Alcohol more harmful than cannabis – expert
Publish date: 07 August 2017
Issue Number: 737
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
British psychiatrist and neuro-psycho-pharmacologist Professor David Nutt claims alcohol does more harm than cannabis. ‘A society where cannabis replaced alcohol would be a nicer place to live and would have better health benefits and less health harms, and should be considered,’ Nutt told the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria). A News24 report says he was testifying for ‘dagga couple’ Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, who are trying to have cannabis legalised for use, cultivation and distribution. Nutt said there were 16 ‘harms’ a drug could do: nine to users, and seven to society. The former include shorter lifespan, health damage, and loss of jobs and homes. Harms to society include crime, damage to communities, families and the environment. ‘In several expert groups evaluating the harms of alcohol and cannabis, it turns out there is a not a single harm out of the whole 16 that cannabis causes more of than alcohol. For the majority of harms, cannabis is significantly less harmful than alcohol,’ said Nutt. In chronic users, alcohol was two to three times more harmful than cannabis, causing brain damage, liver sclerosis, ulcers and high blood pressure. ‘We know from international data that you are four times more likely to have a road traffic accident if you are drunk than if you are stoned. Alcohol has more impact on domestic violence than all other drugs put together.’ The report notes Nutt is due to continue his evidence-in-chief today, before being cross-examined by the state.