October 31st, 2009

Of Messenger Shooters

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

We saw another example of the true colours of this government today when they sacked Professor David Nutt, the government’s chief drugs advisor after he failed to come up with the research results the government wanted on how dangerous cannabis is.

Cannabis was reclassified some years ago from a Class B to a Class C drug with guidance that the police did no more than ‘told people off’ for smoking it. This didn’t go down well in some circles, as the government realised that it might lose a few votes for doing this as clearly cannabis sends everyone mental & leads to society falling over. The government decided to reclassify it back to class B despite the fact that it’s own scientific advisory body found it was no more dangerous than when the government realised it wasn’t so dangerous as to remain a Class B drug & shifted it down the scale. Unsurprisingly, nobody in the government has taken any responsibility for making a mistake in the whole issue.

Professor Nutt said on Radio 4: “He (Gordon Brown) is the first prime minister, this is the first government, that has ever in the history of the Misuse of Drugs Act gone against the advice of its scientific panel.

“And then it did it again with ecstasy and I have to say it’s not about [me] overstepping the line, it’s about the government overstepping the line. They are making scientific decisions before they’ve even consulted with their experts.

“I know that my committee was very, very upset by the attitude the prime minister took over cannabis. We actually formally wrote to him to complain about it,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them stepped down. Maybe all of them will.”

Home Secretary, Alan Johnson said in a letter to Nutt:  “It is important that the government’s messages on drugs are clear and as an adviser you do nothing to undermine the public understanding of them,” Johnson wrote to Nutt.

“As my lead adviser on drugs harm I am afraid the manner in which you have acted runs contrary to your responsibilities.

“I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to advise me as chair of the ACMD.”

I think the only confusion the public will have is if the experts say Cannabis should remain as a Class C drug, why are the government putting it back to Class B? Surely, the idea of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is to provide independent scientific evidence-based advice, not to cow-tow to whatever the government wants that research to say.

King’s College Centre for Drime & Justice’s director said: “I’m shocked and dismayed that the home secretary appears to believe that political calculation trumps honest and informed scientific opinion.” while Professor Colin Blakemore, ex chief executive of the Medical Research Council said: “If ministers decide to go against the recommendations of their own experts, I really think the public is entitled to know why.”

I think we know why, professor; votes.

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12 comments

  1. R/T says:

    It does seem to be a bit of a fuck up. Mind you, you have to remember that skunk (the majority of current blow) is a lot, lot stronger than the stuff you and I (metaphorically speaking, of course!) used to do. Just my 2 cents.

    November 1st, 2009 at 01:33

  2. Civ_In_The_City says:

    With 40% of people wanting Creationism discussed in school science lessons maybe the government has got the right measure of the general public and its ability to accept scientific facts over popular wisdom.

    Politicians don`t ban anything or give anything away unless there is political advantage to be had from it. Every utterance is a gamble on their part. That`s why they ‘leak’ proposals for this and that and then watch the reaction from us lot to see if they should follow through with their plans.

    And they never explain themselves properly anyway. They never explain their ‘workings out’ so we can follow their thought processes and logic. Probably because there isn`t much of either (see previous paragraph).

    Bottom line, there`s no point in having more than two classifications of drugs. Legal and illegal. And, even bottomer line, nobody takes a blind bit of notice anyway.

    With our porous borders what can we deduce about how seriously the government takes the criminal trade in drugs?

    November 1st, 2009 at 11:00

  3. Tony F says:

    A fine example of how not to lead.

    Proper leadership is not done by popularity of a matter, but as to whether that matter is needed.

    As for drugs use/abuse, there are only two courses of action. Both would be very unpopular, both would be difficult to police. However, either would send a clear, unequivocal message.

    1, legalise all drugs. Make them available at sensible prices from suitably licensed premises. Tax them until their eyes water.

    2, Make all drug use totally illegal. Execute any one caught with any drugs about their person. Confiscate all property/monies owned by criminal.

    Actually thinking about it, prostitution could be sorted in the same way.

