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Nutt gets the sack

Mark Easton | 17:27 UK time, Friday, 30 October 2009

Professor David Nutt tells me the home secretary has "sacked" him from his post as chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

A letter was sent from Alan Johnson this afternoon shortly after my revelation that it was planned to dismiss him early next week.

Although the home secretary's letter says he is asking his adviser to step down with immediate effect, the professor insists he is being given no option.

Here is the home secretary's letter in full:


Here is Professor Nutt's reply:

30/10/2009 / Dear Alan / In reply to your letter standing me down as chair of the ACMD I would like to say that I am extremely disappointed in your decision as I have worked exceptionally hard for the ACMD for a decade. I believe my advice to you and your predecessors has been of the highest quality and in the best interests of the UK public. / Whilst I accept that there is a distinction between scientific advice and government policy there is clearly a degree of overlap. If scientists are not allowed to engage in the debate at this interface then you devalue their contribution to policy making and undermine a major source of carefully considered and evidence based advice. / Yours sincerely

I understand that senior figures within the scientific and academic community are already looking to rally behind Professor Nutt, whose response to the home secretary suggests that he is happy to become a "poster-boy" for science as a contributor to policy-making.

We are witnessing a collision between science and politics (see my earlier post, Science v Politics?). There may be significant fall-out.

When the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was set up in 1971, home office ministers told Parliament it was there to provide "the key advice" on what Class A drug should be and to ensure that policy is "evidence-based".

But what if the minister doesn't like the evidence?

Twice in the last year or so - once with cannabis and again with ecstasy - the government ignored its experts because of "public perception" and because of what former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith last night described as the "need to send out a message".

It is an argument that was roundly criticised by Parliament's Science and Technology Committee a few years ago. The MPs stated:

"The government's desire to use the class of a particular drug to send out a signal to potential users or dealers does not sit comfortably with the claim that the primary objective of the classification system is to categorise drugs according to the comparative harm associated with their misuse."

It is supporting this argument that has cost Professor Nutt his job today. He does not accept that there is much evidence to show that the class of a drug acts as a deterrent and therefore sees the only point of classification as being "to provide the public with an evidence-based and rigorous appraisal of relative harms".

But to suggest that taking ecstasy is less dangerous than horse-riding, or that cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco - however true that may be - is to say the unsayable in the political drugs debate.


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  • 1. At 5:48pm on 30 Oct 2009, noleafclover wrote:

    What a surprise, the government again sacking/smearing anyone who disagrees with them.

    Never mind that Prof Nutt is the educated academic and is expressing a very valid argument.

    Alan Johnson is a complete joke, why is a postman pretending to know more than a respected medical academic?!

    Politics before academics and intelligence - the labour way.

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  • 2. At 5:49pm on 30 Oct 2009, grumpynotoldman wrote:

    " I canot have public confusion........."

    The Prof was trying to get a debate going so that the confusion could be aired, discussed and the general public enlightened.
    The public are already confused about these arbitrary classifications and would be much better served by a policy that differentiated risks and harms from all the substances we use.(Legal and illegal)

    Never let vested interest ( Home office and Criminal Justice lobby, prisons, Police ,lawyers etc) get in the way of evidence and knowledge.

    BIG ALCOHOL'S heavy hand at work here it would appear!

    Who has credibility now?
    Alan Johnson, Jacqui Smith and the Home Office, or Prof Nutt?

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  • 3. At 5:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, Ernie wrote:

    "It is important that the governments messages on drugs are clear"

    They have been clear for some time. Clearly deranged. Clearly demonstrating that the government don't know what they're talking about. Clearly showing that they have anything but the best interests of the people at heart. Clearly nothing is more important to them than tabloid approval and a shot at re-election.

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  • 4. At 5:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, avoiderman1 wrote:

    A victim of the wrath of a certain J.Smith who was humiliated on Question Time. Couldn't make this up. Government is criticised for politicising the debate & ignoring scientific advice, so they personalise it & sack a man for a factual-based view. Sorry if it sounds unpleasant, but what the chap said about deaths from horse riding was a plain statistical fact. It is clear who is being unprofessional, and by playing politics in this area risking the health and well-being of every child in this country, it isn't Prof.Nutt, but more interestingly it now includes more than one member of this cabinet.

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  • 5. At 5:53pm on 30 Oct 2009, midori_no_saru wrote:

    In presenting the empirical evidence surrounding drug use, and the actual risks of taking drugs, Professor Nutt is doing the public a great service, if not the government.

