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Drug researcher David Nutt says Britain should adopt a more tolerant stance towards marijuana.
The introduction of Dutch-style cannabis "coffee shops" in Britain would help cut down on alcohol consumption and its attendant hospitalization and policing costs, an expert told legislators Tuesday.
British psychologist David Nutt was formerly head of the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which recommends how to classify various substances, but was dismissed after he made controversial remarks on how horseback riding is statistically more risky than taking Ecstasy.
Nutt pointed out to the Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons that police costs associated with marijuana top out at around £500 million ($783 million) a year, while the police spend about £6 billion each year on enforcing alcohol laws, the Guardian reported.
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Last year, Nutt examined the comparative effects of alcohol and cannabis policy in a paper in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. He found that the number of hospital admissions in the UK for marijuana is a thousand times less than hospital admissions for alcohol-related incidents, and pointed out that alcohol contributes to domestic violence, traffic accidents, lingering liver disease and other illnesses.
"Estimating the true relative harms of alcohol and cannabis is not easy as there are no societies today where the two drugs are equally available. However where neither are legal -- as in some Islamic states -- alcohol appears to cause more dependence than cannabis, even in Morocco, a traditional cannabis-growing country," Nutt wrote on his website.
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