Report: Marijuana Less Harmful than Alcohol or Tobacco

A report issued by a British research foundation concludes that alcohol and tobacco use present much greater risks than the use of marijuana, AFP reported Oct. 3.

The report from the Beckley Foundation said that although marijuana use can have negative effects on physical and mental health, “in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco.” The Foundation's Global Cannabis Commission said that banning marijuana has little effect on either the supply or demand for the drug, and instead leads to user criminalization.

The research claimed only two deaths worldwide could be directly attributed to marijuana each year, while 150,000 people in Britain die from alcohol and tobacco. “Many of the harms associated with cannabis use are the result of prohibition itself,” the report stated, “particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment.”

The British government has been pressing for a reclassification of cannabis as a Class B drug, a more serious rating than its current Class C designation. The Foundation's researchers have called for a serious rethinking of the nation's drug policies.

The report will be submitted as part of the United Nations' 2009 Review of Global Drug Policy.

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