New Drug Harm Charts/Graphs/Data Reflect Favourably on Psychedelics & Cannabis

Following our previous article: ‘Drug Harm Charts & Psychedelics‘ – we present new research demonstrating the claim that psychedelics are much safer than other recreational drugs and that their ‘Class-A’ classification is therefore indefensible.

The original research paper can be found here: ‘Quantifying the RR of harm to self and others from substance misuse: results from a survey of clinical experts across Scotland’



Objective To produce an expert consensus hierarchy of harm to self and others from legal and illegal substance use.

Design Structured questionnaire with nine scored categories of harm for 19 different commonly used substances.

Setting/participants 292 clinical experts from across Scotland.

Results There was no stepped categorical distinction in harm between the different legal and illegal substances. Heroin was viewed as the most harmful, and cannabis the least harmful of the substances studied. Alcohol was ranked as the fourth most harmful substance, with alcohol, nicotine and volatile solvents being viewed as more harmful than some class A drugs.


The harm rankings of 19 commonly used substances did not match the A, B, C classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The legality of a substance of misuse is not correlated with its perceived harm. These results could inform any legal review of drug misuse and help shape public health policy and practice.


The main outcome of this study is a ranking by Scottish addiction experts of 19 recreational drugs according to their mean harm score. Two hundred and ninety-two addiction multidisciplinary experts across Scotland were involved making it the largest national panel to be involved in this type of study.

What you read here, and in the full research article if you chose to read it, is the view of trained professionals and experts – it is not conjecture, it is not biased, it is not based on political standpoint.

Quantifying the RR of harm to self and others from substance misuse: results from a survey of clinical experts across Scotland

What this suggests about Psychedelic Drugs:

  • Magic mushrooms are amongst the safest of all recreational drugs: their class-A rating is therefore a mistake.
  • Magic mushrooms are safer than all other drugs (except for cannabis): psilocybin mushrooms (a form of psychedelic drug) are significantly safer than tobacco or alcohol.
  • Magic mushrooms are safer than a medication currently prescribed to children on the NHS and by health-services around the world: Ritalin.
  • LSD is safer than tobacco or alcohol. Of 19 drugs it was the 4th least dangerous to the individual users themselves.
  • LSD and Magic Mushrooms (the only psychedelics in this study) are both class-A drugs, despite the ranking  in this study, and in other studies.


If we take the examples of Cannabis (1.7 harm score) & Alcohol (2.6 harm score): do these average ratings of experts’ opinions of harm make any sense?

The estimated number of death from alcohol each year is between 30-40,000 , whilst there are no recorded deaths that result directly from cannabis. Surely alcohol’s harm rating ought to be many times greater than that of cannabis?

Further, whilst this study aims and (to some extent) succeeds in reflecting the relative harms of each drug: we must remember that many of the 19 drugs mentioned also have social and medical benefits that need to be factored in to policy making decisions.

We at Cognitive Liberty UK argue that this research is a part of a growing body of evidence which suggest that LSD& Magic Mushrooms, due to their comparatively low risks/dangers, and their proven efficacy as treatments for use in clinical psychology, should be downgraded from Class-A drugs. At the very least psychedelics should be downgraded to Class-C drugs, as an initial step towards re-integrating them into society.

  1. Raw said:

    It’s funny that barbituates aren’t #1
    There’s good reason we give out benzos thesedays instead of barbs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: