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Nutt faces sack

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Mark Easton | 14:29 UK time, Friday, 30 October 2009

The Home Secretary Alan Johnson is considering sacking his top expert drugs adviser following criticism of the government's decision to reclassify cannabis.

Professor David Nutt, who chairs the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, yesterday accused ministers of devaluing and distorting evidence by their decision to move the drug back up to Class B from C last year (see my previous post, Scientists v Politicians: Round 3).

An e-mail sent to the BBC by an official in the Home Office this morning says that "yesterday's coverage may have some serious repercussions for Prof Nutt and his position as chair of the ACMD".

nutt_email410.jpg

The note goes on to say "discussions are being had (at) a very high level regarding this issue and a decision will be taken early next week."

Professor Nutt knew nothing about the moves to dismiss him when I spoke to him earlier today, but seemed resigned to the possibility. "They are bound to be considering that," he told me, "thinking about the least worst option."

"I think the issue is whether I am straying into the realm of policy," he suggested. "I personally don't think I was."

A source in the Home Office tells me that "the writing is on the wall" for the scientist, although no decision has yet been made.

Question Time 29/10/09On last night's Question Time, the former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was asked about Professor Nutt's view that the process by which she increased the penalties for cannabis possession last year was "highly politicised".

Dimbleby: "You don't have much time for the head of the advisory council..."
Smith: "Frankly, no."
Dimbleby: "Why not?"
Smith: "I think, actually, this foray into policy is not what his job is about. His job is to advise and my job as home secretary was to decide."

If Alan Johnson does sack the professor, there is likely to be a strong reaction from some in the scientific community who may well argue that this is an attempt to silence independent academic discussion.

However, the online Sun columnist Jon Gaunt argues that the expert advisor has overstepped the mark:

"It's perfectly acceptable for Nutt to have these discussions in the cosseted world of academia but it is totally irresponsible for him to pontificate in public and in his position as Drug Tsar. He must be sacked immediately."

Also appearing on Question Time last night, Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik, accused Jacqui Smith of bowing to a tabloid agenda when it comes to drugs policy.

"What's the point of paying people to give you expert advice if you then run your government policy through the red tops?"

Professor Nutt waits to hear his fate.

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, drjohnwatson wrote:

    Typical of an arrogant Government. Professor David Nutt is an expert, Alan Johnson is a politician only interested in getting votes.

    If you read the comments to the David Nutt article in yesterday's Daily Mail, you will see that the majority of comments to the article support him, as they do in all the other paper's comment forums I've seen (even The Sun!).

    I'm sure Transform would welcome Prof Nutt as a very eminent advisor and would gave the movement for drug policy reform a very well-respected boost.

    I hope this Government is sacked by the electorate very soon.

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  • 2. At 3:10pm on 30 Oct 2009, Tim wrote:

    It is blindingly obvious that the Government wants to reclassify cannabis in response to a moral panic about its effects. If they attempt to dress up this policy change as being in reaction to scientific opinion, then the senior scientist advising the Government on this topic is obliged to speak out. I applaud Prof Nutt, and deplore the Home Office's actions, in reclassifying the drug, misrepresenting scientific opinion, and now, shooting the messenger.

    Sadly, it appears that the Right and its allies are going to be even more cavalier with science when they are in power: "It's perfectly acceptable for Nutt to have these discussions in the cosseted world of academia" - Ha ha, I suppose that, by contrast, in the "real world" of the Sun's readers, they each know half a dozen paranoid schizophrenics who attribute this condition directly to their use of skunk?

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  • 3. At 3:13pm on 30 Oct 2009, fredrickpartisan wrote:

    I was saddened by Jacqui Smith's approach last night; it was, as Lembit Opik suggested, a sign of shameless populism. Moreover, Smith resorted to personal attacks on the expert government advisor. This odious tactic came from someone who clearly doesn't have the courage to engage in a full and frank debate, perhaps because she doesn't truly believe in the decisions that she has made. She undermined him so far as to suggest that "he didn't know what he was talking about."

    The drugs debate is complex, no one can deny that, but I fear that pandering to perceived popular opinion on this issue only serves obfuscate, when the most pressing need is to educate.

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  • 4. At 3:21pm on 30 Oct 2009, LittleBob wrote:

    I think this government has lost it's way, desperatly trying anything they can to be popular. Lembit makes a good point why employ these people if you are going to go against their advice. After all who knows best a Professor who specialises in the subject or a politician who is only interested in feathering her own nest!

