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article imageStudy Says Cannabis Less Harmful Than Tobacco, Alcohol

By Bob Ewing     Oct 2, 2008 in Health
The Beckley Foundation claimed only two deaths worldwide have been attributed to cannabis, while alcohol and tobacco used together kill an estimated 150,000 people in Britain alone.
Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and this calls for a "serious rethink" of drug policy.
The report was produced by the Beckley Foundation, a charity, which numbers senior experts and other academics among its advisers. The report said banning cannabis has no impact on supply and turns users into criminals.
"Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco," says the report by the Foundation's Global Cannabis Commission.
The British government is pressing for cannabis to be re-classified in law as a Class B drug compared with its current, less serious, Class C classification.
Authorities have become concerned because of the growing prevalence of the potent "skunk" form of the drug. Around 80 per cent of cannabis seizures are of this strain, said to be linked to mental health problems, official figures show.
The Beckley Foundation is a charitable trust and claimed only two deaths worldwide have been attributed to cannabis, while alcohol and tobacco used together kill an estimated 150,000 people in Britain alone.
"Many of the harms associated with cannabis use are the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment," it said.
"It is only through a regulated market that we can better protect young people from the ever more potent forms of dope," it added.
The decision to reclassify cannabis upwards into the more punitive Class B category -- which includes amphetamines represents a U-turn for the Labour government.
Cannabis was downgraded from Class B when Tony Blair was prime minister, but in June 2007, Gordon Brown announced a review of its status.
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