include alcohol at the moment the incident takes place. It’s easy to see the difference when you consider the heat of the moment. Say some problem arises in your relationship, voices are raised, and it’s about to go down–
Scenario 1: You’ve been drinking, or grab a drink to add an air of tough-guy machismo. What are the chances a problem didn’t exist in the first place, but was created by an alcohol-driven ego like a guy talking to your lady at the bar? Say you’re at home — what are the odds that next drink leads to amplified emotions, and, again, the crying and the shouting? How likely is it you have a calm, rational discussion weighing the pros and cons of the issue over a mixed emotions of a mixed drink.
Scenario 2: You’re pissed, your partner’s pissed, you grab the peace pipe. Suddenly you’ve both had a moment to take a deep breath. The cannabis has lowered your levels of aggression, and it (almost always) becomes clear that whatever hiccup has arisen is not worth getting so riled up over, but is something you two can get through together with a calm conversation and little spousal strategizing.
It’s easy to see–and we’ve all witnessed it in real life: Little problems become big problems when booze is involved, and little problems dissipate into the past with a couple of cannabis clouds. There’s good reason you hear the saying “couples who smoke weed together stay together,” but you definitely rarely, if ever, hear the same for getting drunk as a duo. When you apply this to Pete Hamill’s situation, it’s worth wondering if he could have avoided divorce and separation from his kids if male culture had ingrained an idea of pot-smoking instead of a shot of scotch for every occasion from sadness to celebration.
So what’s the big picture result here? America’s insistence on putting manliness on the rocks is impacting men’s personal existence as well as their external relationships. On the other hand, men who prefer cannabis are boosting their health and interpersonal bonds. While alcohol is creating chaos. The cannabis market is also breathing life back into our environment as material that isn’t ingested is being used as an eco-friendly fuel (like Henry Ford’s “Car of the Earth”), plastic, fabric, and textile in the form of hemp which grows like a week and rejuvenates land that even cotton has depleted. But that’s a whole separate article.
In reality, the answer usually lies somewhere in the middle. The modern man is wary of any kind of extremism and can recognize a symbiosis between these two activities. Take craft brewery, Lagunitas, for example. This Chicago/San Francisco company has even started passing out their own rolling papers, probably because we all know how much pot can help the day after bottomless refills at memory-making events like the Lagunitas Beer Circus!
So what do you think? The clink of a drink or a puff of pot? Are there male-centric activities that could be enhanced with weed, and which are best left to boozing?
Photos courtesy of author.