Third International Seminar of the series ‘Society and Drugs: A Rational Perspective’

House of Lords, London, 25 October 2004.


It is often assumed the term “drugs” refers only to illegal substances but this seminar focused on the comparison between alcohol, a legal and acceptable drug in modern society, and other social drugs, both legal and illegal. The rationale was that a balanced and encompassing view of illicit drugs can only be established if set in a context of their legal counterparts. This gathering was welcomed as an occasion to bring a rational debate to a subject that often elicits more emotion than understanding.


Lord Wilson of Dinton & Sir Michael Rawlins

Alcohol and the Brain, Prof David Nutt, University of Bristol
Comparing Cannabis and Alcohol, Prof Leslie Iversen, University of Oxford
Alcohol and Physical Health: A complex equation, Prof Ian Gilmore, Royal Liverpool University Hospital
The Dangers of Alcohol and Costs to the NHS, Prof Colin Drummond, St George’s Hospital Medical School
Treatment Strategies and Individual Differences, Dr Jonathan Chick, University of Edinburgh
The Economics of Alcohol Compared to Other Drugs, Prof Christine Godfrey, University of York
Why Alcohol Is Legal and Other Drugs Are Not, Prof Virginia Berridge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Towards a Pragmatic Policy, Hazel Blears MP, Minister of State for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety
Costs and Benefits of Alcohol and Drugs Policies, Mike Trace
A Scientifically Based Scale of Harm for All Social Drugs, Prof Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive, Medical Research Council

Download the whole Proceedings Document

Download Executive Summary by Amanda Feilding – Director of the Beckley Foundation

Download biographies of speakers

Download a list of participants in the seminar

Download references

Download preface