The Most Dangerous Drug

A new study in The Lancet rates the harmfulness of 20 psychoactive drugs according to 16 criteria and finds that alcohol comes out on top. Although that conclusion is generating headlines, it is not at all surprising, since alcohol is, by several important measures (including acute toxicity, impairment of driving ability, and the long-term health effects of heavy use), the most dangerous widely used intoxicant, and its abuse is also associated with violence, family breakdown, and social estrangement. A group of British drug experts gathered by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) rated alcohol higher than most or all of the other drugs for health damage, mortality, impairment of mental functioning, accidental injury, economic cost, loss of relationships, and negative impact on community. Over all, alcohol rated 72 points on a 100-point scale, compared to 55 for heroin, 54 for crack cocaine, and 33 for methamphetamine. Cannabis got a middling score of 20, while MDMA (Ecstasy), LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms were at the low end, with ratings of 9, 7, and 6, respectively.

One can quibble with these judgments (some of that in a minute). But there is no question that the ISCD, which University of Bristol psychopharmacologist David Nutt organized after he was fired from his job as the government's chief drug adviser for excessively candid comparisons of cannabis and alcohol, has put more thought into its classification scheme that the British and U.S. governments put into theirs. As Leslie King, a co-author of the study, wryly observes, "What governments decide is illegal is not always based on science."

You could view the fact that distinctions between tolerated and proscribed drugs have never had a firm scientific basis as yet another reason why politicians should not be empowered to control the substances we put into our bodies.  Or, if you are David Nutt, you could view it as a reason why they should consult experts like you before they try to do so. While Nutt seems to think that marijuana and psychedelics are too strictly controlled, for example, he also argues that alcoholic beverages are too cheap and too readily available. For him, that conclusion flows directly from the scientific evidence, although a closer examination might reveal some intervening value judgments.

Putting aside the issue of technocratic paternalism, there is an impressionistic aspect to many of the judgments underlying these drug scores.  In the procedure used for the study, the authors write, "scores are often changed from those originally suggested as participants share their different experiences and revise their views." Sometimes these views are backed up by data, such as ratios of lethal to effective doses or survey results that indicate addiction rates, but often the evidence is more anecdotal. It also is not clear whether judgments about alcohol's harms were influenced by the fact that it is so widely consumed. As I read the study, the scores are supposed to be independent of use rates. But A.P. reports that "experts said alcohol scored so high because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers but for those around them." Regarding social consequences, there is much room for interpretation about alcohol's causal role in domestic violence and other harmful behavior.

The scores may also exaggerate the intrinsic dangers of illegal drugs, since they do not distinguish between harms caused by drug use itself and harms caused by prohibition. "Many of the harms of drugs are affected by their availability and legal status," the authors note. "Ideally, a model needs to distinguish between the harms resulting directly from drug use and those resulting from the control system for that drug." The harm associated with heroin use, for example, is compounded by unpredictable purity, by artificially high prices that encourage injection, and by anti-paraphernalia policies that encourage needle sharing.

As usual, defenders of drinking are outraged by the comparison between alcohol and illegal drugs. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, tells The Sun, "The vast majority of people know it's just not rational to say that enjoying a social beer with friends in the pub or glass of wine over dinner has the moral or societal equivalence of injecting heroin or smoking a crack pipe." Such reactions are based on the observation that the vast majority of drinkers are not alcoholics. Despite alcohol's very real dangers, they generally manage to consume it in a way that not only does not harm them or others but on balance enhances their lives. Here is the point that defensive drinkers like Simmonds miss: If this is possible with alcohol, it is possible with any intoxicant that large numbers of people have shown an interest in consuming. For more on that, see my book Saying Yes.

I discuss Nutt's drug-related deviance here, here, and here. Ron Bailey notes a previous Nutt-led study of drug dangers here. Brendan O'Neill cited Nutt in his 2009 attack on the "unholy alliance between alcohol prohibitionists and marijuana reformers." I discussed the potential and perils of comparing marijuana to alcohol in a 2010 book review.

