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Alcohol vs Cannabis

Alcohol vs Cannabis in Scotland.

This article tackles the age-old question about Alcohol vs Cannabis. Which is better? Specifically in Scotland with all the facts and figures to back it up.


“In the Red Corner…ALCOHOL”

Alcohol has been part of human culture for thousands of years, it probably started way back when some smart early human found that eating fermented fruit made him stay out all night and gave him the confidence to chat up the nearest cave-woman he could find – heck even Jesus turned water into wine.

The consumption of Alcohol spans geographic borders with most countries have their own national drink like Vodka from Russia, Wine from France and Whisky from Scotland.

“In the Green Corner…CANNABIS“

Similar to alcohol, Cannabis has been a part of human civilization for thousands of years and was first described in a Chinese medical reference dated around 2373BC.

Also similar to Alcohol, Cannabis (THC) has mind-altering effects but unlike alcohol, cannabis has caused ZERO deaths compared to alcohol, which accounts for roughly 3.3million (5.8% of all deaths) deaths per year globally.

We do not deny that we have an obvious bias to this issue. Objectivity and being impartial is our goal here. Let us see where this takes us if we take this away from personal opinion and just look at the facts and the figures.

Scotland is the home of Hope CBD and as Scotland is also a country well known for its appreciation of alcohol; let us look at the stats associated with Alcohol and Cannabis specifically in Scotland.

The following is a roundup of available information giving an overview towards Alcohol in relation to Health, Crime and also the economic impact & benefits in Scotland.

Health – Alcohol vs Cannabis

Alcohol infographic showing its impact on health
Infographic outlining the implications alcohol has on our health


So 84% of Scots thought alcohol causes either a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot of harm in Scotland’.
Over four in ten (44%) non-drinkers perceived that others think they are odd for not drinking.
Source – Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2013

1 in 4 people (26%) drink at hazardous or harmful levels (defined as drinking more than 14 units per week).
Source- Scottish health survey 2015

There were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths in 2016 (where alcohol was the underlying cause of death) – an increase of 115 (10%) compared with 2015.
Source- National records for Scotland

There was almost 35,000 alcohol-related hospital stays in 2015/16.
92% of alcohol-related hospital stays resulted from emergency admissions.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had double the rate of alcohol-related hospital stays compared with NHS Dumfries and Galloway.
Source – Alcohol-related Hospital Statistics Scotland 2015/16

Crime – Alcohol

Infographic showing alcohol related crime
Infographic showing the impact alcohol has on criminality

In just over half (54%) of violent crime, the victim said the offender was under the influence of alcohol.
In the past 10 years, half of those accused of murder were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the murder. This stat is simply outrageous when you think about it. Absolutely shocking statistics to comprehend here.

Sources – Scottish Prisoner Survey 2013/Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15


financial burden of alcohol on the state.
financial burden of alcohol on the state.


We come now to the financial cost to Scotland that Alcohol brings along with merriment :

Alcohol harm costs Scotland £3.6 billion a year in health, social care, crime, productive capacity and wider costs.

Alcohol costs the health service in Scotland £267 million a year.

The cost of alcohol-related crime is £727 million a year.

Alcohol costs every local authority area in Scotland millions of pounds a year.

Source – The Societal Cost of Alcohol Misuse in Scotland for 2007

It is very interesting to note that Scotland’s Whisky export figures barely exceeds the financial burden imposed on Scotland by Alcohol Harm.
£3.8 Billion in Whisky exports.
£3.6 Billion worth of alcohol harm.

The largest industry for exports was the manufacture of food and beverages, worth £4.8 billion in 2015, 16.8% of all international exports. The majority of this sector continues to be whisky exports which accounted for 80% (£3.8 billion) in 2015.
Source – Export statistics Scotland

So as you can see, in Scotland where alcohol consumption is above average, it brings with it a high cost on the country, most notably the £3.6bn it costs a year.

Now we do not have information on what Cannabis would do if it were legal in Scotland. What we can do is look at a comparable model and see what a country/state of similar population size could achieve. For this, we are going to use Colorado in the good old USA.

Colorado & Scotland – A Comparison

A comparison colorado and scotland-1
A comparison colorado and scotland-1


Population 5.355 million
Population Density 52 people per square mile
Total Are (SQ Miles) 104,094


Population 5.295 million
Population Density 174 people per square mile
Total Are (SQ Miles) 30,418

The following is a summary of some of the benefits both achieved and projected of Cannabis on Colorado.


A major benefit that has come from legalization is that this paves the way to study the medical benefits of marijuana. This has been impossible to do before under prohibition.

Additionally, it is worth mentioning again, there have been ZERO reported deaths associated with Cannabis, you can’t overdose on it, unlike alcohol.

Healthy cannabis
Healthy cannabis



According to the Uniform Crime Reporting Data in Denver, there has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime between September 2014 & 2015 and a 5.2% drop in violent crime.

Also by removing the criminal penalties long associated with certain Cannabis related offenses. Therefore thousands of people will avoid any life-changing consequences they would have if they had a criminal record. Colorado estimates to potentially save around $12-40million per year simply by ending arrests for cannabis possession.


After passing the Colorado Amendment 64 on 6th November 2012 legalization started in January 2014 and since then the State has achieved multiple benefits over and above the economic benefit of $2.39billion in 2015. The Legal Cannabis industry is also credited with creating over 18,000 jobs. Sensational in time where jobs and scarce.


There you have it, a quick overview of Alcohol vs Cannabis specific to Scotland.  This is undoubtedly a subject we will revisit with more detailed information on Cannabis in markets like Colorado. The purpose of which is to drive awareness of Cannabis and its benefits not just from a medical perspective but from a socioeconomic one also.

So this begs the questions why is it that across most of the developed world, Cannabis is illegal yet Alcohol is not only legal it is entrenched in our culture? Is it a generational hangover from prohibition, is it an agenda driven by big pharma? I’ll let you have that discussion in the comments below.

So there we have it, we have the stats on the impact of alcohol in Scotland, we have comparable stats on the impact of Cannabis in Colorado and they are very compelling. Alcohol vs Cannabis in Scotland Answered.

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