The article claims that "In the UK, the total burden of drug misuse, in terms of health, social, and crime-related costs, has been estimated to be between £10 billion and £16 billion per year."
It proposes that drugs should be classified by the amount of harm they do, rather than "A", "B", and "C" divisions in the UK Misuse of Drugs Act. The three main factors that determine the harm associated with any drug of potential abuse are: physical harm to the individual user caused by the drug; tendency of the drug to induce dependence and addiction; and effect of drug use on families, communities, and society. Each of these factors is further broken down into three sections.
Based on assessments from independent experts and specialist addiction psychiatrists, drugs were then ranked according to these nine parameters. Alcohol and tobacco are considered alongside other drugs in the rankings.
Of the twenty substances examined, alcohol was ranked fifth most harmful (behind heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and street methodone) and tobacco came in ninth (behind ketamine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine).
4-MTA, LSD and Ecstasy (all considered "Class A" drugs under the Act) all ranked lower than alcohol and tobacco. From the article: "Overall there was a surprisingly poor correlation between drugs' class according to the Misuse of Drugs Act and harm score."
As someone who supports an end to the "War on Drugs", it would be nice if this article leads to a more rational examination of drug policy both here in the UK and abroad; I am not holding my breath though.