Last week we talked about Professor David Nutt, the (former) chairman of the Britisch Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He accused ex-Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of “devaluing” scientific research and making an “artificial” separation of alcohol and tobacco from illegal drugs.
Professor Nutt used a lecture at King’s College in London and a briefing paper to attack the way British politicians ignore scientific evidence and the contradictory and incoherent nature of the U.K’s current drug policy.
Alan Johnson, the current British home secretary, has asked Professor Nutt to resign because his comments “damage efforts to give the public clear messages about the dangers of drugs”.
We feel the message David Nutt was trying to get across couldn’t be any clearer. Some of the most harmful drugs are legal, while other less harmful drugs are illegal. How is this not clear, Mr Johnson?
Anger over the “disgraceful” decision by the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, to remove Professor David Nutt could lead to a meltdown in the 40-year-old organisation. As many as six of its scientists may resign from the independent organisation, putting further pressure on the Government over its handling of the affair.
The row has wider ramifications for the relationship between politicians and scientists, many of whom are concerned at Mr Johnson’s reaction to Professor Nutt’s comments. Dr King said: “Academics, medics and others are going to ask themselves if they want to serve on these agencies without payment, on their own time and expense, when the advice that they produce is routinely ignored.”
Dr Les King, a respected chemist and former head of the Drugs Intelligence Unit in the Forensic Science Service, said; “What we say is objective and evidence-based. Sometimes people do not want to hear that. The Government has a statutory obligation to consult the council before it makes any changes to the classification of drugs – the Misuse of Drugs Act is clear about that. If significant figures resign, it cannot function any more, and without a change to the Act of Parliament the Government cannot make any changes.” Members of the council, which meets twice a year, are due to gather again on 10 November, when discussions will be dominated by Professor Nutt’s sacking. But the resignations are likely to occur sooner, said Dr King.
Read the full article on independent.co.uk