Drug Harm Charts & Psychedelics

This article compares charts that display the relative harms of drugs, some of which are banned, some of which are legal. These charts come from different sources in the scientific community, they seem to present coherent findings. The implications of these findings on the psychedelic class of drugs will then be discussed.

Chart 1

Source: Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs

Nov, 2010

Chart 2

Source: Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs

Nov, 2010

Chart 3

Source: Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs

Chart 4

Source: The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)

Important things to consider:

Aspects like crime, economic cost, international damage and loss of relationships are based on the current legal status in Britain, not the potential under legalization or decriminalization.

In a society that conditions people to believe that there is a high risk of having bad experiences when they use psychedelics, the chance of that occurring, and subsequent psychological damage occurring, is increased. This can be viewed as a form of the nocebo effect.

Drug harm charts do not take into account the benefits that result from the use of some drugs.


  1. LSD and Magic Mushrooms (two classic psychedelics) are ranked amongst the least harmful of psychoactive substances.
  2. Risks associated with psychedelics, whilst small, are mainly towards the user and not towards others.
  3. Harms causes by psychedelics ‘drug related impairment of cognitive functions’ are far more ambiguous than those caused by other substances.
  4. Despite the low risks associated with LSD and Magic Mushrooms they are both class-A drugs, the highest legal classification.
  5. Alcohol and Tobacco are more harmful to both oneself and others than LSD or Magic Mushrooms. The government’s approach to controlling substances is inconsistent and fails to cohere with overwhelming scientific evidence.
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