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  • 6. At 5:53pm on 30 Oct 2009, bb76090 wrote:

    One thing that Professor Nutt has overlooked may be due to him being a neuro scientist, concerned with the brain and damage to the brain. Cannabis does other damage too, to the lungs which no one seems to be discussing.
    I smoked weed and skunk weed for about 20 years. Last year my lung collapsed and I ended up in hospital, had a drain fitted and went home after 5 days, once my lung had re-inflated. 13 days later, my lung collapsed again and I was back in hospital, another drain fitted and same thing, lung back up, home, collapsed again, back in hospital and then, sent for surgery to establish the problem.
    The surgeon expected to find a problem and was surprised to find loads of holes on my lung, caused by smoking. They are called bulla, like blisters on the lungs. I had a bullectomy in May 2009 at Papworth hospital.
    There were others on the wards I met, all smoking weed or cocaine, all with collapsed lungs. The worst thing for me was, that I had been smoking for so long, like everyone else, I was give morphine to get rid of pain, and it would not work, because my body was so used to drugs.

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  • 7. At 5:53pm on 30 Oct 2009, zerorpm wrote:

    Wow line 1 totally sets the tone (are they taking the mick?) - previous correspondence has highlighted the value the Govt places on the evidence of ACMD. I can assume by that they mean thanks for the evidence and balanced view, where we can cream one liners for the media and choose which ever direction will sit well with the 'red tops', and ignore the overall message.

    It seems Alan is asking Prof Nutt to give his scientific evidence without any sense of reality (i.e. by disallowing his comparison with deaths related to ecstasy and those related to horse riding). His error was to make his evidence actually relate to people's choices in life, and hence give some perspective to the almost constant moral panic surrounding drugs. The government and opposition approach on the other hand is to blatantly ignore the reality - that the war-on-drugs is failing and has done for 20+ years, may do more damage than good and will never be won.

    The conflict here is that the professor looks out for the best interests of the UK and uses his scientific backing to support that. Alan on the other hand looks out for the best interests of labour and uses spin and their positions of power to support their goals.

    I have lost confidence in the government's ability to rule using scientific evidence appropriately and hence ask them to stand down.

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  • 8. At 5:56pm on 30 Oct 2009, picolax wrote:

    Well, looks like they didn't get the advice they wanted and need someone with the right credentials and point of view. If I was a bookie I would be drastically shorting the odds for another countryman of the PM being the man, especially if that countryman lived in Glasgow..... Unfortunately that will mean that science (and reason) will again lose out.

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  • 9. At 5:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, MJ wrote:

    Government arrogance versus scientific evidence.

    It's Alan Johnson who should resign. Asking for scientific advice then ignoring it is not the act of somebody rational. It's the act of a fool who thinks that he knows better than the experts.

    This is precisely the kind of arrogance which shows how out of touch with reality he really is.

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  • 10. At 5:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    That about buttons it up for Johnson. Such bufoonery seems typical of ministers of late. Not that I'd ever vote for Labour.

    I'm disgusted with the decision to sack Prof Nutt. What's the use of us paying for experts through our taxes only to have a minister sack them because they say something the government doesn't want to hear.

    What this tells me is that whoever replaces Prof Nutt will be a sycophant ready to say what ministers want to hear - if their crazy enough to apply for the job at all.

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  • 11. At 6:03pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:


    I know have my petition title. Bring Back Nutt.

    Time for the People of this country to do as Mr M Emery asks.

    Today I stop my work with the police and the local councils in removing drugs from our communities. Let the class A's on my local streets rise again Ive had enough. this government does not care that cannabis is now more expensive than heroin and cocaine that Crystal Meth is a pocket money drug.

    To Mr Nutt and family thank you for trying to make our country a better place with truth and respect for the facts.

    E is safer than fatty food. :)

    God Bless you

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  • 12. At 6:03pm on 30 Oct 2009, Khadrim wrote:

    I am actually curious as to who people feel should decide if Professor Nutt is up to his job. Another academic or the Home secretary. I am quite happy the government has made a decision. They think he is wrong and have sacked him. if you agree or disagree you can make your views clear at the polling station.

    Also people who keep bringing Alcohol and Tobacco into the debate conveniently ignore the fact banning either is not possible and is doomed to failure. They are so ingrained in our culture. No other drug is and something can therefore be done about it.

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  • 13. At 6:04pm on 30 Oct 2009, Soak wrote:

    'I cannot have public confusion between scientific advise and policy'; why can't we have a decent policy maker, one who would take note and act on scientific advise and not make policies to 'look good' in the public eye and have a complete disregard for the public?

    I am absolutely certain that the class of a drug has absolutely no effect on drug taking habits, this is indeed the politicising of science.

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  • 14. At 6:07pm on 30 Oct 2009, dvonof wrote:

    " say the unsayable in the political drugs debate."

    Which is...

    a) something politically incorrect (as such, easy to manipulate by political opponents)
    b) something based on scientific evidence (as such, easy to manipulate by the moral fundamentalists)
    c) the...truth? (as such, causing an "outrage" in a commonly agreed hypocritical debate)

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  • 15. At 6:08pm on 30 Oct 2009, Diversities wrote:

    Dr Nutt's comments were that the Government distorted/ignored the evidence in the ceses he cited. This is a comment about scientific evidence and ite use or mis-use in govenemnt policy. How was that outside Dr. Nutt's remit?

