Paul McCartney is in his backstage dressing room in Liverpool doing headstands and talking about how he gave up marijuana to be a good role model to his children and grandchildren.
That’s where we find the 72-year-old rocker as he’s being interviewed by newspaper The Mirror.
“I don’t do it any more,” McCartney told The Mirror of cannabis. “Why? The truth is I don’t really want to set an example to my kids and grandkids. It’s now a parent thing.
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“Back then I was just some guy around London having a ball, and the kids were little so I’d just try and keep it out of their faces.”
McCartney’s long affair with weed became a familiar story throughout the Beatles’ career and his time as a solo artist. We’re well familiar with images of a stoned McCartney sitting at the feet of guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, and his Japan arrest story (for a half-pound of marijuana in his bag) is equally famous.
And now McCartney has given up ganja — but he did tell The Mirror he’s replacing it with another substance, one that is considered more dangerous than weed by many scientists and doctors.
“Instead of smoking a spliff I’ll now have a glass of red wine or a nice margarita. The last time I smoked was a long time ago.”
It’s an interesting trade-off. On one hand, pot is illegal in England and most of the United States and alcohol is very legal and available at most restaurants in both countries. On the other hand, more and more scientists and doctors are saying that marijuana is a less dangerous drug than alcohol.
A 2015 report in Scientific Reports found that alcohol is the deadliest substance of those examined, followed by heroin, cocaine and tobacco. On the least-deadly part of the study’s scale: Cannabis, which researchers determined is “roughly 114 times less deadly than booze.”
In a high-profile column published by the New York Times in March, “Alcohol or Marijuana? A Pediatrician Faces the Question,” doctor-educator Aaron E. Carroll addressed the question he’d been hearing more and more often lately:
“Which would I rather my children use — alcohol or marijuana?”
The column is a thoughtful exploration of harms, stigma, science and the unknown. But at the end, here’s how Carroll answered the question:
“When someone asks me whether I’d rather my children use pot or alcohol, after sifting through all the studies and all the data, I still say ‘neither.’ Usually, I say it more than once. But if I’m forced to make a choice, the answer is ‘marijuana.’”