Sunday, March 04, 2007

Drug, drugs, and drugs

Interesting article in today's OBSERVER newspaper. The word is that a research group established by Colin Blakemore, CEO of the UK Medical Research Council, proposes to re-classify drugs according the to harm they are likely to inflict on those taking them. They propose to de-link drug classification from the legal system's response to them and rely entirely on their direct harmful consequences. This means, for instance, that alcohol would receive a higher (ie more dangerous) ranking than for instance the party drug ecstasy. All perhaps unremarkable, except that it makes one wonder how any other system could possibly have ever been used. Surely, if one goes for drugs prohibition at all, one would want to deal with drugs in order of dangerousness to health as opposed to other criteria. But then, fighting drug abuse has long been code for fighting drug users (and occasionally those benefiting from the drugs trade). Of course, if ecstasy turns out to be a lower risk to our health than is alcohol, this begs the question why alcohol is not an illegal substance but ecstasy is. Here's the top 20 list:
  1. Heroin
  2. Cocaine
  3. Barbiturates
  4. Street methadone
  5. Alcohol
  6. Ketamine
  7. Benzodiazepine
  8. Amphetamines
  9. Tobacco
  10. Buprenorphine
  11. Cannabis
  12. Solvents
  13. 4-MTA
  14. LSD
  15. Methylphenidate
  16. Anabolic steroids
  17. GHB
  18. Ecstasy
  19. Alkylnitrates
  20. Khat

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