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Pediatrician: Marijuana use safer than alcohol for teens, young adults

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Marijuana is stored in bins for trimming and packaging in preparation to be sold retail at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver, Friday Feb. 14, 2014.
Brennan Linsley | AP file

Your children are likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol at some point. If you have to draw a hard line on marijuana or alcohol, which should you choose? 

In a recent piece for The New York Times, Pediatrician Aaron E. Carroll said he thinks marijuana is the better choice. 

"No one should be under the illusion that I'm arguing pot is completely harm free or that it has no issues," he said on MPR News with Kerri Miller. "The problem is that all of those studies could be repeated with alcohol and would likely be far worse."

He looked at a number of issues related to impairment: crime, health, violence and driving. 

"It almost doesn't really matter which metric you pick," he said. "Alcohol is just massively so much more dangerous and the statistics are so much scarier that it almost doesn't matter what lens you try to look at this through. The only one you can pick is that you're likely to get in more danger legally today by using marijuana than you are for drinking underage."

Some statistics from his NY Times piece:

• While 9 percent of pot users eventually become dependent, more than 20 percent of alcohol users do.'

• A more recent study found that, after controlling for various factors, a detectable amount of THC, the active ingredient in pot, in the blood did not increase the risk of accidents at all. Having a blood alcohol level of at least 0.05 percent, though, increased the odds of being in a crash by 575 percent.

• The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that alcohol use is a factor in 40 percent of all violent crimes in the United States, including 37 percent of rapes and 27 percent of aggravated assaults. No such association has been found among marijuana users.

Two moms called and contributed their views on talking to their kids about alcohol and marijuana: