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Alcohol 100 times more deadly than cannabis, study finds

CAMPAIGNERS HAVE called on the government to relax cannabis laws after a study found it was 114 times safer than alcohol.

The report, led by Dr Dirk Lachenmeier of the Technische Universitat Dresden in Germany, has prompted advocates to question why alcohol is legal in the UK and cannabis remains a class B drug – upgraded from class C in 2009 when it was deemed more harmful.

As part of the research, scientists examined drugs ranging from alcohol and tobacco to ecstasy and heroin, comparing known lethal doses and the average amount used to find which substances posed the biggest problems to society.

Cannabis was found to be the only drug that posed a low mortality risk to users, while alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin all fell into the 'high risk' category for individuals. Alcohol posed a 'high risk' in terms of population exposure.

Lachenmeier warned that the results should not be taken to mean that moderate, regular heroin use was safer than moderate, regular alcohol use.

But added that finding point towards the need that governments should focus more on tackling problems caused by alcohol and cigarettes than on banning substances.

Writing in the Scientific Reports Journey, he explained: “The results confirm that the risk of cannabis may have been overestimated in the past. In contrast, the risk of alcohol may have been commonly underestimated.

"Our findings should not be interpreted that moderate alcohol consumption poses a higher risk to an individual and their close contacts than regular heroin use. Much of the harm from drug use is not inherently related to consumption, but is heavily influenced by the environmental conditions of the drug use.”

The war on drugs has been branded by many, including UK comic Russell Brand, as a failed endeavour.

The legislation of cannabis in selected US states has proved progressive while the debate in the UK is yet to be opened up.

Lachenmeier advised: “Currently, the results point to risk management prioritisation towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs. The values of cannabis, which are in a low-risk range, suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach.”

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