[Thanks to Terry Michael for the tip.]

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  • ziggy||

    SO the evidence is clear, alcohol should also be prohibited!

  • Terry Michael||

    I wonder: next tea party a Pot Party?

    Ziggy's sarcasm highlights the MSM's hyprocrisy. Big papers like The New York Times and Washington Post have drug tested summer interns, but they would face a newsroom unprising if they tried to alcohol test an aging editor.

    Politicians and the MSM put the nix on Prop 19 to legalize marijuana in California, which looks like it is going down--though many of us were hopeful we could end Reefer Madness in the Nation's biggest state and move toward sanity by ending neo-Prohibition and all the harm it causes.

    I will make this prediction: the next Tea Party will be a Pot Party, in 2012, as the grassroots--pun intended--arise. We are mad as hell and not gonna' take it anymore.

    See one of my reviews of the madness of the War on Drugs on Us:
    http://reason.com/archives/200.....no-laughin

    The MSM have given hundreds of millions in free advertising space to the drug warriors, and seldom ever quote opponents of prohibition when they do stories about murders in Mexico and official corruption on this side of the border and militarized police SWAT teams murdering Americans and killing dogs as they go in with guns blazing. As I've pointed out many times: "Alcohol did not create Al Capone; Prohibition did. Marijuana and cocaine don't create murderous drug cartels; America's War on Drugs does."

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Do I see butane on that list?

  • ||

    It feels like I'm walking on sunshine!

  • ||

    He was a boy of soft demeanor
    And he loved his carbarator cleaner
    The vapor made a sweet aroma
    Sniffed himself into a coma

  • The Mossy Spaniard||

    Keep on sniffin' till your brain goes pop.

  • Camper||

    The most dangerouse drug is the Red/Blue kool-Aid.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Could lead to a mass suicide tomorrow night.

  • BakedPenguin||

  • reasonistreason||

    in the time of chimpanzees i was a monkey
    butane in my veins so i'm out to cut the junkie

  • ||

    You sound like a Brit.

  • jtuf||

    I think scientists discover that alcohol is so dangerous, because it is the most acceptable drug. They've already made the other drugs illegal or widely banned. The average medical researcher can't stand the thought of a readily available over the counter mind altering drug.

  • Jane||

    No intoxicant should be available without a prescription.

  • ||

    Even jenkem?

  • BakedPenguin||

    So since marijuana is not toxic - 57,000 doses couldn't kill a rat - it follows that you think it should be totally legal.

  • ||

    No one named Jane should be allowed on the internet.

  • ||

    Yes, the evil scientist cabal is obviously behind this. Science is all about killing the buzz.

  • KPres||

    I think this probably has a lot to do with the fact that because alcohol is socially acceptable, people will abuse it more voraciously than the others. My experience is that alcoholics can wind up in pretty rough shape, but I don't buy that all things being equal, it's worse than heroin or crack.

    "Here is the point that defensive drinkers like Simmonds miss: If this [controlled usage] is possible with alcohol, it is possible with any intoxicant that large numbers of people have shown an interest in consuming. "

    Sorry, that doesn't follow.

    I don't like when libertarians take this line of reasoning...trying to make the argument that a particular drug is or is not harmful. To me, it really doesn't matter what the effects of the drug are. It's their body, and their right to do with it what they will. Drink rat poison for all I care. It's not society's business until you infringe on other people's rights.

  • ||

    I suspect most in here agree with you - that the relative "harmfulness" of intoxicants is beside the point and data like this is virtually never used to justify an increase in liberty, but rather to justify further erosion of personal liberty.

  • Robert||

    There have been some, albeit not many, examples wherein use of "scientific" data have loosened controls on certain drugs. Some drugs have made it to less restrictive categories in the US Controlled Substances Act by that route. The example I like best was laid out by Alexander Shulgin concerning loperamide, which progressed by steps from a presumptive schedule 1 to over-the-counter status. It's also a drug that I unfortunately have to use frequently.