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  • 5. At 3:33pm on 30 Oct 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    The hubris of the Home Office sickens me. How dare they threaten to sack such a well respected expert, simply because his findings do not fall into line with what the Government demanded.
    Alan Johnson should lose his job immediately - how many other policy areas are being based on 'feelings' rather than sound, empirical evidence?

    Our drug policy is a vindictive, wasteful mess. How can the Government continue to raise revenues via tobacco and alcohol taxation in the face of this?

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  • 6. At 3:47pm on 30 Oct 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    Johnson's behaviour is disgusting. He might as well also resign for hiring scientific advisors at taxpayers' expense then refusing to heed their advice. A complete waste of money. Jacqui Smith should be made to repay the cost of that inquiry. Johnson's claims about advice not being part of politics might be literally true - but hundreds of issues raised by the scientific community have political implications but the politicians pick and choose which they want to use as vote catchers.

    This is a fine example of emotions and the irrational overriding reason.

    Thank heavens this government will be scotched next May. With Brown's/Smith's endless stream of mistakes - and now this sort of hysteria - this country stands no chance.

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  • 7. At 3:56pm on 30 Oct 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    #3. At 3:13pm on 30 Oct 2009, fredrickpartisan wrote:
    "This odious tactic came from someone who clearly doesn't have the courage to engage in a full and frank debate, perhaps because she doesn't truly believe in the decisions that she has made. She undermined him so far as to suggest that "he didn't know what he was talking about"."

    But isn't this the same Jacqui Smith who had the job of Home Secretary thrust on her when she thought she wasn't even capable of doing the job. She doesn't base her decisions on reason and certainly not finding the best outcome - or we wouldn't have Home Information Packs and ID cards for a start. And look at her performance over the dozens of files lost or stolen containing our personal data. With impunity, she did nothing. She simply hadn't a clue what to do.

    If the BBC want to ban anyone from broadcasting it should be people like her - a has-been, of no political merit but a mere sniper unable even to aim properly.

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  • 8. At 4:02pm on 30 Oct 2009, Secratariat wrote:

    Sacked for telling the truth, but then I suppose the government have continually refused to sack those who have been proven to be liars, cheats & thieves so this kind of makes sense (or is at least consistent with previous decisions).

    As ever in our Brave New Labour World, the truth is a lie, laymen know more than experts and the good people are all bad !

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  • 9. At 4:07pm on 30 Oct 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    And as the week draws to a close the government sinks even lower by firing its expert advisors it hired to help form its policy...

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  • 10. At 4:11pm on 30 Oct 2009, Jaknet wrote:

    What a surprise... Not

    The government expert tells the truth and just because it proves that the so called drug policy is based totally on politics and lobbying and has nothing to do with the harm that various drugs both legal and illegal cause. The government response is to sack him.... How much more pathetic can you get.

    Sack the lot of this money grabbing, thieving, surveillance mad control freaks that claim to be our government.... even though the PM was never elected by anyone in the UK.

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  • 11. At 4:16pm on 30 Oct 2009, writingsonthewall wrote:

    That's Democracy for you (well their version anyway)

    Someone says something you disagree with so you get rid of them.

    It's a shame it only works one way as I would have sacked every single lying thieving member of Parliment a long time ago.

    If we're going to get rid of everyone who lies to the public (even if it is mis-guided) then we can start with Jaqui Smith who still seems to have her job despite abusing her position and then trying to cover it up.

    Oh she will be third against the wall - Pol Pot in disguise she is.

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  • 12. At 4:17pm on 30 Oct 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    I am genuinely concerned for Profeesor Nutt's welfare. This government doesn't have the best record when it comes to scientists revealing inconvenient truths.

    David Kelly, anyone?

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  • 13. At 4:18pm on 30 Oct 2009, Orangeandmango wrote:

    Dimbleby: "You don't have much time for the head of the advisory council..."
    Smith: "Frankly, no."
    Dimbleby: "Why not?"
    Smith: "I think, actually, this foray into policy is not what his job is about. His job is to advise and my job as home secretary was to decide."

    What Jackboot smith said here goes to show how little she knows about here previous role and the MDA.
    The ACMD is charged with evaluating the MDA on a regular basis regardless of what the current home secretary says, this role is detailed in the act.
    I believe the ACMD oversteps the mark by not including alcohol et al in the classification and by point blank ignoring non-prohibitive options, these points are perfectly valid actions within the remit of the MDA.