    More broadly, wast here anything inaccurate or incomplete in Dr. Nutt's comments? I can see nothing of that kind.

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  • 16. At 6:08pm on 30 Oct 2009, photolysis wrote:

    The fact that this Government does not use evidence and reason when formulating its policies says it all really.

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  • 17. At 6:11pm on 30 Oct 2009, DanvanVliet wrote:

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

  • 18. At 6:17pm on 30 Oct 2009, Adie wrote:

    Today was a bad day for free speach, Whens the election ?

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  • 19. At 6:17pm on 30 Oct 2009, semiliteratesimian wrote:

    Be carefull over there at the Beeb. We wouldn't want you to all get sacked for evidence based reporting.

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  • 20. At 6:17pm on 30 Oct 2009, WrekinAir wrote:

    Oh for goodness sake - the crassly uneducated politicians and the hyper-sensitive civil service machine teaming up because somebody has exposed their thinking as unfounded, non-credible and wooly?

    When will we get rid of this Stalinist attitude to contradiction and criticism which is endemic in Whitehall regardless of which bunch of idiots are supposedly in charge?

    I look forward to the MoD civil servants' (and by implication the ministers') attempts to rubbish, ignore and bury the Nimrod report so they appear whiter than white!

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  • 21. At 6:18pm on 30 Oct 2009, Ernie wrote:

    #12 Khadrim

    "Also people who keep bringing Alcohol and Tobacco into the debate conveniently ignore the fact banning either is not possible and is doomed to failure. They are so ingrained in our culture. No other drug is and something can therefore be done about it."

    You pre-suppose two fallacies there

    1. That other drugs are not ingrained in our culture. They are.

    2. That "something can be done". It can't.

    These things are already illegal, if they had gone away when they were banned do you think we'd be having this debate?

    Pull your head out of the sand.

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  • 22. At 6:20pm on 30 Oct 2009, James Rigby wrote:

    Scientists are there to provide scientific evidence and advice. Professor Nutt seems to have done this in an exemplary manner. Politicians are there to consider the advice, add other factors (such as the "message" their decisions might send") and them decide what to do. If the politicians' view ends up being contrary to the scientific advice, that's fine. It's up to the public to then decide whether it agrees with the politicians. Attempting to silence scientists is frankly the sort of thing that extreme regimes attempt. Thankfully, this will backfire. Freed from any constraints, Professor Nutt will now be able to act as a fully independent commentator and will be able to show up the politicians' folly where it exists.

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  • 23. At 6:23pm on 30 Oct 2009, read_animalfarm wrote:

    Professor Nutt's opinions are disturbing having heard them on Radio 4.

    Not being a scientist or a politician, my instinct as a parent told me that Professor Nutt was speaking more than he told about access to drugs in the UK. It's clear that Professor Nutt has NO idea that children in UK who buy cannabis from dealers are unaware that they the next victim for dealers who 'loss lead' for more expensive, more addictive and more lucrative class A drugs. Well done Alan Johnson!

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  • 24. At 6:24pm on 30 Oct 2009, U14194857 wrote:

    At least this is consistent with the ridiculous manner in which cannabis became illegal in the first place. As the decision is to ignore expert advice does the government believe that it is representing the electorate's wishes? Judging by the comments here they are failing there too.
    So, if someone gets caught with a spliff they can get 5 years but £100k expenses fiddles only warrant giving a public apology. I know who I think is the criminal!

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  • 25. At 6:24pm on 30 Oct 2009, TopperHey wrote:

    This is not the first time that the Government have either sacked or completely ignored independent advisors who have disagreed with their policy.

    The complete rejection of Professor Nutt's amicable efforts to indicate how scientific knowledge and government policy are at odds is the latest example of this. One remembers how a Schools Report which took 3 years to compile was dismissed on publication recently because it was at odds with the professional politicians' thoughts on the subject.

    We seem to have a government that thinks it knows better than everyone, refuses to listen to reason and simply sacks anybody who puts up too much fuss. I loathe sensationalism, but I am genuinely worried to see a government employ these authoritarian tactics so regularly. I wonder what they will do with people who disagree with them at the next election. Ignore their votes, maybe?

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  • 26. At 6:24pm on 30 Oct 2009, litesp33d wrote:

    The people of Britain are sleepwalking into a totalitarian nightmare world where anyone who dares to criticise anything the Government says is automatically dismissed. Disagree with the King at your peril. I thought the whole idea of a democratically elected Parliament was that we could disagree and debate and arrive at the right thing to do based upon the facts. How could I be so stupid? Next it will be imprisonment for disagreeing. This is how it starts.

    Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power:-

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    The utter irony is that this is a Labour Govt. But it seems today by this action we can ask, "What is the difference?” A right wing Govt wearing a socialist hat to get the voters who won’t vote Tory. What a hilarious joke. Or it would be if it were not so concerning.

    I do not use cannabis but have read widely on the subject. It was banned in the 1920’s without debate and now it is suppressed without debate.

