...the ISCD [Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs] has returned to the fray with what is called multicriteria decision analysis.
This approach includes 16 criteria including a drug's affects on users' physical and mental health, social harms including crime, "family adversities" and environmental damage, economic costs and "international damage".
The scientists, based on their expert knowledge, score a substance on each category from zero to 100...
The problem remains, however, of how much weight to give each of these categories.
"The weighting process is necessarily based on judgement, so it is best done by a group of experts working to consensus," the report authors say.
"Extensive sensitivity analyses on the weights showed that this model is very stable; large changes, or combinations of modest changes, are needed to drive substantial shifts in the overall rankings of the drugs."
What emerges is a ranking of drugs at complete odds with the official Home Office classification system.
The fact that alcohol emerges as the most harmful drug leads the authors to conclude that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy" but its place at the head of the table also suggests a legal status in stark contrast to the much less harmful effect of Class A drugs including ecstasy and LSD.
It is also notable that cocaine and tobacco emerge with very similar rankings in terms of harm...