  • ||

    When someone figures out how to get loperamide across the bbb all hell is going to break loose.

  • BakedPenguin||

    It works for about 3% of the population.

  • ||

    Agreed -- but it's still a fact that there is a such thing as responsible and safe use of heroin or cocaine. Like Sullum says here, he gives plenty of anecdotes and data in Saying Yes that make this clear.

    It may not have anything to do with the basic libertarian objection to prohibition, but the stigma and exaggeration surrounding use of "hard" drugs certainly pushes policy in one direction.

  • Edwin||

    "it's still a fact that there is a such thing as responsible and safe use of heroin or cocaine"

    and this is why people will never vote libertarian, and few actually become full-on libertarians. You have to deny reality to defend your positions.

  • ||

    Huh? Not sure what point you're making here....

  • Rich||

    He just called you a liar.

  • ||

    Oh, that's all. Cool.

  • Edwin||

    No, I'm not calling him a liar, he could actually be that stupid.

    But more likely he's lying to himself to desperately cling onto the magical "logically" consistent libertarian dogma.

  • ||

    So my claim that any drug can be used responsibly is evidence that I'm either stupid, dishonest, dogmatic, or some combination of the three?

  • wayne||

    For a stupid, dishonest, dogmatic person you summed it up nicely.

  • Edwin||

    Combination? No. What don't you understand about "more likely" separating claims? Your drug use is affecting your ability to understand English

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Way to assume drug use there, Edwin. Would you like a urine sample? I'd be glad to mail you one.

  • ||

    A couple bumps is like a cup of coffee. You wouldn't even notice if the guy behind you in the checked lane at the liquor store just did a couple in his car before walking in. Or the cop driving in front of you...

  • Geotpf||

    Um, reality is in the graph above. Both cocaine and heroin scored lower than alcohol. Unless your argument is also that there no such thing as the responsible and safe use of alcohol.

  • ||

    Except that both heroin and cocaine (as well as barbiturates and street methadone) WERE rated as more harmful than alcohol in the chart in the Lancet article. The chart in Jacob's post is NOT in the Lancet article.

  • reasonistreason||

    Exactly. Of course the reality is that the very first dose of heroin/cocaine makes you an addict.

    The science is settled!

  • ||

    Ummm, no Edwin, denying reality is what you do when you ignore the cold hard bio-chemical facts in favor of "TEH ILLEGAL DRUGZ R EVIL N BAD CUZ DE GOVMINT SEZ SO"

  • ||

    My example of responsible cocaine use:

    In my past I had been known to use cocaine each and every friday night for many years to help facilitate the long evening out i used to have. I never missed work missed bills, robbed banks or beat my kids, and i was never once in danger of DUI. I may or may not have damaged my nasal cavity, but as of today there is no indication.

    All said i was able to enjoy a substance, albiet illegal, for many years and with great frequency, with little or no harmful effect to myself or my peers.

    Alas I can not say the exact same thing for my alcohol usage.

  • x,y||

    Missed a comma, bitch.

  • ||

    Damn that drug use!

  • ||

    Damn that drug use!

  • Zeb||

    You are right. The discussion of the relative harms of various drugs has nothing to do with the libertarian argument against prohibition. But some of us are interested in things besides libertarian arguments against things and have a general interest in drug policy and how drug use fits into society.

    Purely based on my own experience and people I have known, I would say that a serious alcoholic is in at least as bad shape (have you ever observed someone with delerium tremens? Not fun.) as a hard core heroin or cocaine addict. And if either of those were legal, I would bet that alcoholism would be way worse than either.

  • ||

    The discussion of the relative harms of various drugs has nothing to do with the libertarian argument against prohibition.

    Right. It has everything to do with the statist argument for prohibition though, and it's always valuable to shoot holes in weak arguments. So they fail at their own premise -- even if we buy into their "for your own good" bullshit, it's still pure incoherence.