    Lets ignore the facts and the evidence.

    We don't really want education education education we want compliance acquiescence and subjugation.

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  • 27. At 6:32pm on 30 Oct 2009, ceedee99 wrote:

    RT @Unity_MoT Govt give full support to policy-based evidence making.

    Let's hope that Transform promptly invite Prof Nutt to join their advisory committee.

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  • 28. At 6:32pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Well one thing they may not have considered The only way to silence the Good Mr Nutt now is with the grave.

    Lets hope for public image he has a very long and pleasant retirement.

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  • 29. At 6:32pm on 30 Oct 2009, Adie wrote:

    can this guy stand for parliament ,hes the first sense ive heard in a long time.

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

    #23 read_animalfarm wrote:

    "It's clear that Professor Nutt has NO idea that children in UK who buy cannabis from dealers are unaware that they the next victim for dealers who 'loss lead' for more expensive, more addictive and more lucrative class A drugs."

    What has that to do with anything?
    I mean, in your imaginary situation there it doesn't matter what class cannabis is.

    In fact it could be argued that if it were legalised and well regulated that the "dealer in the playground" would go away as children would find it more difficult to get hold of.

    I'd be interested to see any evidence of your "loss leading" behaviour there, or of your "evil dealer in the playground" scare story. There's no need for loss leading behaviour or for some sort of cynical attempt at deliberate addiction to keep trade going because - and here's the REAL crux of the whole matter - human beings like taking drugs and will pay for them regardless of the legal status.

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  • 31. At 6:36pm on 30 Oct 2009, oldnat wrote:

    23. read_animalfarm
    "Not being a scientist or a politician"

    That was pretty obvious anyway.

    You want policy to be made, without debate of all the factors involved, on the basis of your "instinct".

    Want to tell us all the other policies that should be subject to that "test"?

    btw You do know that supermarkets market alcopops, cider etc as loss leaders?

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  • 32. At 6:39pm on 30 Oct 2009, U9388581 wrote:

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

  • 33. At 6:40pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Frewen-Lord wrote:

    Well, Jackboots certainly lived up to her name.....

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  • 34. At 6:40pm on 30 Oct 2009, BulletMonkey wrote:

    Utterly megalomaniacal, tyrannical behaviour from this pathetic government. Hire an expert on drugs in an effort to back up your policies, then when it doesn't work that way drag his name through the dirt and sack him. Labour have done some shameful things in their time, but this honestly ranks right up there.

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  • 35. At 6:46pm on 30 Oct 2009, bobchemist wrote:

    So advisers are not allowed to lobby for a change in government policy? Then what's the point of having expert advisers in the first place? I was in two minds about voting labour at the next election but this has sealed it for me. Alan Johnson's arrogance is terrifying and I'm looking forward to help vote him out of office next summer.

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  • 36. At 6:49pm on 30 Oct 2009, Dean wrote:

    Oh dear. The government mess it up again. I don't think the issue is that they have ignored the advice, which as I understand it was only about the pharmacological effects and harm of the drug, but the manner in which they have gone about it.

    There are other factors when categorising drugs, such as the 'social engineering' use (does a higher classification help reduce use), and if the pharmacological advice is ignored for other clearly explained reasons then that is valid. However, saying a classification system is based only on one thing and then ignoring the experts on that thing is just plain stupid.

    The letter firing Professor Nutt is also poor. He has simply been making statements based on statistical calculations anyone could do as I believe all the data is publicly available with a little effort. I was under the impression that was his job. I won't say statistics can't lie, but in this case the government looks like it doesn't understand research and scientists.

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  • 37. At 6:52pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    K done
    We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reinstate Professor Nutt to the Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

    Submitted by John Ellis – Deadline to sign up by: 30 October 2010

    Category: Public order, justice and rights

    More details:

    as the removal of Professor Nutt from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is an outrage to evidence based policy that the government claim to support, please reinstate his position as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs with immediate affect. The decision to sack him is a knee jerk reaction of media influence that has cast this government in a very bad light and totally undermines the respect of freedom of speech.

    BringbackNutt is the quick ref on NO10

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  • 38. At 6:54pm on 30 Oct 2009, b_logical wrote:

    Alan Johnson's decision is lamentable. These are complex issues that need proper analysis and evidence based communication. The young who use recreational drugs need to understand the relative dangers so it is stupid to misuse the ABC categories in the way that the disgraceful Jacqui Smith wants.

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  • 39. At 6:57pm on 30 Oct 2009, tdpfscotland wrote:

    I was going to say this is unbelievable, but then it isn't really is it?
    How can someone making comments based purely on FACT be let go in this way. We seem to be heading in the opposite direction of other more enlightened countries. How totally depressing. I have suffered first hand loss in my own family as an indirect result of heroin addiction, yet our family has used this as a trigger to research the topics, look at the facts, and come up with the only way we can solve the local, national, and international drug problems - regulate and control.

