French report says alcohol is more dangerous

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The Independent Online
A STUDY commissioned by the French government has concluded that cannabis is the least dangerous of all potentially addictive illegal substances. It is also significantly less dangerous than alcohol, it found.

As a result, the authors of the study have questioned the way that cannabis is criminally classified - since, in France, decisions about the legality of a drug are all made on the basis of its ability to induce dependence.

The panel of scientists commissioned by the health minister Bernard Kouchner, looked at all the current scientific literature on the psychological and physical dependency caused by drugs, at their neural and general toxicity, and at their social effects.

They then grouped the substances together into three main categories according to their danger level.

Cannabis was the only drug which the team of 10, headed by Bernard-Pierre Roques, of the Rene Descartes University of Paris, placed in the "least dangerous" category. The panellists gave it a rating of "weak" when it came to both social hazardousness and addictiveness and "very weak" when it came to general toxicity. They gave it a complete "zero" for neurotoxicity - the detrimental effect on the health of the brain.

Alcohol, in contrast, was placed in the most dangerous category along with heroin and cocaine because of its strong toxicity and its "very strong" addictiveness.

Stimulants like amphetamines, hallucinogens and tobacco - because of its "very strong" addictiveness and toxicity - were placed in the middle category.