    Three is no way in hell that the Home Secretary can have the experience, knowledge or time required to make a decision about drug classification apart from the decision to ask the ACMD to investigate a possible problem. The only people qualified to make these decisions are the members of the ACMD, who have spent their working lives as researchers and with specialist experience investigating the subject around drugs.

    If that postie Johnson fires Prof. Nutt then he himself should be sacked. But I would be surprised if this scum government tries to replace Prof. Nutt with a tabloid toad.

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  • 14. At 4:29pm on 30 Oct 2009, writingsonthewall wrote:

    I'd say the state of Jacqui Smiths hair is far more offensive than what Professer Nutt has to say.

    The fabric of society is about to collapse and the Home Office are worried about is the classification of something that nobody gives a rats backside about anyway.

    Smokers will smoke regardless - and if you criminalise them you will have to build more prisons to put them all in.

    The war on drugs is unwinnable, just like the War in Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea - take your pick - all wars based on lies cannot be won.

    Only wars fought for justice and freedom are winnable - and that war may be internal.

    Beware Home office - you are clearly in the sights.

    What are you going to do when you can no longer pay the police? (in about 2012)

    Will it be time to draft in the army and implement marshal law?

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  • 15. At 4:37pm on 30 Oct 2009, stanilic wrote:

    At the time I did think that reason cannabis was regraded was because the children of Cabinet members had given up dealing.

    Every policy this government has brought forward involving the inebriation of the population has been an abject failure. One can only ask why?

    I think Professor Nutt has become exasperated with having a conversation with the walls of the Home Office. Sure there is a division between policy and professional advice, but as taxpayers and electors we have a right to judge any government by their failure to produce a workable outcome for their policy.

    The government can sack Nutt but this will leave them without an advisor and a successful policy. Surely, a sensible government would be engaging with Nutt on the basis that he has his view but how can this be taken forward into effective policy given other related practicalities?

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  • 16. At 4:40pm on 30 Oct 2009, alb1on wrote:

    The reaction of Jacqui Smith is typical of a government populated by the intellectually incompetent whose only reaction is to shoot the messenger when faced with facts they dislike. This stinks of the way they managed the David Kelly affair.

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  • 17. At 4:42pm on 30 Oct 2009, nickfraser wrote:

    Unfortunately, the majority of modern politicians are 'followers' masquerading as 'leaders', still not up to the task of making tough calls based on the scientific evidence.

    The essence of leadership isn't to be found in simply telling people what they want to hear, but in bravely fronting policies where a majority of the public is ignorant of the evidence, viscerally hostile, and simply in denial of reality (climate change is another issue where politicians of all ilks are running scared from delivering the policies necessary to address the problem).

    Once again leaving the UK's drug policy in a dreadful mess.

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  • 18. At 4:44pm on 30 Oct 2009, TWSI wrote:

    Thick of It territory get a different expert when the one you have disagrees with you.

    Personally I think the Govt are chasing votes here with the big DRUGS scare story they have created over the decades. Many people with no idea or rationality still think that the artificial distinctions between substances into illegal and legal makes any sense or are in some ways decided by something more than happen-stance. Certainly few genuine experts in the field would agree.

    Indeed given the number of people driving cars and working on tranquillisers prescribed like sweets, it seems, one could argue the Govt is the biggest supplier of addictive narcotics. They are fine with us taking valium because we complain to a doctor we're a little anxious but not with anything else.

    "between 2-3% of every GP’s adult patients take benzodiazepines for longer than six months."

    Needless to say as much as I despise the opposition the decision to appoint someone like Smith who appears to have no redeeming features in her cypher personality shows that New Labour stood and stand for nothing under Brown.

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  • 19. At 4:54pm on 30 Oct 2009, BeyondThePale wrote:

    I honestly don't think anyone would have complained too much if the Government, upon its U-turn on cannabis classification, had told the truth and said "look, we simply don't want a load of people stoned all day - the country would grind to a halt", even though that's patently not what would happen.

    To hang pathetically onto the hackneyed, completely discredited and tabloid-panic argument of masses of kids killing themselves in a drug-addled psychosis and then plotting to sack their chief expert for stating the facts is about the level of this comedic shambles of a so-called party in power.

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  • 20. At 4:57pm on 30 Oct 2009, Ernie wrote:

    Labour out. Now. Seriously.

    This is just a joke.

