Third Party & Independents Archives

The legalization of drugs is not a political issue, but a scientific one

America’s one-size-fits-all war on drugs has been going on for quite some time now with not much to show for it. Former government researchers from the UK have ranked 10 of the most frequently abused drugs (including alcohol) according to their relative harm. It’s an effort to drive home the fact that what we think we know about the nature of drug harm is either incomplete or, in some cases, flat-out wrong.

So what did they find? You can see for yourself here:

Ranking the Collateral Damage of 10 Drugs [Infographic]
Infographic by 12 Keys Recovery

Surprising exactly no one, we can see that alcohol is far and away the most dangerous drug on the list in terms of "harm to others." When ranked in terms of harm to the user, crack cocaine takes the top spot.

Notice, too, that cannabis ranks far below both of these. Scientists in the pocket of big pharma will tell you that cannabis is at best "untested" and at worst "dangerous," but the facts do not, and never will, back up their claims.

At any rate, it's clear enough that the "war on drugs" has been driven by politicking and hypocrisy, rather than by scientific inquiry.

If you'd like to read the full study that resulted in the infographic you see here, you can read the full text here.
Daniel Faris graduated from the Writers Institute at Susquehanna University in 2011. You can join his alter ego for discussions of progressive music over at The Sound of Progress.

Posted by DFaris at September 9, 2014 11:32 AM
Comment #382936

Not only is Alcohol far and away the most dangerous drug on the list it is also the most profitable. The war on drugs was and is driven by profitability considerations first and foremost. That is exactly why marijuana was classified as it was back in the early 20th century. After all how can you market something to someone if they can grow it themselves and bypass your marketing ploys.

Posted by: Speak4all at September 9, 2014 12:48 PM
Comment #382939

I do think the damage scale is strongly associated with the availablity of the drugs. E.g. Alcohol is not really dangerous unless abused but since it is easily available the total damage scale experienced is high. The damage from drugs like heroin, meth and crack are intense but since it is not legally available the damage score is lowered. This means that the minor damages caused by cannabis will increase once readily available although I think since alcohol is already in that market any changes in total damage would be difficult to seperate. I also think the dangers of each drug are scaled to their addictability, i.e. how likely will a user become addicted.
These factors should all be in play when deciding regulations. Profit needs to be out of the equation, overturn Citizens United is my rally cry for now…
What also needs to be include is the contribution of mental illness to the destrutive behaviours. The elimination of many mental health benefits and resources in the post-Ronnie reality is a major cause of some of these damage numbers in the US.

Posted by: Dave at September 9, 2014 3:04 PM
Comment #382940
This means that the minor damages caused by cannabis will increase once readily available

I’m not sure what planet you are living on, but cannabis is ALREADY readily available. As a non-pot smoker it’s hard to avoid people offering it to me, etc.

Also, your hypothesis is invalidated by looking at the results of the states who have legalized cannabis. It is less dangerous once we take the criminality out of it. Just as alcohol was less dangerous once we took the criminality out if it. Because once you do, you can make sure that the sold product is less dangerous than what you get off of the black market.

Look at the history of our first go around with prohibition, people were making their own bathroom alcohol and doing it badly, getting sick and dying. On top of that, the government was putting in dangerous chemicals with industrial alcohol so that it couldn’t be used as drinking alcohol, but that didn’t stop people from trying, and dying, as a result.

Fortunately, our previous generation of that day got smart quick and realized that not only was it un-American to try to legislate what people choose to put into their own bodies (They even recognized to constitutionally do it they needed to amend the constitution, something we somehow ignore), but that it was also more dangerous, both in product and in the illegal nature of its acquisition and sale via the crime syndicates.

Unfortunately, out generation and the previous generations before us weren’t nearly as smart. Or as American (non-totalitarian) as those in the 20s/30s were.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 9, 2014 7:05 PM
Comment #382966


I live on this planet, but it appears that you did not understand my post.

- “readily available” means legal. In the same way alcohol was obtainalbe during the prohibition there were still legal encumbrences that increased cost, decreased access points, etc… Bathtub gin has no equivalent in pot. You grow pot, it won’t kill you if you grow it wrong.

- I see no actual “damage numbers” or “dagerousness” metrics from states that have legallized pot. Anything you say about that is a guess so hypothesizing on your part doesn’t invalidate anything I said.

- Pot causes damage, more pot means more damage, thats a tautology. But like I also said, I believe people likely to use pot but haven’t yet for whatever reason are probably already using alcohol. Therefore, any increase in “damage” is likely minimal.

- We agree on one thing. There are legally imposed damages and societal costs that have nothing to do with using the drug itself. Remove those damages and we may very well have a net benefit.

Posted by: Dave at September 10, 2014 9:17 AM
Comment #383089

Drugs and alcohol abuse culminates in tremendous physical/mental damage and material loss. Recently, some 1K agents raided an LA clothing fashion district and took some $100M off the street. Pocket change to the drug trade but the raid does show the criminal intent to launder, clean up the blood money.

Heroin is the most popular/cheap drug on the market now. A common sight to see a dozen or so people standing in lines around the major cities in the mornings to buy their fix for the day. Hundreds of tons cultivated in Mexico, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Venezuela and so on - - -

The drug business is pretty much a product of globalisation. I would think few of the major drug players in LA use English as their first language, any education would have been achieved outside the US, probably non-citizens, no nationalistic/patriotic feelings, never read the Constitution, and so on - -

But, it is definitely a business ‘too big to fail’. Recall that Miami was built from the ground up in the 80’s heydays on the profits from Columbian/Mexican drugs.

The bigger question is how can a country some $20T in debt send a 1000 agents on a raid, whoop up on ISIL, buy school lunches for the kids, send a man to Mars and so on - - -?

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: roy ellis at September 12, 2014 4:41 PM
Comment #384319

I think since alcohol is legal there is more chance for abuse. The users of alcohol are everyday Americans who don’t even see it as a drug which leads to over-consumption and alcoholism. It is easily accessible and socially acceptable too which makes it easier for problems to occur. (DUI’s, car crashes,etc.) This potential harm to not just the users but to others around them makes the overall harm score the highest of the drugs. Cannabis’s rating is very low for being illegal even though it is still very accessible. People have split views about the legalization of marijuana but I believe it should be legalized and regulated just like alcohol/tobacco.

Posted by: Kristen at October 15, 2014 9:09 PM
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