March 24, 2007 Just how dangerous are recreational drugs and what’s the most effective way to classify drugs as the basis for law enforcement? With the technologies for creating new substances now well ahead of the law’s ability to even recognise them, it’s clearly time for a new way of doing things. Last year, the UK’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee tabled a report entitled Drug classification: making a hash of it? which concluded that the current UK classification of drugs into A, B and C classes should be replaced with a new system more closely reflecting the harm they cause. One of the most striking findings of the report was that based on the committee’s assessment of harm, tobacco and alcohol (in red on the chart) would be ranked as more harmful than cannabis, LSD and ecstasy. The report also stated that, on the basis of harm, "alcohol would be classed as B bordering on A, while cigarettes would probably be in the borderline between B and C". Now a leading researcher on substance misuse has expressed concern that the proposed classification regime is too limited in its approach to serve as a basis for changes in the law.
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