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. The assessment was performed by a panel of 19 experts who based their judgement on their own scientific expertise and information derived from the literature. The assessment focussed on the following three categories:
- toxicity (acute toxicity and chronic toxicity)
- potential for dependency,
- social harm at individual and population levels.
Purple: Physical damage
Orange: Individual Social damage
Green: Population social damage
Dependency is not displayed in the image above.
The most important conclusions drawn from the assessment are as follows.
Firstly, alcohol, tobacco, heroin and crack scored relatively high on the scale for Total harm, whereas magic mushrooms, LSD and khat scored relatively low.
Secondly, the scores of the Dutch expert panel correspond well with
previous findings from British experts as well as previous advice from the Dutch Coordination point Assessment Monitoring new drugs (CAM).
Thirdly, classed as legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco have been judged by the experts as more harmful than many of the illegal drugs included in the assessment –with the exception of heroin and crack. This accounts for the Total harm at individual and population levels.
Finally, regarding Total harm at individual level, cannabis and ecstasy have been assessed by the experts as moderately harmful.
The study is remarkable, as Dutch drug policy has been making a U-turn in the last 7 years. Magic mushrooms (Paddo's in Dutch) have been banned last December. This study shows magic mushrooms are at the lower end of the risk spectrum, while legal drugs like tobacco(Tabak in Dutch) are much more harmful.
The study can be found in the Document archive.