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Marijuana Is Hardly the Healthy Alternative to Alcohol Millennials Think It Is

It seems as if young Americans are interested in swapping out one harmful substance for another.

In the United States from 2002 to 2013, the alcohol consumption rate increased 11 percent, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry [1] last fall. That’s not good news: Research conducted by The Lancet this week revealed that drinking 100 grams of alcohol per week (five glasses of wine or pints of beer) increases the risk of an early death. The research studied over 600,000 people from 19 countries and found that people who drink are more likely to suffer a stroke, heart failure, or aneurysm. It also found that drinking between 10 and 18 drinks a week could take a year or two away from someone’s life expectancy.

The younger folks seem to recognize this issue — but their solution isn’t ideal. Of 6,000 millennials polled by The Tylt [2], 87.6 percent believe that using marijuana is a better alternative to alcohol. On top of this, 85.6 percent of them believe it is actually good for their health. Another 84 percent say weed should be legal (compared to 64 percent of the general public) — and 54.4 percent believe it should be legal to consume in public.

Marijuana may be less addictive and harmful than opioids and other painkillers, but it does not come without considerable risks.

Today’s pot is not your father’s or grandfather’s marijuana [3]. It is not the so-called “harmless plant that nature created,” which had at best a 3 percent THC content. Today’s marijuana is a high-potency, genetically engineered, highly addictive, and lucrative cash crop. Some 10 percent of marijuana users become dependent on the substance, WebMD says, and it can lower testosterone levels in men and worsen mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. It also increases the heart rate, and smoking it can put people at risk for bronchitis; drivers who are high are also two to three times more likely to get into car accidents than those who have used no substances at all.

As one physician, Timothy Huckaby, also said in an earlier piece for LifeZette [3], “We are told that cannabis never killed anyone, but what about the thousands of heroin deaths that started down the tragic road of addiction because of an initial exposure to marijuana? We are in the middle of a great science experiment, except that the research rats are the general public — this is mostly our young adults and, sadly, also our children.”

Related: The Teens Most Likely to Use Pot [4]

Speaking of odd trends among youth, Heinz seems to believe it has invented a new product called mayochup (ketchup and mayonnaise in the same bottle). So far, it has gotten its fair share of national attention.

The company put out a Twitter poll saying that if 500,000 people voted in favor of it — which is about how many people had voted “yes” in the poll as of Saturday morning — then it would release the product.

There are a couple problems with this, however, as many on the internet pointed out: Heinz didn’t invent this concoction.

A quick Google search indicated that fry sauce indeed did exist prior to Heinz. Fry sauce, also known as “mayoketchup,” is especially popular in Puerto Rico; the product is two parts ketchup and one part mayonnaise, so it has a light red appearance. Goya already sells it, so what Heinz is doing isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

Plus, not everyone who is interested in it need buy fry sauce: Consumers can easily mix ketchup and mayo to their heart’s content and get the same effect. Peanut butter and jelly in the same jar exists (Smuckers Goober), but it’s not exactly the most popular product on the market.

Unlike the marijuana debate, the mayochup battle is one that seems to have younger Americans divided — and Heinz is using that to its advantage to gain attention in this digital era.