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  • 40. At 6:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, carrie wrote:

    I happen to believe Johnson was right in doing what he has done. Of course it is true if drugs were legalised the crime element would disappear from the drugs world, but you will still be left behind with addicts who inject anywhere they can find a vein, including the most obscure parts of the body to then get running sores in the needle pricks as they infect and it spreads, Ecstasy users repeatedly suffering collapsed lungs from the physical effects of using it, the odd death from it concerning other side effects, the long term effects of Ecstasy that the official report by the Dutch Government suggests there will be a generation of early Alzheimer type sufferers amongst those who have that vulnerability in their genetic make up, cocaine misuse (not just the City-boy sufferers either) cannabis psychosis, the list goes on. Yes we have all heard the alcohol/smoking debate and how these two drugs are worse, but they are legal and most people actually don't abuse their use although I accept there is a large population of drink and smoking related diseased people seeking NHS treatment.

    The government didn't hire him then fire him when he didn't agree and he broke ranks. The guy has been involved for a decade.

    As I said, good on Johnson and even Jackie, for standing firm on this.

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  • 41. At 7:00pm on 30 Oct 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    #22. At 6:20pm on 30 Oct 2009, E553X80Y wrote:
    ...."Attempting to silence scientists is frankly the sort of thing that extreme regimes attempt."

    Quite. In former times when religion ruled people could be burned at the stake for this. At least now it's just the sack.

    A great shame: shame on Johnson. Well, this blogger already knew how he'll respond at the election. How many more incompetents must we suffer before they go? Trouble is, the main alternative probably won't be much better.

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  • 42. At 7:00pm on 30 Oct 2009, blogsterama02 wrote:

    I think that Alan Johnson is rather overreacting to what Professor Nutt has said about drugs. His sacking of the professor smacks of fear that the electorate will accuse him of being soft on drugs, but in actual fact what he has done is merely to make the electorate feel that they don't have an adult, intelligent man at the helm but someone who bows to his suspected view of what people think. What a poor opinion he must have of us. Or does he think that if the conservatives where to jump on this bandwagon, as surely they would have had Professor Nutt's opinions been acceptable to the government, we would have been persuaded by their rectoric. As for the Professor I admire him for his attempt to bring some sanity to this sorry state of play. He must be a man of courage.

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  • 43. At 7:04pm on 30 Oct 2009, kaybraes wrote:

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

  • 44. At 7:06pm on 30 Oct 2009, jfmblogger wrote:

    Politicians don't understand science!
    Arguably, they understand little in any significant depth (perhaps other than their expenses gravy-train).
    If Prof Nutt is a good scientist, he'll be presenting exactly what the data indicates and we should all listen, no matter what the pre-conceived notions or convenient ministerial policies and current 'fashions' might be.
    If he's not a good scientist, that's a different matter. I suspect he's probably a good scientist.

    Maybe they just shot the messenger!

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  • 45. At 7:08pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    carrie obviously you cant see past the current situation all the things you describe are a result of a problem. a problem made worse by people such as yourself sweeping it under the carpet were it cant be seen.

    Carrie I came to the conclusion all drugs should be legal after my brother died of a heroin overdose. What has influenced your decision to support the continuation of this war on drugs???

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  • 46. At 7:12pm on 30 Oct 2009, Adie wrote:

    its so sad this government have sunk to this

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  • 47. At 7:12pm on 30 Oct 2009, cxw1120 wrote:

    Can't believe he's been sacked for telling the truth.
    The government doesn't want to admit that smoking and alcohol do more harm and kill more people...
    Professor Nutt wasn't saying there was no harm from drugs but just to put things in perspective.

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  • 48. At 7:14pm on 30 Oct 2009, lsi-92 wrote:

    A collision of bureaucracy and technocracy, no doubt.

    Mmm, and the bureaucracy has served us so well of late.

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  • 49. At 7:15pm on 30 Oct 2009, start_of_an_era wrote:

    All too lamentably similar to the episode of the Thick of It where the hapless minister gets the advice of an expert on a schools issue, only to be given advice the government doesn't want to hear, and is lambasted by Malcolm Tucker for having consulted "the wrong expert".

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  • 50. At 7:16pm on 30 Oct 2009, jfmchivall wrote:

    Moncur's Maraudeluders:"Alcohol has a several THOUSAND year history of cross culture use as a convivial relaxant."

    As indeed do cannabis, khat, opium, coca, tea and many other drugs.

    "I have known thousands of drug users in the Cannabis, coke sense of drugs and have never met anyone who was improved by them except in their own eyes."

    One could as well say the same about alcohol. Prof Nutt lost his job partly for pointing out that alcohol and tobacco are much more harmful than many currently illegal substances.

    When will politicians stop being scared of rational, evidence-based policy making?

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  • 51. At 7:17pm on 30 Oct 2009, Gonzolegend wrote:

    Awful news for the government. Just goes to show that "New Labour" doesn't have a single left wing ideal remaining. Alan Johnson should justly be sacked instead utterly unacceptable firing a scientific advisor for quoting the science. Reminds me of the Iraq WMD claim myself.