  • Xenocles||

    I agree completely. It would be interesting to see how the results would change after (somehow) controlling for legal availability (including its affect on price) and social stigma. Tobacco is on there but it's really not in the same league as alcohol (not mind-altering and really only harmful with long-term use).

    I also agree that we lose when we move away from principle in favor of result. Legalization will undoubtedly lead to more overdoses and addictions, but it's worth it because of the consequences to our liberty.

  • WTFgovernment||

    Physiologically, pure heroin (not black market heroin) is far less harmful than alcohol.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...but I don't buy that all things being equal, it's worse than heroin or crack...

    As several have (rightly) already pointed out, this is irrelevant as to whether it should be legal or not.

    Also, you (and the studies' authors) are ignoring that there are other opiates than heroin, and other coca products than crack. Opium, taken orally as laudanum and coca as coca tea are far less "extreme" versions of the same basic drugs.

    If every time someone spoke about getting a drink you said "you shouldn't slam ten shots of Everclear!", they'd look at you like you were an idiot. But people feel free to assume that is essentially what any opiate or coca user wants to do. Just as with drinking, getting as fucked up as possible isn't always the goal.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Sorry, misread (and repeated part of) you initial post.

  • ||

    If you haven't noticed by now, Reason is basically all about the supporting the utilitarian side of libertarianism. They rarely preach to the libertarian choir with arguments from the principle of liberty. They're in it to win the "hearts and minds" of non-libertarians. *shudder*

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    I'm bummed that they didn't include caffeine. Not that I think it would have ranked especially high, but it would have given people a third obvious benchmark against day-to-day experience.

  • ||

    Good call.

  • robc||

    I was thinking the same thing, especially since it was mentioned in the link I posted a few weeks ago about neurogenesis in the hippocampus (alcohol, opiates, nicotine and caffeine supress it, cannabis increases it).

  • BakedPenguin||

    Caffeine is highly addictive, and the physical addiction is quite painful to get rid of.

    But of course, it's a "good" drug.

  • *||

    it's not "highly addictive" - the headache only lasts for 2-3 days after which you're fine

  • ||

    If this is possible with alcohol, it is possible with any intoxicant that large numbers of people have shown an interest in consuming.

    Any? Really? So you can be a social crack smoker, or a moderate smack user?

  • Joe M||

    Yes.

  • ||

    "Yeah, sure, I use junk, but only on weekends. Or when I can steal a TV. But I'm certainly not a junkie!"

  • ||

    I've casually done crack, coke, meth, E, acid, shrooms, K, and probably some others.

    Almost always just on the weekend. And not even every weekend.

  • ||

    I use opiates (Vicodin, Percocet) casually, as well as cocaine. Just because you're a dipshit who can't conceive of other people being able to control themselves doesn't mean that you have any fucking clue about which you speak.

  • ||

    All of my drug usage was social and I've socially used just about everything in that list. Some of them for many years at a stretch. Always on weekends and never at a detriment to myself or my peers.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Another asshole who knows nothing about drugs except what he's seen on cop TV shows and government propaganda.

    I don't like cocaine, but I knew several people in the late 80's who used it heavily. They all eventually grew out of it - none became addicted, none stole money, none died of overdoses, etc. etc.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    "Chipper" is a word sometimes used to describe these people.

  • ||

    Why is that so hard to understand? Do you really think every person who has ever used heroin is a hopeless addict who lives a life of crime to support his habit?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    But...TV told him so.

    And the government...they told him so, too.

    So it has to be true, doesn't it?

  • waffles||

    Why is that so hard to understand?

    Most of us never encounter the so-called "hard drugs", and when we do they are super scary because we have been told all our lives that one does will turn us into a hopeless addict or even kill us. This is the reality of the wall of ignorance created by criminalization of drug use.

  • waffles||

    does = dose

  • ||

    Yeah, I mean I'd count myself in that "underexposed" camp. Pothead though I may be, my drug experience beyond that is a half-dozen shroom trips. Hell, I've only ever seen cocaine twice in my life.

