Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco

Tom James @ 02-10-2008

Prohibiting the use of heroin and crack is stupid. Prohibition of cannabis is stupid and hypocritical, as further confirmed by a report (link is to background to the report) from the Beckley Foundation:

“Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco,”

The Beckley Foundation, a charitable trust, claimed only two deaths worldwide have been attributed to cannabis, while alcohol and tobacco use together kill an estimated 150,000 people in Britain alone.

“Many of the harms associated with cannabis use are the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment,”

Ending prohibition isn’t like ending climate change – it’s a comparatively straightforward way of solving Mexico’s drugs problems, our drugs problems, and generally making the world a better place.

What does this have to do with science fiction? I hope that prohibition will seem like the product of a dystopian science-fiction novel someday, and join slavery and the divine right of kings on the trash-heap of history.

[via Physorg][image from aforero on flickr]

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9 Responses to “Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco”

  1. Kian says:

    Its a bit of an odd statement though. Only two deaths have been attributed to cannabis however since it is illegal, it is harder to obtain and less freely used. Also what do they actually define as a death due to a drug? Do they mean lung cancer and kidney failure which are directly caused by long term use, and if so how much of the long term effects of cannabis are known?

    I’m not argueing for or against prohibition, Im just not sure that statement can be fully justified.

  2. Paul Raven says:

    And that’s where the anti-prohibition lobbies have always slipped up – by using the same hyperbole as their opponents, they invite easy debunking of their statements and allow the status quo to hold sway. The most sensible argument to use is the old classic “no victim, no crime”. It’s your body; who has the right to tell you what you can use to screw around with it?

    That aside, there’s one simple reason alcohol and tobacco are still legal (and heavily taxed) and cannabis isn’t: growing cannabis is possible almost anywhere in the world with virtually no technical or financial outlay. In other words, impossible for the government to make an income from.

  3. Jo Thomas says:

    About this joining the divine right of kings on the scrap heap… Seeing as it is the standard theme for Tolkienesque “high” fantasy (I actually blame Joan of Arc for this one), does this mean we can look forward to doorstoppers about prohibition?

  4. Sheila Joyce Gibbs says:

    I can remember in grade 6 (back 1965), being taken into the Gym, with all the other students, made to sit and watch a film on LSD. To this day, I can remember how terrified we all were.
    Well, I’ve never heard of LSD for years and years. Why didn’t they do that for Alcohol ??? I have absolutely no recall of ever being warned about that, other than not to get drunk. So, after 30 yrs of drinking socially, never drunk, never out of work, never in the hospital, my late husband & I were both hit permanently & severely with Grand Mal Seizures, from alcohol !
    Gee, if they’d warned us all back then about something that was legal !?! Well, maybe I’d have my health & my beautiful husband back !!!

  5. JasperPants says:

    Paul,

    I disagree…if pot was legal, enterprising individuals would rise up (come out of the shadows?) and offer a far superior product at retail. And people would buy. Here in Ontario, Canada, the LCBO could sell it and make a killing, and the government would collect the taxes. A good business.

    In any event, I think the reason why we will never see pot legal is because governments – especially the US government – has way too much invested in the status quo (Police, law enforcement, anti-drug education…we are talkingbillions of dollars). Yeah, kind of like the Global Warming industry.

    /you knew I would work that in somehow.

  6. Paul Raven says:

    Oh, there’d always be someone offering superior product, of course; but my point is they couldn’t make the taxes too prohibitive, or folk would just grow their own, and that eliminates the use of taxation as a control mechanism.

    /you knew I would work that in somehow.

    To be honest, I thought we’d lost you, you’ve been so quiet of late. That said, I’m not rising to the bait this time; keep it on topic and you might have better luck. 😉

  7. JasperPants says:

    Oh, I drop by once in a while.

    I’ve noticed there are fewer pro-AGW posts lately. Of course there is not much good news out there for your side, missing sunspots and all.

  8. Paul Raven says:

    Leopards have spots as well… 🙂

  9. Babylon says:

    Alcohol is actually easier to produce in the home than marijuana is. Apple cider being the easiest in most respects, a jug of apple juice and some yeast, and yet people still choose to purchase alcohol from the store even though it is taxed at a rate that is usually at or above 100% People aren’t going to wait a few months for their pot plants to grow (well, some will of course, but most wont) nor are they going to want to deal with the fact that it is, actually, a fairly finicky plant. Also, even if no taxes were collected at all this would be a goldmine for the government because of the amount of money they would not be spending on apprehending, trying, and jailing users, growers, and distributors.