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  • 52. At 7:19pm on 30 Oct 2009, tonypenguin wrote:

    Seriously..the arrogance of this government continues to astound. They employ someone to act as their advisor in an area, and then when that advice doesn't fit with their perceived populist "policy", they sack him. It would be astonishing if it wasn't so true to form.

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  • 53. At 7:25pm on 30 Oct 2009, PhildotIdotP wrote:

    What really gets me is the rank hypocracy of Ms. Smith. When it comes to expenses, she is perfectly willing to listen to the advisers in the Claims Office.

    Incidently, what happened to the Have Your Say thread on this subject that was available on the site earlier today but has now disappeared without trace? Has someone in the BBC been listening to a government advisor who deemed it too dangerous for the public to participate in such discussions?

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  • 54. At 7:27pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    i am bleeding from the ears and eyes whilst screaming in rage and tearing my hair out. figuratively speaking. it's the mental image of myself that i conjure when approached with this issue. i could write a thesis on this. but let's keep it simple. NUTT = HERO. JOHNSON = .... well i dont want to get moderated for once. please visit, in the cannabis section you find multiple scientific reviews refuting basically all of the nonsense "harms" that cannabis can cause.
    people who utilise neither logic, rationality nor common sense make me angry, thus i am apoplectic with labor. someone mentioned jacqui smith in relation to this matter and arterial blood hit the walls. these are people who clearly dont have a problem LYING through their teeth, patronising those who know at least that one should probably heed the scientific facts.
    Cannabis is only illegal because of William Randolph Hearst and his lobby against the hemp industry. He demonized marijuana so that trees would remain the key source of paper. The conservative establishments fell hook line and sinker we are still stuck with same draconian attitude that cannabis, like rock'n'roll, would tear society apart.
    GROW UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 55. At 7:28pm on 30 Oct 2009, Mark wrote:

    Evidently we have passed out of the 'Age of Reason'.

    This is very sad - the closest parallel is when Astronomers were forced to recant 'heretic' views that the Earth went round the Sun or be executed for it.

    'We cannot have confusion' - this is simply an assertion of dogmatic belief over scientific fact - not the voice of one who ought (by definition as a politician) to believe that democratic debate is the best way forward with any issue in society.

    The biggest sadness is that (and I have no opinion myself on drugs - everyone who has drunk coffee or alcohol, or smoked has taken drugs for the experience of taking them) nobody in politics wants to have this democratic debate...

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  • 56. At 7:33pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    PS I hope the scientific establishment runs with this like there's no tomorrow. Labour stuck a giant middle finger at them when they first re-classified, time to stick it back. I'm damn sure I'm not the only one who will fight tooth and nail on their behalf. How dare a society look to science for all the answers to whatever problem, and then ignore science based on OUTDATED AND UNINFORMED opinions.

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  • 57. At 7:34pm on 30 Oct 2009, browned-off wrote:

    The Home Secretary is unable, or unwilling, to follow the advice of his chief scientific adviser on drugs – to the extent that he is summarily dismissed for drawing attention to the flaws in existing government drug advice and policies. So why is he wasting public money on an ignored and ridiculed expert? David Nutt is the expert and Alan Johnson the Minister failing to safeguard our kids against the main life warping and destructive substances in our country. Why are Labour Ministers so against taking or acting on the advice we’ve paid for?

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  • 58. At 7:34pm on 30 Oct 2009, Nic Oatridge wrote:

    As a card carrying member of the Labour Party employed in the (legitimate) drug industry, I find the Home Secretary's unwillingness to engage with the views of leading scientists truly worrying - note not agree, but engage. Presumably the Home Secretary will find a somebody with a less distinguished academic record to echo the government's very confusing policies. Not promising from somebody touted as a future leader of the party. This is is a government that couldn't distinguish a moral compass from a sundial.

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  • 59. At 7:34pm on 30 Oct 2009, dame_edna wrote:

    Nice thing is, lots of advisors and quangists are deserting the sinking Labour ship - having decided there's nothing in it for them to continue supporting a lost cause, they're attempting to keep their remaining integrity (and possible future jobs) intact by belatedly telling it how it is.

    Of course, the notion of "evidence-based" legislation is a sick joke - sick to the extent that it is so little practiced. I'd like to see it as mandatory to keep the politician swines in order.

    As for Jacqui Smith, doing nothing IS an option which I hope she will do more of.

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  • 60. At 7:38pm on 30 Oct 2009, Domain Rider wrote:

    Another case of a government shooting the messenger. Sacking Prof.Nutt won't change the evidence. It was the government that set up the classification system and gave it the primary objective of categorising drugs according to the comparative harm associated with their misuse. As Nutt says, if they want a moral debate let them have it, but to attempt to manipulate the classification system in the face of the evidence is hypocrisy.

