How marijuana can help you drink less alcohol

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

I gotta give you an update, man. Weed has worked wonders for my girlfriend (she’s been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder). We’ve stuck to pure indica, and it relaxes and calms her. She was developing a pretty severe drinking problem before, and now, she’ll just have a few puffs instead, and be happy for the evening. Thank you so much man, it really, really helped us.


Don’t thank me. Thank cannabis. But seriously, I am glad it’s working out for you guys. Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional, and your girlfriend should keep her doctor informed.

That being said, I want to talk about the part in your letter where you mention that marijuana has helped her not drink so much. I think that’s cool. There have been a few studies (here’s one of them: that show that states with medical-marijuana laws have fewer suicides and traffic-accident deaths. Correlation isn’t causation, but scientists speculate that, when given the choice, many people will use cannabis instead of alcohol.

This could be why the liquor lobby is against cannabis legalization. And why wouldn’t it be against weed? Since when are fewer suicides and traffic deaths better than the millions of dollars to be made from the sale of alcoholic beverages? Exactly. In fact, many people use marijuana instead of more harmful drugs.

There was a study done in Canada last year with the long-ass title of “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients.” It surveyed 404 cannabis patients and found that 41 percent used marijuana as a substitute for liquor, 36.1 percent for “illicit substances” and 67.8 percent “as a substitute for prescription drugs.”

It says, “The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ’less withdrawal’ (67.7%), ’fewer side-effects’ (60.4%), and ’better symptom management’ suggesting that ’patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”

Who knew? Apparently, weed is more like an “exit” drug than a “gateway” drug.

Hey, Ngaio, has there been any fallout from the Oaksterdam University raid last year? Anyone ever get arrested?

—The Oakland Blaze

The one person arrested at the fed’s raid on Oaksterdam was Jose Gutierrez. During the frenzy that occurred as the Drug Enforcement Administration tried to leave the Blue Sky Coffee Shop and the crowd of protesters tried to block the feds from leaving, Gutierrez was grabbed and beaten by federal agents, who then arrested him and charged him with assault on a federal officer. His defense team argued that Gutierrez was targeted by the feds to create diversion using a riot-control tactic known as a “snatch squad.” Gutierrez was found guilty and faces up to eight years in federal prison. He is going to appeal, and he needs your help. Check out for more information.