“You Can’t Have Politicians Stepping Into the Scientific Arena”

The sacked Professor David Nutt has turned the tables on Alan Johnson.  Johnson keeps repeating angrily that the professor should stay out of politics, the professor is squarely saying that politicians should stay out of the science. Dr. Les King has followed the professor and resigned as a government adviser, a third adviser Marion Walker, is said to be going. Drugs policy in this country is mad. You can get 5 years jail time for smoking a spliff, something millions of Britons do regularly. We hear baseless political propaganda about “skunk” and schizophrenia. The scientists have determined what users already knew, that this scare is myth. Professor David Nutt’s Eve Saville Lecture 2009 – the source of the controversy – is clear on this:

… schizophrenia seems to be disappearing (from the general population) even though cannabis use has increased markedly in the last 30 years. When we were reviewing the general practice research database in the UK from the University of Keele, research consistently and clearly showed that psychosis and schizophrenia are still on the decline. So, even though skunk has been around now for ten years, there has been no upswing in schizophrenia. In fact, where people have looked, they haven’t found any evidence linking cannabis use in a population and schizophrenia.

This was the Jacqui Smith and David Cameron excuse to justify their hypocrisy, dope today was different from the dope of their youth, skunk was supposedly some kind of dangerous super-marijuana.  Hypocritically Cameron was, according to his Etonian contemporaries that Guido has interviewed, a regular toker.  A bit of spliff didn’t seem to stop him getting into Oxford or getting a first in PPE.   He really does know better.

DruggiesIf things had gone slightly differently for David Cameron instead of being on the verge of becoming PM, he could be yet another former public school boy who ended up squandering his privileges and doing jail time for possession of cannabis and cocaine. The current President of America could just be another black ex-con from a broken home. Our drugs policy can not be determined by the Daily Mail’s Paul Dacre, who lives in an alternative drug-free reality.  Gordon Brown’s Calvinist mores don’t permit any room for people to do recreational drugs and his misguided claim that cannabis is lethal is just wrong.  Tobacco and alcohol kill far more people than all the other illegal recreational drugs combined.  Psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms have been used by Britons for millenia, used by druids in the only indigenous religious ceremonies we have because they are found naturally all over these isles.  Guido has munched them on golf courses.  This has now been criminalised.

Nice people do drugs.  We need a grown up political conversation that shifts problem drug addicts out of the criminal judicial system and into the healthcare system.  The same as we do for alcoholics.  The lesson of Galileo should teach politicians that sacking scientists won’t make the earth flat.  Time to deal with the reality, not Dacre’s drug fantasies.

Source : [pdf] Estimating drug harms: a risky business? Professor David Nutt Eve Saville Lecture 2009



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