Employing a unique method to measure the risk of mortality linked with the use of different legal and illegal drugs, scientists have affirmed what earlier studies have pointed out: alcohol is the deadliest, while marijuana is the least risky.

As per the study, at the individual level, booze presents the highest risk of death, followed by nicotine, cocaine and heroin, indicating the risks of alcohol consumption have probably been underestimated in the past. Marijuana was discovered as relatively less deadly and sat at the other end of the spectrum, in agreement with previous research which has consistently ranked it as the safest recreational drug. This perhaps is something governments won’t like to hear, still it highlights the need to use scientific evidence whilst creating policies regarding the use of licit and illicit drugs.

Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol
Photo credit: Kunertus / Shutterstock

It looks like much of the world made up their mind a long time ago about the dangers of illegal substances. This, combined with the reality that it’s hard to assess and classify the risk of drug abuse in people, implies that not many studies exist in which scientists have compared the dangers of different drugs. Besides, since illegal drug abuse is considered a bigger problem for society than using other known harmful substances, like alcohol and even various prescription drugs, governments have elected to adopt restrictive policies that are more often than not based on emotion and educated guesses.

The scientists found that at the level of individual use, four substances were classified as high risk: alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin. The rest of them fell into the so-called “risk” category. But, if we examine the risks for the population rather than the individual, only alcohol was deemed high risk. The results suggest that cannabis is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol and was the only drug out of those examined to pose a low risk of death.

The researchers however warn that the results do not mean, in any way, that drinking a moderate amount of booze is worse than taking heroin. A lot of the harm related with drug use is not caused by the drug itself, but rather the environment in which it is taken. Like, sharing dirty needles, and this wasn’t taken into account by the study.

Whilst this study sought to address criticisms of previous work, and yet still produced identical results, it’s vital to note that it still has important limitations, some of which the authors have identified in the publication. For instance, studies probing the long-term effects of drugs are lacking, implying the only risk they could assess was death, rather than cancer incidence, to name just one. Besides, although cannabis was regarded as the least risky, the study did not take into account the method of cannabis use. When in fact the elements of cannabis may not pose significant health risks, smoking cannabis poses a risk because of the inhalation of irritants. Instead eating it would be a safer route of exposure, but this is not addressed by the authors.

The message, according to authors that the study conveys is that time would be better spent focusing on managing the risks of alcohol and tobacco, rather than illegal drugs. Apart from that they recommend that for low risk drugs like marijuana, regulation rather than prohibition would be a better and more justified approach.

source :- Scientific Reports Washington Post

http://www.aartiinformatics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/shutterstock_158845502.jpghttp://www.aartiinformatics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/shutterstock_158845502-300x300.jpgAarti InformaticsHEALTHis marijuana safe,marijuana,marijuana safe,medical marijuana,medicinal marijuanaEmploying a unique method to measure the risk of mortality linked with the use of different legal and illegal drugs, scientists have affirmed what earlier studies have pointed out: alcohol is the deadliest, while marijuana is the least risky. As per the study, at the individual level, booze presents the...Daily News, News Magazine, Online Magazine