    “With our porous borders what can we deduce about how seriously the government takes the criminal trade in drugs?”

    They only care about one thing, how to get more for themselves. As for the rest of it, they just make noises to make it seem as if they are thinking of doing something.

    November 1st, 2009 at 11:34

  4. copper bottom says:

    civ has it right…

    A creationist stopped me in the street in Chelt the other week and asked me to sign his form to have it taught in schools- (no doubt along such other fairy stories as RE etc…)

    me- no thanks – its a load of old rubbish.
    CR- ok- give me one reason why…
    me- do you accept that light travels at around 186233 miles per second?
    CR-err… yes.
    me- are you ok with parallax? using triangles to measure distance?
    CR-err… i suppose…
    me- ok, how come we can see stars and other stellar objects that are greater than
    10,000 light years away?
    CR-(blank look) there is an reason for that…
    me- go on then- lets hear it…

    still waiting.

    we teach ancient legends like greek mythology (he has an ology and says hes failed lol)
    but – WE DONT SAY ITS REAL!!!

    November 1st, 2009 at 13:11

  5. Gutsy Kid says:

    I liked Alan Johnson up until this, he really has shot the messenger here. While we shouldn’t make drugs completely legal, we’ve got to stop criminalising people for carrying small amounts of cannabis on their persons. What we need to do is take drug profits away from dealers (and by that also taking the need for guns on streets away).

    November 1st, 2009 at 19:47

  6. Blueknight says:

    Cigarettes and alcohol may do more harm than drugs, but that is only because the usage of cigarettes and alcohol is greater.

    November 1st, 2009 at 23:15

  7. 200 says:

    er, no it’s not

    November 1st, 2009 at 23:39

  8. MarkUK says:

    Gutsy,

    Why not legalise cannabis and E? Both are (considerably) less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.

    We’d need to control the sale – properly, not like we do with alcohol & fags – but that’s not beyond the wit of man.

    I’d legalise the lot. The cost of a medicinal dose of morphine is about 30p. Even with a swinging tax, it would mean that an opiate user could afford a fair quantity whilst on benefits. That would cut crime.

    If the stuff was clean (i.e. cut only with sterile, inert substances) and of a consistent strength, that would considerably reduce the amount of medical intervention needed. Give clean needles with every purchase, and you’d chop the number of infections that will, sooner or later, bother the NHS.

    November 1st, 2009 at 23:44

  9. Gutsy Kid says:

    Mark, I agree with your points. But the objective should be to reduce drug abuse and crime, and allowing anybody to take anything they wanted may only make the amount of addicted abusers increase. What’s more roll on the general election after a government enacts this, and it would be reversed for votes anyway.

    And even worse? Even if it would work, the voting population wouldn’t be behind it.

    November 2nd, 2009 at 01:37

  10. copper bottom says:

    why not legalise it?

    mmm… because it sends a clear message- anything we cant sort out we make legal.

    what’s next? burglary? car crime? ASB?

    the way to deal with drug issues- is to make it VERY painful (financially) to be caught using or dealing…

    Make possession inprisonable for 4-6 weeks… that would stop the majority.

    The minority can go for longer.

    November 2nd, 2009 at 12:47

  11. joe says:

    Nutt actually has “previous” as an ardent supporter of legalising dope so I’d be inclined to take his recommendations with a large pinch of salt.

    Having said that, I actually go with previous contributors who have pointed out that heroin use per se is not a problem – people function fine with a 30 year habit provided they’re getting “clean” dope – it is the consequences of making users rely on the black market which generates the problems so maybe, just maybe, legalising heroin might be a sensible thing to do.

    November 2nd, 2009 at 15:41

  12. Tony F says:

    As has been pointed out though, legalizing drugs would remove many criminals by dint of removing their illegal income selling them. A lot of ‘petty’ crime would cease, I suspect a lot of major crime would also become very unprofitable. Their only recourse will be to become MPs…..

    November 2nd, 2009 at 21:26

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