    This is nothing new, countless government-sponsored committees, reports, and Royal Commissions have returned with similar conclusions, all ignored or rejected because they send the 'wrong message' by politicians who think they know better than the experts they themselves appointed. Meanwhile, on this misguided policy, drug are more readily obtainable than ever, drug abuse and harm are worse than ever, and related health and policing costs grow ever larger.

    There are a number of more sensible governments, such as Portugal, which decriminalised (but not legalised) all drugs in 2001, and have seen a steady decline in overall use, no significant drug tourism, and a massive drop in drug-related deaths and injuries, which have saved them enormous sums in health expenditure. Strange that we hear so little about this in the popular media...

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  • 61. At 7:40pm on 30 Oct 2009, speaker26 wrote:

    This is just typical, cynical action from a government that is allowing politics to justify a decision that is not only scientifically incorrect but also applying dual standards, with regards to alcohol.... which causes the most problems... but then again which makes the most revenue?

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  • 62. At 7:43pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    PSS aaaaaand
    i'm pretty sure that legalising marijuana would sweep the rug out from underneath a hell of a lot criminal activity and taxing it would generate a load of cash.
    aaaand... if your life was 'ruined' by pot, it wasn't the pot, it was you. same with other drugs. responsibility is the word i'm looking for here and yes that term is perfectly compatible with drug experimentation.
    aand i'd like to say that any poster who uses anecdotal evidence might as well not bother because it is totally useless in any discussion or argument. they largely also seem to be the pro-johnson ones who can't type..... hmm.

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  • 63. At 7:44pm on 30 Oct 2009, feistylady wrote:

    How can Alan Johnson sack Professor Nutt for speaking the truth. Surely this is a political response aimed at protecting alcohol revenues.
    Anyone who has worked with offenders, had experience of alcohol related violence, drink driving, foetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol related physical or mental illness, the list is endless, knows that if alcohol was discovered today it would be classified 'A'
    Drinking is out of control in this country and we have to face up to this. No-one denies the problems caused by illegal drugs but alcohol is legal and more dangerous whether we like it or not.
    Alan Johnson would have been my reason for voting Labour at the next election - not any more !!!

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  • 64. At 7:48pm on 30 Oct 2009, Jaknet wrote:

    This government yet again shows that it is not interested in the facts or even saving anyone's health. All they seem to care about is lying, stealing and deceiving the population.

    I wonder how much money the home secretary was paid for this complete farce and who by... the alcohol and tobacco industry ??

    Re-instate Prof. Nutt and sack Alan Johnson for failing to follow any form of honest ethical reasoning... The pure cheek of sacking Prof. Nutt because the honest report that legal drugs are actually MORE harmful than many illegal drugs does not agree with the governments carefully built pile of lies and deceit.

    Get this bunch out of office ASAP.

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  • 65. At 7:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, purplegiddygirl wrote:

    I'm heartened to read (most of) the comments here by us, the general public. We can smell a rat a mile off and Johnson has made his first bid to be 'Big Brother'. Scary but true.

    I hope you all also noticed that the Tories backed him up! Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said the sacking had been "an inevitable decision" after Prof Nutt's "latest ill-judged contribution to the debate". - they're as bad as each other!

    The only one who speaks some sense is, as often is the case, the Lib Dems. Chris Huhne made some choice comments and once again shows that the Lib Dems are the only ones who can see the wood for the trees in that particular ivory tower.

    Time to give them a chance I say. Bring the election on.

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  • 66. At 7:56pm on 30 Oct 2009, badgercourage wrote:

    If David Cameron has any sense he will immediately announce that if he becomes Prime Minister he will re-appoint Prof. Nutt.

    However, I'm not holding my breath that he will - he's another politician, after all.

    As I said in response to an earlier post on this debate, the most dangerous drug around seems to be Politics - it seriously affects your judgement and makes yopu paranoid!

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  • 67. At 8:01pm on 30 Oct 2009, epicharis wrote:

    Does the Home Secretary realize how many of us have lost confidence in him?

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  • 68. At 8:02pm on 30 Oct 2009, James Rigby wrote:

    I thought there were employment protection laws which mean that someone can only be fired for a limited number of reasons. I'd be fascinated to know the reason in this case. "Telling the truth", "Having the temerity to disagree with the government" and "Winning the public argument" are not, as far as I am aware, among the allowable reasons. I wonder if he'll take them to an employment tribunal?

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  • 69. At 8:03pm on 30 Oct 2009, dotconnect wrote:


    "Politics before academics and intelligence - the labour way."

    Indeed. But be under no doubt - it would also be the Tory way.

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  • 70. At 8:04pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Facebook support group for the prof.

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  • 71. At 8:07pm on 30 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    as a German national living in the UK I cannot help but agree with litesp33d #26 -- echoes of thirties fascism.

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  • 72. At 8:07pm on 30 Oct 2009, Anravelle wrote:


    Oh my, yet another reaffirmation that so many politicians are simply incapable of grasping the root cause of such activism or are too cowardly to acknowledge it. I don’t typically like to generalise politicians or default to stating negative things about Parliament as a collective since that’s somewhat ‘easy’ to do and tends to be blind to so many things, but even I have to lose faith here.

