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Rationalizing Modern Drug Prejudices

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Rationalizing Modern Drug Prejudices Empty Rationalizing Modern Drug Prejudices

Post by Guest on Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:58 am

How dangerous are different substances compared with each other, and do the laws get it right in banning some substances but not others? This question is not as immediately answerable as it might seem. For a start, no final and absolute answer can ever be given to the age-old question of how relatively dangerous different substances are to each other. Tobacco for instance will likely contribute to a shorter life for half of its smokers while the vast majority of ecstasy users will remain unscathed by the drug. But tobacco doesn’t snatch away a teenager’s soul in the prime of life the way an ecstasy pill might. Nobody has ever died of a marijuana overdose, but people do slip in and out of psychosis and harm themselves while using marijuana – and it likely induces [url= Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-conclusions.pdf]long term psychosis[/url] in predisposed individuals. But how does a life of schizophrenia compare to the risk of a fatal overdose of heroin? Value judgments seem inevitable in trying to establish the relative comparisons between drugs, and any attempt to compare apples and oranges will inevitably fall short of the scientist’s objective goals.

To try to get a grasp on the complexity of this problem, forty scientists met in 2015 to carry out a ‘multi-criteria decision analysis,’ an analysis of drug harms that encompasses multiple categories of harm including mortality rates, bodily damage, dependence, mental impairment, loss of tangibles, relationship breakdowns, injury to others, crime, environmental damage, economic costs and community issues surrounding drug use. Each commonly used drug was looked at and given a harm score on sixteen separate categories of harm, and these scores were then weighted and tabulated together to form an overall harm score:
Rationalizing Modern Drug Prejudices Harm
European ranking of drug harms, 2015

This ranking shouldn’t be over-interpreted as ‘scientific proof’ that one drug is worse than another. Because this sort of analysis requires value judgments as to how separate harm scores are to be weighted, the scientists carrying out this relative ranking found that significantly changing the weights of different categories of harm sometimes led to a different result. Depending on which weights are changed in the sensitivity analysis, alcohol, heroin, crack cocaine and tobacco all vie with each other in the position of overall most harmful drug. But some familiar patterns appear to be constant across all sensitivity analyses. No matter how many variations in weighting procedures were used by these scientists, alcohol always came out as significantly more harmful than marijuana, and staggeringly more harmful than LSD and magic mushrooms.

Great article which shows up the irrational arguments on the prohibition of certain less harmful drugs


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