Alcohol more harmful than cannabis, says chief Government adviser

He claims ministers ignore evidence to distort drugs debate

Alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than ecstasy, cannabis and LSD, the Government’s chief drug adviser has claimed as he accused ministers of ignoring evidence to distort the drugs debate.
 
Professor David Nutt
, the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said the current drug classification system needs replacing with a ‘drug harm ranking’ which includes legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

In a stark attack, Prof Nutt said the way drugs are classified has become ‘highly politicised’ and that politicians ‘distort’ and ‘devalue’ research evidence. He said smoking cannabis created only a ‘relatively small risk’ of psychotic illness, adding that all drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, should be ranked by a harm index.

This would put alcohol fifth, behind only the likes of heroin and cocaine. Tobacco would be ninth while cannabis, LSD and ecstasy would be ranked 11, 14 and 18 respectively.

He said yesterday: ‘No one is suggesting that drugs are not harmful. The critical question is one of scale and degree. We need a full and open discussion of the evidence and a mature debate about what the drug laws are for – and whether they doing their job?’

He added: ‘I think we have to accept young people like to experiment – with drugs and other potentially harmful activities – and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives. If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you are probably wrong.’

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