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Alcohol, Tobacco More Dangerous Than Marijuana 

Jump to full article: Associated Press (AP), 2007-03-24

Intro:

New "landmark" research finds that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than some illegal drugs like marijuana or Ecstasy and should be classified as such in legal systems, according to a new British study.

In research published Friday in The Lancet magazine, Professor David Nutt of Britain's Bristol University and colleagues proposed a new framework for the classification of harmful substances, based on the actual risks posed to society. Their ranking listed alcohol and tobacco among the top 10 most dangerous substances.

Nutt and colleagues used three factors to determine the harm associated with any drug: the physical harm to the user, the drug's potential for addiction and the impact on society of drug use. The researchers asked two groups of experts Â-- psychiatrists specializing in addiction and legal or police officials with scientific or medical expertise Â-- to assign scores to 20 different drugs, including heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, amphetamines and LSD. . . .

"The current drug system is ill thought-out and arbitrary," said Nutt, referring to the United Kingdom's practice of assigning drugs to three distinct divisions, ostensibly based on the drugs' potential for harm. "The exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Misuse of Drugs Act is, from a scientific perspective, arbitrary," write Nutt and his colleagues in The Lancet.

Tobacco causes 40 percent of all hospital illnesses, while alcohol is blamed for more than half of all visits to hospital emergency rooms. The substances also harm society in other ways, damaging families and occupying police services.

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Quotes from this article:

The current drug system is ill thought-out and arbitrary. The exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Misuse of Drugs Act is, from a scientific perspective, arbitrary.
Professor David Nutt of Britain's Bristol University and colleagues, in new research published Friday in The Lancet magazine. The researchers proposed a new framework for the classification of harmful substances in the UK, based on the actual risks posed to society. Their ranking listed alcohol and tobacco among the top 10 most dangerous substances.