A more refined distinction is required to define appropriate drug control measures according to the specific characteristics of substances, their health risks, the dynamics of their markets and their user groups. The classification schedules of the UN 1961 and 1971 Conventions do not provide sufficient differentiation. The consideration of such diverse substances as coca, cocaine, cannabis, opium and heroin in the same schedule, hampers effective policy responses taking account of the different properties and reasons people use them.

  • Politics and science in classifying the dangers of drugs

    Robin Room & Dan I. Lubman
    Evidence Based Mental Health
    November 2010

    There is a long history of psychoactive substances being regarded as dangerous and subsequently being banned or forbidden. Often the bans were introduced on substances new and unfamiliar to a society, which were viewed as more dangerous than substances which were well known and enculturated. With industrialisation and the globalisation brought by European empires, the growing availability of psychoactive substances was increasingly seen as a problem in the 1800s, setting off social and policy reactions – what we know as the temperance movement against alcohol,
    and initial UK legislation limiting the sale of ‘poisons’.

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  • Guidance on the WHO review of psychoactive substances for international control

    WHO EB126/21
    December 17, 2009

    The 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, entrust the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence of the World Health Organization (WHO) with the responsibility of assessing substances for abuse liability in order to make recommendations on their control under the two aforementioned Conventions.

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  • TNI Expert Seminar on the Classification of Controlled Substances

    Transnational Institute
    December 10, 2009

    The classification of drugs has a profound impact on the lives and well-being of individuals across the world and where the classification is incorrect, people suffer unnecessarily. This is an issue that deserves greater public awareness and greater engagement with citizenry and that where such public awareness is in place it should be galvanised in order to work towards a new democratic answer to this difficult situation.

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  • Estimating drug harms: a risky business?

    David Nutt
    Centre for Crime and Justice Studies Briefing 10
    October 2009

    No one is suggesting that drugs are not harmful. The critical question is one of scale and degree. We need a full and open discussion of the evidence and a mature debate about what the drug laws are for - and whether they doing their job? In `Estimating drug harms: a risky business', Professor David Nutt, of Imperial College London argues that the relative harms of legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are greater than those of a number of illegal drugs, including cannabis, LSD and ecstasy.

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  • Ranking van drugs

    Een vergelijking van de schadelijkheid van drugs
    J.G.C. van Amsterdam, A. Opperhuizen, M.W.J. Koeter, L.A.G.J.M. van Aerts & W. van den Brink
    Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

    In its report Ranking of drugs: A comparison of the harmful effects of drugs, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has performed a risk assessment on the harmful effects of 17 drugs plus that of tobacco and alcohol. These 19 items were ranked according to their degree of harm.

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  • Risk assessment of new psychoactive substances

    Operating guidelines
    European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

    The principal aim of these guidelines is to put in place a sound methodological and procedural basis for carrying out each risk assessment. The risk assessment has regard to the health and social risks of the use of, manufacture of, and traffic in the new psychoactive substance, the involvement of organised crime and the possible consequences of control measures. The guidelines were finalised and adopted by the EMCDDA’s Scientific Committee in November 2008.

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  • Risk assessment of khat use in the Netherlands

    A review based on adverse health effects, prevalence, criminal involvement and public order
    E.J.M. Pennings, A. Opperhuizen & J.G.C. van Amsterdam
    Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 52 (2008) 199–207
    August 2008

    In preparing a decision about the legal status of khat in the Netherlands, the Dutch Minister of Health requested CAM (Coordination point Assessment and Monitoring new drugs) to assess the overall risk of khat in the Netherlands. The present paper is a redraft of a report which formed the scientific basis of the risk evaluation procedure (October 2007). This report reviews the scientific data about khat available in the international literature. In addition, the report contains some information specific for the Netherlands (prevalence, availability of khat and public order aspects).

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  • Cannabis: Classification and Public Health

    Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
    April 2008

    The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs reviewed the classification of cannabis in the light of real public concern about the potential mental health effects of cannabis use and, in particular, the use of stronger strains of the drug.

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  • MDMA (‘ecstasy’)

    A review of its harms and classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
    Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
    February 2008

    Due to its prevalence of use, MDMA is a significant public health issue. The Council believes that criminal justice measures will only have limited effect and strongly advises the promulgation of public health messages. It is of vital importance that issues of classification do not detract from messages concerning public health.

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  • Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse

    David Nutt, Leslie A King, William Saulsbury & Colin Blakemore
    The Lancet Vol 369
    March 24, 2007

    Drug misuse and abuse are major health problems. Harmful drugs are regulated according to classification systems that purport to relate to the harms and risks of each drug. However, the methodology and processes underlying classification systems are generally neither specified nor transparent, which reduces confidence in their accuracy and undermines health education messages.

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