    You're probably right, but it's no excuse -- direct experience isn't required to consider the available evidence.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, the majority of people who use any of those drugs do so in a casual way and don't go on to become addicts.

  • Joe M||

    Damn straight. It's nice to see a chart that finally, correctly places the psychedelics at the low end. They have no harmful physical effects.

  • ||

    Yeah, the treatment of psychedelics is particularly ridiculous, even against the backdrop of general drug war insanity. Nothing scares The Man like a good acid trip, even though the potential for harm is virtually nonexistent.

  • Tim||

    Yes see this.

  • Jane||

    Glad to see those drug criminals have bee rounded up for some good 'ole fashioned severe punishment, to repay their debt to society.

  • Leroy||

    And how exactly have they accrued the 'debt to society'?

  • Jane||

    By abusing drugs and getting other people to use drugs.

  • ||

    I hate people that hurt drugs. Drugs are good and people shouldn't hurt them.

  • Leroy||

    I see... Well if someone forces another person to use drugs at the point of gun (ie with physical coercion), you have a point.

    But that is a different case altogether. If someone voluntarily chooses to ingest a substance, how have they accrued any debt to society? They have hurt no one, caused no one any loss, and have done nothing at all that would give them any sort of 'debt'.

    Please explain.

  • Jane||

    Cause it is illegal.

  • Jane||

    Laws are meant to protect us, when you break the law you are endangering society.

  • Tarzan||

    Me Tarzan.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    So, Jane, if a law were passed requiring everyone to randomly punch a stranger once a day... would you comply?

  • Troll Hunter||

    Don't feed the troll.

  • ||

    Methadone is a full agonist. How do you abuse it?

  • waffles||

    rectally?

  • ||

    Well, maybe you do.

  • ||

    Do you have agonist and antagonist mied up? Or am I missing something here?

  • ||

    mied=mixed

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

  • ||

    +100 for threadjack of the day!

  • Virginia||

    Shrooms and LSD only register on this chart at all because they are so efficient, i.e. impairment of mental functioning... which is why you consume them in the first place.

    Anyone ever take both at the same time?

  • ||

    I don't think I have enough balls to do so, lol.

  • ||

    Why would you ever do that? It would just be wasteful of your supply.

  • Joe M||

    Because of a little thing called synergy.

  • Virginia||

    Say, hypothetically of course, that you and your friend thought the LSD was taking longer than usual and therefore was probably bunk so you ate the shrooms too... only to realize mere minutes later that said LSD was not, indeed, the bunk you thought it was.

  • ||

    That sounds like the beginning to a hilarous story.

    I know another one, about a guy that hadn't done much acid, and was looking at a 4 strip thinking it's so small, this shouldn't do much and then eating it all.

  • Zeb||

    Yes, but the acid was so good I couldn't tell you if there was any advantage to doing so.

  • Paul||

    Anyone ever take both at the same time?

    Fuck no.

  • Almanian||

    Since I gave up cigarettes, I see that I have so many more choices at the "lower end" of the scale.

    I always wanted to try Ecstasy - here we go...!!

  • ||

    The British spell amphetamine with an 'F'?
    It's nice to see tobacco in the middle, rather than calling it the deadliest poison ever known, as is so often done these days.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    It's nice to see tobacco in the middle, rather than calling it the deadliest poison ever known

    It's only a killer because the users are so very persistent: it takes a non-trivial fraction of a normal lifetime to accumulate much risk.

    //killed Granddad Muddy in the end, though. Steady two-pack-a-day user for 'bout sixty years.

  • T||

    Yeah, cigs whacked Grandpa T in the end. But Grandpa T was a guy who would turn off his oxygen bottle to light up a cig. The emphysema didn't get him, tho. The lung cancer did.

  • ||

    At what age is it proper not to blame cigarettes? I had an great-aunt that died of lung cancer at 94, and she smoked like a chimney up until 6 months before she died*.

