|Ranking by Dangers:|
|UK Legal Ranking by Classes:|
As can be seen, the classification of drugs as illegal is all over the place in comparison to the dangers of the drugs. Which then prompts a straightforward question: so what the hell justifies the illegal list?
There would be some obvious problems with trying to make the illegal list match the danger list. Alcohol is on the left at #5, but on the right at #15. Trying to make alcohol illegal has never worked terribly well -- there's too many social factors in play. So, one could argue that any drug that is less dangerous than alcohol should be made legal. But this would legalize the street use of BZPs, amphetamines, solvents, LSD, and ecstasy, just to name a few. So, that won't fly.
Perhaps instead we should make illegal any drug more dangerous than some threshold. But, ecstasy is, on the left, all the way down at #18. If we want to keep ecstasy illegal, then we would have to make tobacco and alcohol illegal, keep cannabis illegal -- and, basically, only legalize alkyl nitrites and khat (which, I should note, already are legal). So, that doesn't work.
What we have here, I think, is what's technically called a "grain problem". (No, it doesn't have something to do with alcohol.) That is, the filter "danger" is insufficiently fine-grained to filter these drugs into their current legal/illegal categories; but, the filter "illegal" is insufficiently fine-grained to filter these drugs into their current dangerous/not dangerous categories; and, the filter "danger" is insufficiently fine-grained to filter these drugs into a prima facie desirable legal/illegal categories. In other words, even if we accept that the current legal/illegal ratings are not right, just looking at danger isn't going to get us a socially desirable result. The mere fact that some very dangerous drugs are currently legal does not justify making legal more dangerous drugs.
Hence, I would argue that we should stop looking at "danger" as a way to solve the problem, and instead look towards "acceptable risk". For some reason, we consider the use of alcohol and tobacco to be "acceptable risks", but the use of LSD or ecstasy not. We need to get straight why the former are acceptable, and the latter not. It can't be just that the former are less dangerous -- as this list shows, they are not. But: what is it?