A "landmark" study published today in the British journal, The Lancet, reports that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than some illegal drugs like marijuana and MDMA ("Ecstasy"). Professor David Nutt of Britain's Bristol University calls for a new classification of harmful substances based on science that considers the actual risks posed to society.
The study, reported by the Associated Press, 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 use of that drug.
Statement from Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance:
"This study would almost certainly come to exactly the same conclusions in the United States," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "There are few countries in which the contradiction between science and policy on drugs is greater than in the United States. What's needed is better integration of legal and illegal drug policies, with an emphasis on sensible regulations grounded in science, public health and rigorous policy analysis."
"One thing we know for sure," said Nadelmann, "is that it makes absolutely no sense to arrest almost 700,000 people for year for nothing more than marijuana possession. That is a costly and pointless waste of resources that has significantly harmed the lives of millions of Americans."