STUDY: Alcohol More Harmful Than Crack And Heroin

CNN: Alcohol ranks “most harmful” among a list of 20 drugs — beating out crack and heroin — according to study results released by a British medical journal. A panel of experts weighed the physical, psychological, and social problems caused by the drugs and determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall, according to an article on the study released by The Lancet Sunday. Using a new scale to evaluate harms to individual users and others, alcohol received a score of 72 on a scale of 1 to 100, the study says. That makes it almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco, according to the article, which is slated to be published on The Lancet’s website Monday and in an upcoming print edition of the journal. Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals, the study says, while alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others. In the article, the panelists said their findings show that Britain’s three-tiered drug classification system, which places drugs into different categories that determine criminal penalties for possession and dealing, has “little relation to the evidence of harm.” MORE

RELATED: Marijuana legalization advocates are complaining that part of the alcohol industry has invested $10,000 in defeating Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure on California’s ballot this November. California Beer and Beverage Distributors made a $10,000 contribution Sept. 7 to Public Safety First, the main coalition opposing Prop. 19. “Unless the beer distributors in California have suddenly developed a opposition to the use of intoxicating substances, the motivation behind this contribution is clear,” Marijuana Policy Project government relations director Steve Fox said in a news release. “Plain and simple, the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition.” MORE

RELATED: Zack Galifianakis took a stand during a conversation about marijuana legalization on “Real Time With Bill Maher” on Friday night. There to promote his new film, “Due Date,” Zack joined in on the debate over Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in California. “The Hangover” star then pulled out a joint and proceeded to take a hit. He then passed it off to conservative Republican Margaret Hoover, who took a sniff and mouthed, “It’s real.” MORE

RELATED: With just days to go before the election, the proposition that would legalize marijuana for recreational use seems to be losing steam. The new Field Poll out Sunday found 49 percent of likely voters oppose Proposition 19, while 42 percent support it.  That is the exact opposite of a poll taken in September. This week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder took some of the teeth out of the idea.  Holder said the Justice Department would “vigorously enforce” federal marijuana laws here in California if voters approved Prop 19. MORE

RELATED: I have come to California to see a quasi-underground horticultural marvel: growers, breeders and dispensers who have quietly brought the hemp plant to a level not seen in its rocky 6,500-year history with humankind. When alcohol was chased underground during Prohibition, the resulting clandestine booze was notoriously rank — the paint-stripping moonshine, the barely drinkable homemade wine. Marijuana, however, has undergone radical advances since the war on drugs sent it deep into the shadows 25 years ago. In the now semi-open marijuana landscape of Northern California, I find a plant species transformed. Skilled mom-and-pop breeders have developed hundreds of high-performing cultivated varieties, and home hobbyists have grown them to perfection using new techniques and technologies. Marijuana has never been more potent, more productive and more varied in its appearance, flavor and effect. It is twice as productive as in the 1980s and three or more times as potent. As the supply has increased, the value has dropped or stagnated, from $5,000 a pound 15 years ago to about $3,000 By the ounce, Ramsay says, the choicest varieties still sell for as much as $400, but the cannabis connoisseur can pick up high-grade strains for half that amount today. MORE

RELATED: Marijuana use peaked in the late 1970s, when 60 percent of high school seniors had admitted to smoking pot. Then the baby boomers grew up, Nancy Reagan just said no, and for those outside this counterculture, the drug world seemed an unappetizing food chain, with violent drug cartels at one end and dopey kids at the other. Marijuana, of course, did not go away but flourished underground. Ironically, the government’s international war on drugs proved an enormous boon to marijuana cultivation in the United States. By 2002, as much as 10,000 metric tons of cannabis were cultivated annually, according to a government estimate. Jon Gettman, a criminal justice scholar, used this figure to argue that marijuana had become the nation’s biggest cash crop, with a conservative value of $35 billion at a time when the corn harvest was $23 billion and soybeans $17.6 billion. MORE

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