    It had to be something by then, right?

    *she quit right before being diagnosed...bummer

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    There does come a point when it's one damn thing or another, doesn't there?

    It was an aortic aneurysm that did for Granddad Muddy, and they tell me that only smokers get those, so I don't worry about the age thing.

    He has 88.

    Had quit smoking about ten years before that, then went back to smoking three cigs a day on his doctor's advice because with them his blood pressure was controllable.

  • Robert||

    My father was a doctor, and as anti-smoking as he was (having quit himself over half a century before he died), he considered the problems produced by alcohol to be greater.

    It's all in the weighting. Cigarets may shorten the lives of and cause debility in a greater proportion of their users largely because their frequent, even heavy use fit so easily in a normal lifestyle, while alcohol, when it leads to problems, does so in a way that bothers those around the user to a far greater degree, and also leads to more acute health problems. The only factor that works the other way comes from smoking in bed, and even that is frequently because the person who fell asleep was also drunk.

  • Paul||

    (having quit himself over half a century before he died)

    Imagine how long he'd have lived had he quit earlier.

  • Robert||

    The interesting thing is that he eventually died -- at age 91 -- of lung cancer. A large cell lung cancer, an adenocarcinoma.

  • Paul||

    The health nuts must feel really stupid, lying around the hospital dying of nothing.

  • Tom||

    My drugs of choice remain bacon, Ben & Jerry's, and Krispy Kreme.

  • ||

    Don't worry, my friend. They're coming for you too.

  • ||

    Only when they pry the pig out of my dead hands.

  • Joe M||

    BTW, Saying Yes is an awesome book that everyone should read.

  • Warty||

    Yes, but does the study give alcohol points for giving you super-strength?

  • Jane||

    This study is BS, it is bad science. Alcohol has a long history of safe use in western society, the other drugs cannot be used safely.

  • ||

    Hah, good one!

  • Solanum||

    Jane, you ignorant slut.

  • ||

    +10

  • Adonisus||

    .....juanita?

  • oncogenesis||

    Jane, you're playing a game
    You never can win, girl
    You're stayin' away just so I'll ask you
    Where you been, baby?
    Like a cat and a mouse
    From door to door and house to house
    Don't you pretend you don't know
    What I'm talkin' about

  • ||

    Did anybody watch the new zombie show on AMC last night.

    I give it a tentative 8.5/10 on the basis that it has only been one episode and could get shitty, also obvious cgi was used over make-up many times.

    In its favor though was the fact that it has Lennie James in it, he played Hawkins on Jericho(original badass).
    Pretty violent for teevee as well.

  • Old Mexican||

    Well, if they stick to the obvious production/economic problems of a zombie disaster, then it may still be pretty good. I watched it last night and it was cool when the sheriff lost his horse to the undead - left me wonder if there will be a zombie horse, though...

  • reasonistreason||

    meh, about 6.5

  • ||

    Where's jenkem on the list, that shit has got to be dangerous. Just has to be.

  • ||

    Hey-o!

  • waffles||

    The most dangerous drug to humankind is man himself.

  • ||

    I thought man was The Most Dangerous Game. Not drug.

  • Binky||

    You mean testosterone?

  • waffles||

    What about that drug you extract from the pineal gland of a fresh human corpse? Or do you have to extract it alive? Ah, Adrenochrome. That's the stuff.

  • ||

    Dammit, I was going to say that! Without the gratuitous "himself", of course.

  • waffles||

    I, myself, am fully aware of the redundant and rather unwieldy uses of sloppy language carelessly inserted into each of my posts, here, on this site.

    I type this with a copy of The Elements of Style at my desk. E.B. White is spinning in his grave.

  • ||

    Curious that you would use the word "spinning" in connection with the author of Charlotte's Web.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  • Ironlung||

    The most dangerous animal is me.

  • Binky||

    As usual, defenders of drinking are outraged by the comparison between alcohol and illegal drugs.

