Sugar or Pot—Which Is More Dangerous?

According to a recent poll, Americans now think that sugar is more harmful to your health.

(Photo: Seth McConnell/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Mar 14, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Sure, smoking pot can lower your IQ and up your risk of a stroke. But having that extra slice of cake? Now, that’s just insane.

A recent study shows that more Americans now believe that weed is the lesser of two evils. The Hart Research Associates polled 1,000 adults, asking them which substance they thought caused the most harm to a person’s health: tobacco, alcohol, sugar, or marijuana.

Tobacco rose to the top, with 49 percent of responders saying that it’s the most dangerous. Alcohol took second place, with 24 percent.

More surprisingly, though, is that sugar trumped marijuana: While 8 percent think rolling up a joint is just bad news for a person’s health, 15 percent think that the sweet stuff is an even bigger problem.

But perhaps it’s not that surprising. The Drug Enforcement Agency still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy—yet Colorado and Washington state have already legalized pot for recreational use. Even President Obama, who’s admitted to smoking weed in his youth (and he turned out just fine), thinks that the drug poses no more danger than alcohol.

Sugar, on the other hand, can lead to a plethora of health problems. Besides diabetes and obesity, high sucrose consumption has been linked to depression, cancer, and heart disease. Increasingly wary consumers have forced food companies to adapt by listing five or six types of sugars on labels instead of presenting it as the first ingredient.

The World Health Organization recommends that sugar consist of less than 5 percent of our daily caloric intakes—which more or less amounts to not finishing that fruit yogurt for lunch. We haven't quite reached the point in marijuana's increasing acceptance, however, at which the WHO recommends a daily joint intake.