Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

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Is Alcohol or Cannabis more Harmful?

Friday 7 October 2011

Deciphering the hype from reality with regard to drug use can be a challenge for most of us. Professor David Nutt in the UK has given me permission to post a link to the paper he has co-authored with Ruth Weissenborn that looks at the reality of a comparison of harm caused by two common intoxicants - Alcohol and Cannabis. That paper has been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology under the title 'Popular Intoxicants: what lessons can be learned from the last 40 years of alcohol and cannabis regulation?' Professor Nutt is a strong proponent of evidence based responses, rather than those often based on what might be kindly called hype.

Some interesting comparisons are drawn through assessing the two drugs on a scale that looks at 'harm to user' and 'harm to others'.  The short takeaway for me was that in terms of 'harm to user', alcohol was about two times more harmful than cannabis.  When including 'harm to others', alcohol was about FOUR times more harmful.  As some of you know, my early career was a member of the police force in Victoria.  I can say categorically that when needing to arrest a cannabis intoxicated user, I have no recollection of having any trouble at all.  The same cannot be said for arresting those using alcohol where aggression by the alcohol user was a common experience.  You can download the paper here - many thanks to Prof. David Nutt for providing it to me.  If you'd like to visit his blog go to his wordpress site here


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