    But the defenders of MJ and acid are amused, so it's a wash.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    I just looked closely at the chart. WTF is "loss of tangibles"???

    Must read the article...

  • Zeb||

    I think it is the sort of things that crazy people like us might call "property".

  • T||

    Or is that when you're so blotto/stoned/ tripping that you can't remember where you put the drugs?

  • ||

    Tangibles are glands that produce semen in mammals.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Nope...I'm pretty sure that those are "the resistance".

    Pretty sure.

  • waffles||

    loss of tangibles, then is a very serious consequence of drug use.

  • waffles||

    oh, but that's sexist. can women lose tangibles too?

  • ||

    Not the regular kind.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    The chart in the post does not appear in the published article, nor could I find a description of a measurement of tangibles (or property, 'ya smartass zeb) lost.

  • MattXIV||

    The most confusing one for me is Enviromental Damage, which appears to be neglegible except for booze. Is getting plowed and throwing car batteries into a river part of British drinking culture or something?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    That can't be right. People keep telling me that a single lit cigarette makes Mother Gaia cry...

  • reasonistreason||

    I live not far from a beer factory which constantly churns out smoke and funky smells. I guess the waste resulted after the production of booze by distilleries etc counts as harmful. And there's also the land taken up by crops used to make alcoholic drinks. For example, only 10 % of harvested barley is deemed good enough to be used by brewers.

    Or at least that's what I imagine the science guys look at when weighing the environmental impact. You don't get much of that with drugs concocted in a lab.

  • Paul||

    he also argues that alcoholic beverages are too cheap and too readily available.

    I fucking hate it when this shit comes up, because lawmakers see it as an excuse to crack down on liquor in addition to the drugs which are already illegal.

  • ||

    And while that may be true when it comes to Keystone Lite or Jim Beam, good booze sure ain't cheap. Three Floyds seriously gets people to spend $10 on a 5% ABV Munich Helles??? WTF???

  • ||

    I'd do it once, but with a safe supply of $4 Alpha King, I think I'll survive.

  • Robert||

    I too hate it when the shit comes up.

  • Leaving Las Vegas||

    I see what you did there.

  • GroundTruth||

    Where is caffeine on this list?

  • GroundTruth||

    Woops, see that I missed the comments above. Mea culpa!

  • Corduroy||

    Ittt's in my m m m morning cccccoffee

  • Corduroy||

    Where's airplane glue? Nailpolish remover? Quaaludes get no respect?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    'Ludes went out with disco and polyester pants. They haven't gotten any respect in a generation.

  • djconnor||

    Jacob-- Your link to the study link is bad. You want http://goo.gl/qmuf5.

    You're currently linking to a similarly worded Lancet study from 2007.

  • djconnor||

    Jacob-- Your link to the study link is bad. You want http://goo.gl/qmuf5.

    You're currently linking to a similarly worded Lancet study from 2007.

  • ||

    What is the source for this bar chart? I'm not necessarily questioning Jacob Sullum's conclusion, but no such chart appears in the Lancet article. Figure 1, "Mean harm scores for 20 substances," is similar, but shows Heroin as the most harmful, followed by cocaine, barbiturates, street methadone, and alcohol.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    The source of the chart is the proper paper as linked by djconner. I didn't notice the mis-link earlier...

  • ||

    I was somewhat surprised that dextromethorphan -- i.e., the "fun" ingredient in some OTC cough syrups -- wasn't included in the rankings, given the ease of obtaining it and its potential for recreational (ab)use. Maybe Robotripping has never become a fad among British teens, as it has in the U.S.?

  • ||

    Hmmm, any other scientists here see a problem with how David Nutt combined biological/medical/chemical data with sociological data? ANYONE?

    Come on, is this what passes for science in today's media?

  • thomas sabo||

    thank you

  • Grant||

    Jane, you stupid dumb ignorant bitch. why is there a computer in the kitchen anyway?

  • Troll Hunter||

    Jane is an obvious troll (and a bitch).

  • شات عراقنا||

    thanks

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