    Their term in office has been one big social experiment, it's just a shame that neither the population of the UK nor reality in general are anything like they wish. This is just yet more ammunition for those of us who have watched them studiously ignore and suppress reams of contradictory evidence in the name of "we know best".

    Most of the population can see through it now, even if they couldn't before. Time to go.

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  • 21. At 4:57pm on 30 Oct 2009, rwmjones wrote:

    I think this makes perfect sense coming from a government who have gone along with a number of "perpetual wars" including the War on Drugs. Remember readers, Ignorance is Strength.

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  • 22. At 5:05pm on 30 Oct 2009, calmandhope wrote:

    Well the level of disgust in the postings so far should be of no surprise to the government, but I have a feeling that they wouldn't even acknowledge it if it bit them on the nose.

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  • 23. At 5:09pm on 30 Oct 2009, grumpynotoldman wrote:

    The Criminal Justice lobby, of which the Home Office and all it's current and ex cronnies are past masters at spin, deceipt and obfuscation, have no time for honesty, rationality, and tempered discussion.
    Smith's appearance on the telly was a sight.
    Not bitter then?
    "The thick of it" all over the egg on her face.
    Is she still Home Secretary?
    Did she have her nose in the trough over MP's expenses?

    Who has credibility?

    Prof Nutt has, by his paper, http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/estimatingdrugharms.html (this was offline as I wrote this) has drawn a line in the sand for the rest of us to review and reference the evidence, the known facts and the likely comparisons.
    The fact that he said "alcohol" is so comparativeley dangerous is what probably helped seal his fate, as both the Chancellor and half the MP's rely on BIG ALCOHOL to fund their extravagances.
    We've had 25 years of beating back the BIG TOBACCO lobby, but BIG ALCOHOL still has it's tentacles firmly wrapped around the political ball sack.

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  • 24. At 5:11pm on 30 Oct 2009, hamsterjim wrote:

    Now Nutts gone - lets march!!!

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  • 25. At 5:13pm on 30 Oct 2009, BayLooker wrote:

    Brilliant, raise some hoo-ha about what is pretty much an over done subject, take everybody’s mind away from politicians lifting money out of the public purse for what must have been decades and poor Professor Nutt becomes the fall guy for the whole government expenses scandal.

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  • 26. At 5:16pm on 30 Oct 2009, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:

    Well, this is no comment on Prof Nutt, whose scientific credentials I have no reason whatever to doubt, but frankly, they probably should sack him.

    Seriously, if they're not going to listen to his advice, what's the point in paying him? Why not get rid of this charade of pretending that the government has scientific advisers? Let them be honest and say "we make up policy on the basis of what we feel will play best in the tabloids, and we don't care about science". Then there's no need for scientific advisers.

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  • 27. At 5:43pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Ah were getting to close to the the truth of the matter and pressure is growing all around the world to legalize cannabis. The good Mr Nutt is doing his job and if the flavour of his professional opinion is not to the liking of the home sec then tough luck.

    Time to sack those that ignore science in favour of self image and doing the right thing even when that means ignoring the sufferance drugs cause in society.

    I think i will start a petition at No 10 calling for such decisions to be made on science along and with the aid of 12 good people, because as we see you get corrupt people with their own agendas running the country Ignoring what the tax payer has paid for.

    God Bless David Nutt and all who listen to him

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  • 28. At 5:45pm on 30 Oct 2009, Novparl wrote:

    I see my comment on the previous thread was removed. Looking at the House Rules, I see we are not allowed to advocate law-breaking. So why was my pro-law comment removed while Community Criminal etc. are allowed to ridicule keeping the law? In fact Mr Easton's blog should be removed on that basis.

    Incidentally, Prof. Nutt on "Today" denied wanting "weed" legalized.

    Let's see if you censor this.

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  • 29. At 5:47pm on 30 Oct 2009, Not_being_serious wrote:

    Mark should feel awesome for having an excuse to write that headline.

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  • 30. At 5:57pm on 30 Oct 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    So Professor Nutt has been fired.

    And are we supposed to trust the advice of the next tabloid friendly trained dog to fill the role?

    I am insulted they seem to think we are all so stupid.

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  • 31. At 6:10pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    LOL Novparl

    I see my comment on the previous thread was removed. Looking at the House Rules, I see we are not allowed to advocate law-breaking. So why was my pro-law comment removed while Community Criminal etc. are allowed to ridicule keeping the law? In fact Mr Easton's blog should be removed on that basis.

