Development of a Rational Scale to Assess the Harm of Drugs of Potential Misuse

David Nutt et al., “Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse,” The Lancet 369 (March 24, 2007): 1047-1053.

While governments, in this case the UK, use harm-based assessments of pharmaceuticals, illicit drugs seem to be classified arbitrarily. Here the authors collaborated with doctors and other experts to develop a nine category, harm-based ranking for recreational drugs. The UK's official ranking under its Misuse of Drugs Act (Britain's national law on illicit drugs, similar in structure to the U.S.'s Controlled Substances Act) did not match up with this harm-based model at all. For example, tobacco and alcohol were ranked by doctors as more harmful than marijuana and some other the criminalized substances.

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