Drug danger ratings

Following on from the surprisingly hard-hitting "Drug classification: making a hash of it?" report, it came to light that Government advisors had indeed had a vaguely sensible go at working out which drugs were more dangerous than others, politics aside(ish).

Unsurprisingly, it turned out that the level of danger of the drug did in no way reflect either whether it was illegal in the UK, or how illegal it was. The report had apparently been deemed too "controversial" and hence ignored.

Amazingly - and if true, disgustingly - this has been reported as the "first scientific assessment of 20 legal and illegal stimulants used in contemporary Britain". Nearly forty years of abject and harmful drug policy failure under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and this is the first time the advisors thought to check out whether or not certain drugs were dangerous.

The research was carried out by David Nutt from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and Colin Blakemore of the Medical Research Council. They used a numeric analysis to give a value of "harm" to each drug. The outputted figures ranged from 0.8 to 2.75. One assumes the methodology was at least similar to that discussed in the aforementioned report which analysed drug harm based on 9 subcategories of three main strands - physical harm, dependence and social harms.

Poorhouse readers are no doubt eager to hear the results. A full explanatory article from the Independent can be seen here (it being subscription only on their site), but in summary these are the results. The classification column shows the current legal status of the drug in the UK. Class A – C are the illegal drugs, with A supposedly being the most dangerous. L means that the drug is currently legal, and hence presumably less dangerous.

Rank Drug Classification Danger Value
1 Heroin A 2.75
2 Cocaine A 2.25
3 Barbiturates B 2.10
4 Street Methadone A 1.90
5 Alcohol L 1.85
6 Ketamine C 1.80
7 Benzodiazopines C 1.75
8 Amphetamines B/A 1.70
9 Tobacco L 1.65
10 Buprenorphine C 1.55
11 Cannabis C 1.40
12 Solvents L 1.35
13 4-M TA A 1.30
14 LSD A 1.25
15 Methylphenidate B 1.20
16 Anabolic Steroids C 1.15
17 GHB C 1.10
18 Ecstasy A 1.05
19 Alkyl Nitrites L 0.95
20 Khat L 0.80


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