    Incidentally, Prof. Nutt on "Today" denied wanting "weed" legalized.

    Let's see if you censor this.

    Its in the wording I have had many posts removed Its a case of learning how to express what you want within the confines of censorship.

    Yes it can be frustrating but I never actually attempt to imply the law should be broken just that it is broken :)

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  • 32. At 6:10pm on 30 Oct 2009, spindlykillerfish wrote:

    The classification of drugs is nonsense - as is the war against them. Until we are willing to look at the way our culture has normalised 'self-medication' in all its forms we might as well not bother.

    like most people, our politicians and experts are unwilling to look at their own self-medication. And so long as drugs are classified they can avoid looking at how they themselves use alcohol...or cigarettes. Or work. Or pornography... the list goes on.

    For what it's worth, Nutt is right. Alcohol is far more damaging than cannabis and ecstasy put together. The part that everyone is missing is that the discussion should be focused on the epidemic use of alcohol and NOT on fiddling about with labels for cannabis and ecstasy!


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  • 33. At 6:32pm on 30 Oct 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    I watched Jaqui Smith trying to speak about the 'dangers of skunk' on question time last night and it proved to me she is not qualified to make policy on this or any other drug.

    Skunk is merely a breed of Cannabis of which there are thousands and it is not particularly strong it merely grows short and quick which makes it attractive to criminals to grow.

    She then said that cannabis is much stronger than it used to be.

    Well if that were true why when the government did a medical marijuana trial it used 'Kush'?

    Kush is a cananbis indica breed that originates in Afghanistan and has been consumed for thousands of years. It is considerably stronger than skunk and typically contains around 15 - 20% THC. Hence why it was chosen for the trials.

    UK Skunk typically has around 10% THC.

    So she showed that she believes there are three types of cannabis:-

    1. Hashish

    2. Weed ???

    3. Skunk.

    Her knowledge of this subject sounds like the ramblings of a bigot and should not be taken seriously.

    This shows how much misinformation, scare mongering and ignorance there is in the commons and in the media.

    Even in the recent BBC articles they tried to get all technical and said Cananbis Sativa originated in asia and had been smoked since asyrian times.

    Well that is not true, the western world has only had cannabis sativa since around the 16th centuary when it was discovered in south america which is where it comes from.

    Ancient middle eastern marijuana is called Cannabis Indica and is very different to Cananbis sativa.

    Sativa - Has thin leaves and typically grows quite high, the effects tend to be more psycadelic and 'giggly'. It also tends to be quite strong so traditionally the flowers of the plant were dried and smoked.

    Indica - Has wide leaves and grows more like a bush, the effects are more physical than sativas and relax the body. Indica traditionally produce large amount of trichomes (hair like postules of resin on the plant) that are shaken off heated and pressed together to make hashish.

    @If we are going to have a debate on this subject then those having the debate should learn a little of the botanics of what they are talking aobut.

    And sacking an expert in this feild for reccomending the obvious shows utter contempt for logic and shows how far away from reducing harm government policy is.

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  • 34. At 6:52pm on 30 Oct 2009, Sevillista wrote:

    It's interesting that commentors here - normally so conservative in their views on drug law liberalisation - criticise the government here.

    What was your reaction when cannabis was declassified in the first place?

    What would your reaction be if the government accepted these views and legalised cannabis and ecstasy because of the scientific evidence?

    I'm sure you would be screaming about the governments lack of morality and how it's deliberately engaged in destroying the fabric of British society or using evil ZaNuLab drugs to keep the population docile.

    I think Alan Johnson was correct - the job of the advisor was to advice on the science and leave the weighing up of that evidence against other factors (including public opinion) to democratically elected politicians. However, the advisor strayed from his remit and threw his toys out of the pram because these other factors are weighted more strongly by decision-makers. It is fairly clear his position was untenable.

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  • 35. At 6:58pm on 30 Oct 2009, rpneil wrote:

    Don't like the message?

    Shoot the messenger.

    Keep going until you get the right message. A bit difficult when scientific opinion seems fairly consistent with what Professor Nutt is saying.

    Am I surprised? No, especially with Smith involved.

    What is the point of an advisory committee anyway if its findings aren't public? Besides as someone else pointed out we've paid for this research. I'd rather like to see it followed rather than shooting of the messenger. I don't know if decriminalisation will work but criminalisation certainly isn't working so it has to be worth a try at least.

