A report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy has found that illegal substances like ecstasy and cocaine can have less damaging effects on individuals and communities than tobacco and alcohol.
As a result, they have called for a reclassification of certain drugs that reflects their actual social risk.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy is made up of 14 ex-government officials. Together, they condemned the “incoherence and inconsistencies” of harsh drug laws that are based on “unreliable and scientifically dubious” methods that arbitrarily punish the use of some substances more stringently than others.
The group found that “the current distinction between legal and illegal substances is not unequivocally based on pharmacological research but in large part on historical and cultural precedents.
“It is also distorted by and feeds into morally charged perceptions about a presumed ‘good and evil’ distinction between legal and illegal drugs.”
They are pushing governments to reconsider the classification system for drugs, as well as to create a way to regulate the market of illegal substances.
A 2010 study on the wider dangers of all drugs both to those taking them and wider society put alcohol at the top of the list of most damaging drugs, outranking heroin and crack cocaine.
In the same study, tobacco also came higher on the list than ketamine and mephedrone, although this does not correlate with the punitive legal measures surrounding these drugs.
A prime example of this is LSD and ecstasy, which score as some of the least harmful drugs on the report, but are some of the most strictly regulated around the world as Class A drugs.
To combat this, the Global Commission on Drug Policy recommends that governments move towards “implementing a more rational policy of scheduling, controlling and regulating psychoactive drugs.”