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  • 36. At 7:04pm on 30 Oct 2009, BeyondThePale wrote:

    "What would your reaction be if the government accepted these views and legalised cannabis and ecstasy because of the scientific evidence?

    I'm sure you would be screaming about the governments lack of morality and how it's deliberately engaged in destroying the fabric of British society or using evil ZaNuLab drugs to keep the population docile."

    Not me.

    I'd be giggling like a teenager while stuffing three pizzas down my throat.

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  • 37. At 7:09pm on 30 Oct 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    "34. At 6:52pm on 30 Oct 2009, balhamu wrote:

    I think Alan Johnson was correct - the job of the advisor was to advice on the science and leave the weighing up of that evidence against other factors (including public opinion)"

    When making certain laws public opinion needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    Afterall would we have all the anti racism, homophobia etc legislation if we listened to public opinion? No we would have cries of 'kick them out' and 'it goes against god' and 'birch/hang them'.

    We have laws to protect the rights of minorities in this country and cannabis smokers are a persecuted minorty who deserve to have their rights protected.

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  • 38. At 7:40pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    bigsammyb

    We have laws to protect the rights of minorities in this country and cannabis smokers are a persecuted minorty who deserve to have their rights protected.

    So true I was just saying that on another public forum dissusing this the other day.

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  • 39. At 8:53pm on 30 Oct 2009, shaun walmsley wrote:

    i must say i agree with the goverments position.i have personally witnessed the harm,change in personality and untold suffering,including mental illness that canabis and other drugs doctor nutt mentioned cause.
    i also belive that it is every parents worst nightmare to lose a child to drugs and every parent would always want the best for their child.
    behind every case of drugtaking their is a familly involved having to "pick up the pieces".after the harm caused.
    I think gordon brown is right to take this position

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  • 40. At 9:25pm on 30 Oct 2009, sisterraysaid wrote:

    I completely concur with all the postings. The arrogance of this government in believing time and again that the British public will swallow their lies and not have the intellectual ability to make reasoned judgements based on the best available evidence. They are all (ex) dabblers by their own admission in a previous round of soul baring to escape the concentrated focus of the public's crap detector.
    'everybody must get stoned'

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  • 41. At 9:26pm on 30 Oct 2009, Matt wrote:

    Keep drugs illegal, free of duty and cheap. Meanwhile tax alcohol heavily and impose huge fines on those who sell alcohol to the under 18s. It strikes me that government policy reflects Nutts views - that alcohol is more harmful than (most) drugs and must be controlled and discouraged.

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  • 42. At 9:36pm on 30 Oct 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    The Government musn't be allowed to bury this. Cannabus should be re-classified immediately, as per the recommendtions of the EXPERT Professor David J Nutt MRCP MRCPsych FRCPsych FMedSci.

    Who should also be immediately reinstated-I feel he may be a little more trustworthy than Alan Johnson, New Liebour Politician and er.. ex Postman.

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  • 43. At 11:25pm on 30 Oct 2009, JohnRowbo wrote:

    Proof were it even needed that drug policy isn't based on anything but the opinion of ignorant politicians chasing whatever votes they think they can get.

    Seriously, what is the purpose of drug policy if it isn't being formed from the scientific and statistical facts relating to the risks of usage.

    I'm surprised smith isn't calling for him to be strapped to the dunking stool for heresy, what irony.

    Drug policy is nothing more than a bizarre crusade by zealots.

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  • 44. At 00:17am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    paddy68

    again all the trouble and the mess you describe is the result of what

    I know without a shadow of a doubt that MODA 71 killed my brother how is this so he died of heroin overdose.

    The very fact that drugs are illegal and continue to remain so means that tomorrow another child will fall to harm another young person will fall under someone else's control will they not another persons family member ?

    Who controls the addicted family member ? the family? the government? the police? the old lady they just mugged the shop they just robed? or the DEALER?

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  • 45. At 08:19am on 31 Oct 2009, Jane Lewis wrote:

    Is Jon Gaunt of the Sun suggesting Professor Nutt's opinion should be kept quiet? Are we to know only what the government wants us to know?

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  • 46. At 10:07am on 31 Oct 2009, newtactic wrote:

    I never thought I would find myself agreeing with a Sun journalist, but in this case I agree, John Gaunt has got it right. As I put elsewhere in this blog, Professor Nutt is completely out of touch with reality. His chemical and statistical assessment of illegal drugs, nicotine and alcohol are fine in an academic context, but to accept them without debate would be to mislead the inexperienced and the uninformed. It would be wrong for any Government to do this.

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  • 47. At 11:39am on 31 Oct 2009, Novparl wrote:

    Newtactic - Prof Nutty has ignored the numerous academics who have pointed out the connection between "schizophrenia" and weed. He is speaking purely emotionally.

    Mr Easton - since you believe alcohol is so evil, why not campaign against BBC toleration of it? Have the Q Vic removed from Eastenders and replaced with a veggie café. Have the chefs who put wine in their haute cuisine sacked - they often suggest a nice wine with the food.

    I can't believe that people are still promoting smoking.

    Let's see if this is censored. Ironic, when you consider the druggies here are screaming about "censorship".

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  • 48. At 3:52pm on 31 Oct 2009, JohnRowbo wrote:

    Novparl - there is no evidence that cannabis is a causal link in schizophrenia, there is some drug war funded hypothesis and thats about it. It's literally drug war funded propaganda. Many academics have completely dismissed these claims (and that is all they are) which don't have any statistical support whatsoever.

    That you've bought into that drug war lie says far more about you than I care to know. Strange also you talk about statistical and factual evidence as being emotional?

    Just because cold hard facts hurt your feelings, well it's not the facts that are emotional.

    Professor Nutt has the broad support of the scientific community on this and he has been extremely careful with the evidence he has presented and examples he used.

    All the government apologists here need to understand that drug war policy is a bizarre game with it's origins founded in race hate and big business greed.

    The only thing the drug war has actually achieved is the creation of the largest criminal empire the planet has ever seen, a global drug problem and the ceaseless growth of governmental power and control in parallel.

    Drug Policy has never been about public health and protection it has always been about power, control and the persecution of minorities. Drug laws are a valuable pretext for paramilitary intervention.

    When this policy is questioned publicly, especially from within in the way it was by Professor Nutt the only recourse left by those perpetuating the policy is to silence that dissent because the government, like all drug warriors, have no factual counter argument that stands up to any sort of scrutiny.

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  • 49. At 7:53pm on 31 Oct 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    I think there is another important point to make.

    Medical Marijuana.

    Can somebody please enlighten me as to why medical marijuana is not made available for the many MS, cancer, glycoma and artheritus suffers in the UK? (there are also numerous other things cananbis can aleviate or cure)

    Why is this? If i had a back problem i would be prescribed opiate based medicine. Is anybody going to tell me they think heroin is less harmful than cannabis?

    The lack of medical marijuana in the UK is 100% proof that its prohibition has nothing to do with science or logic it is to do with making MONEY.

    You see it is easy for a drug company to make opiate based medicine. It is easily taxed for this reason.

    As a patient couldn't easily cultivate the poppy and turn it in to tablets the drug company and the government know they can continue to sell and make money.

    But cannabis can be grown and used without the need for manufacture and for this reason can not be effectively taxed in a monopolitic way.

    So drug companies throw money at keeping cannabis illegal. Alcohol and tobbacco companies know its a threat and so also fund prohibition lobby groups. And the governemt follow suit becuase they know if cannabis was made legal they would have to raise other taxes to pay for the shortfall in taxation from precribed drugs and alcohol and tobbacco.

    The only attempt the government made in to creating medical marijuana was with the production of 'sativex' which ironically was made with kush which is an indica but i digres.

    The point is if a patient needs marijuana the correct way for them to take it is by vapourization which enables them to regulate and judge the dose as well as not suffering the harmful effects of smoking plant material. This is how medical marijuana is precribed in every other country in the world that allows it.

    But we made sativex? Sativex was a spray that a patient sprays on their tongue, it is highly potent and even a small dose can result in 'spinning out' which is why most patients rejected it. The reason the government produced it in that way is it was a paharmecutically manufactured medicine which they could make money out of.

    So you see drug, alcohol and tobbacco companies are drug cartels and the government is the mafia taking its cut.

    Its all about the money.

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  • 50. At 8:08pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    yup look at the stock of GWP look at changes in cannabis law.

    GW have interests in the market in the USA since Obama announced a call of of the Feds on medical cannabis shares fell to 85pence from 98 pence from there rise at the same time Smith made cannabis B they went from a low of 26pence a share during class C years.

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  • 51. At 11:56am on 01 Nov 2009, profsub wrote:

    One view of the present public row might be that it mirrors in microcosm the entire national debate we have been having since the mid 19th century. Addiction, dependence or excessive appetites might at root be ways of thinking, feeling and behaving toward ourselves & each other which limit our capacity as individuals, families & communities to achieve our potential. There are many layers of meaning in this latest row and if we managed to unpick them delicately and thoughtfully we might find new ways of getting ourselves collectively un-stuck. It's not just people who might be identified as "addicts" or who might identify themselves as such who struggle with un-helpful thinking, feeling & behaving patterns.

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  • 52. At 12:18pm on 01 Nov 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    Cannabis should be re-classified immediately, and the Government called to account for utterly failing to administer the Misuse of Drugs Act along sound evidential lines.

    Re-instate Professor Nutt!

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  • 53. At 7:06pm on 01 Nov 2009, greatleanneedwards wrote:

    Dr Nutt is absolutely spot on with his recommendations..Yes we all agree that drugs are not an appropriate past-time and yes we all agree that drugs are damaging to peoples health..BUT.. Alcohol and smoking are also extremely damaging to our health and are an anti-social behaviour. Alcohol plays a huge part in the troubles that we as a society have today..The Hoodie culture is based on what??..Yongsters hanging around and causing trouble usually with a cheap can of lager in their hands or a cheap botle of spirit.... Tell the public this..when arrests are made on a nightly basis of youths causing trouble..How many are drunk and how many are high on cannabis?? My money would be on the fact that most are arrested because they have been reacting to the affects of alcohol....Dr Nutt reported the facts as the government asked for;unfortunately for Dr Nutt the government doesn't make money on drugs but it does on alcohol and tobacco.

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  • 54. At 08:00am on 02 Nov 2009, peter wrote:

    I really think Proffesor Nutt should consider bowing to Mr johnsons superior knowledge on this one.
    One can easily see how an ex postman and now career politician can have aquired a greater and in depth knowledge of the perils or otherwise of drug abuse.
    Proffesor Nutt and his fellow scientists, who I understand give their time and effort on an unpaid basis, have spent their lives in pursuit of scientific excellence which is why of course they have been asked to serve on the advisory panel .
    This of course pales into insignificance when placed along side Mr Johnsons credentials.

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  • 55. At 1:55pm on 02 Nov 2009, Anonymous_Scientist wrote:

    I would suggest that the 'independent' nature of Prof Nutt's scientific investigation should be investigated further. Specifically, as a scientific advisor to The Beckley Foundation - an organisation which sponsors research that supports their campaign to promote the use of drugs such as LSD, believing it to have 'health benefits'.

    This organisation is led by Amanda Fielding (Lady Amanda Neidpath), who believes that LSD and trepanation hold strong health benefits (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Feilding) and seeks to provide evidence to support these claims. Lady Neidpath's strong political influence provides a platform to influence governmental policy and the composition of governemtal advisory panels, which contains several of the foundations own 'advisors' (http://www.beckleyfoundation.org/aboutus/advisors.html).

    At best, I would suggest that this supports the suggestion that science and policy and not being kept seperate in Prof. Nutt's approach and at worst, that he is being influenced in all areas by pre-determined motives.

    Anon.

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  • 56. At 10:58pm on 02 Nov 2009, Richard wrote:

    Sacking Nutt both disappoints and angers me.

    It disappoints me because it clearly shows that the government has no respect for scientific research and bows to narrow-mindedness.

    It angers me because the government doesn't seem to learn from its mistakes. I believe honesty is the best policy, unfortunately this is not a policy upheld by the current government.

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  • 57. At 11:39am on 15 Nov 2009, ExpatVillaShirt wrote:

    I am only surprised that anyone would be surprised with the actions of such a morally bankrupt government. They don't like the expert's opinion because they are monumentally ignorant, so they sack the expert they paid for. So typical.
    As long as drug production is in the hands of criminals, drugs will needlessly be many times more dangerous and more available. There are so many who agree with this view that it seems unbelievable, to a rationally-minded person, that a government would allow the situation to continue. It's almost as if they WANT drug supply to remain in the hands of vicious murderers who couldn't care less what they cut anything with.
    The hypocrisy is just stupefying. Prohibition does not work. How many more must die or be jailed before the message gets through ?

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  • 58. At 04:03am on 26 Dec 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:

    That is sad news that, Mr. Nutt was fired...from his posting.

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 59. At 08:04am on 28 Dec 2009, U13999938 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 60. At 11:58am on 28 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    messenger71 until rev 22.2 has come to pass this feast will not be complete. for there is no baptism without anointment.

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