    We have had high levels of judicial activism; we’re seeing levels of political activism amongst present or former military leaders increase; and now we have another example of activism amongst expert advisers increasing.

    Why is this? Personally, I believe it’s because other branches of our political machinery are attempting to compensate for the weakness of our legislature and executive. These two branches have become so very spineless, so very concerned with pandering to polls, and so obsessed with not risking offending voters via decisions that individuals such as Professor Nutt get ignored then are forced into activism in order to compensate for the huge deficit of leadership credentials.

    Regrettably, Professor Nutt has done what others have gotten away with and suffered for it. I expect that’s because the executive are under the impression he isn’t as entrenched or respected as others that have challenged them in the public consciousness, but I hope those that support evidence ruling decisions will prove them very wrong. Alan Johnson will need more than some attempt to conjure moral outrage about Nutt’s factually correct comment that horse riding harms more people than ecstasy to get people on his side. If anything, the belief that the public will agree with him over this matter based on that comment demonstrates how naive the minister believes us to be.

    I would also point out that I'm not polarised in the drugs debate, I have haven’t touched any in my life and wouldn’t risk it, but this decision strikes at the very principle of using evidence to make the best possible judgements for our society. It would be a victory for the executives cowardly pandering to ill-informed masses rather than showing leadership in the moral arena if this was permitted without ramifications.

    I certainly agree with the idea of a petition but with one small adjustment; “Bring back Nutt to deal with the nutters”.

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  • 73. At 8:09pm on 30 Oct 2009, MedMatt wrote:

    I am really saddened that this has happened. Sacking scientists for not towing the 'party line' is something which I would expect in a dictatorship.
    I have worked with the ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs) and found Professor Nutt to be highly professional and well respected within this field.
    The Professor should be free to discuss his thoughts and opinions, as this is what he is in this unpaid role for. He did not say that Cannabis or ecstacy were safe, but merely raised the issue that there are more harmful drugs (based on fact).Politicians should listen to experts, not decide what is and is not acceptable, because of public opinion and the fear of the Ballot Box.
    The classification of these drugs (i.e.A,B or C) is actually to determine what sort of legal action is taken, for people breaking the law. I do not take drugs, but work and have worked for many years with people who have and do take them. I think that Professor Nutts request to debate the issue re: there classification is a sensible stance, and that sometime criminalising youngsters in their teens, can have catastrophic effects on their future lives.

    I understand that drug use can also be catastrophic, and have seen the effects. However believe that the debate regarding their classification should still be able to take place, without the threat of sacking!

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  • 74. At 8:15pm on 30 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Moncur's Maraudeluders #32.

    "Drug use outside of the club scene and anti-social individuals is limited to the estates and other losers."

    live and learn...

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  • 75. At 8:16pm on 30 Oct 2009, bernard bof wrote:

    This is utterly shameful. I feel angrier about this than anything since Blair left.

    The triumph of political spin over reason. It disgusts me, absolutely.

    Alan Johnson must go, now.

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  • 76. At 8:18pm on 30 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    MedMatt #73.

    "..found Professor Nutt to be highly professional and well respected within this field."

    doesn't help, remember Dr David Kelly??

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  • 77. At 8:18pm on 30 Oct 2009, zac6x9 wrote:

    ‘There is nothing a government hates more than to be well-informed; for it makes the process of arriving at decisions much more complicated and difficult.’
    John Maynard Keynes

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  • 78. At 8:21pm on 30 Oct 2009, horse420 wrote:

    I sent this letter to my Local MP on 10th August 2009, still no reply. Our government is brilliant isn't it?

    "Dear Mr Wood,

    I am completely appalled at the Labour Government's handling of the current laws in regards to the
    classification of Cannabis.

    Despite the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs Cannabis report in 2008, which stated
    "Cannabis should remain a Class C drug", the Labour government reclassified Cannabis as a Class B drug on
    26 January 2009.

    I find myself genuinely confused as to why Cannabis was reclassified to a Class B drug, and as to why it remains
    one. Perhaps as my Local MP you would be able to tell me why when the government commissions research into
    the effects of a drug, it disregards its findings and does the opposite to the commissions recommendations? Also
    interesting to note is the fact that The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs have recommended the reclassification
    from Class B to Class C as early as 1979, a view endorsed by the Runciman Report in 1999.

    I am not alone in thinking that logically, if a problem has proved to be unsolvable, it is better to try
    controlling it instead of continuing to enforce laws with mixed results. By contrast, the Labour Government
    has taken the point of view that drugs are detrimental to society and therefore must be outlawed, even when such
    policies fail to eliminate drug use. The current methods of trying to eliminate drug use since the Misuse of Drugs
    Act 1971, and both reclassifications in 2004 and 2009, have so far only lead to an increase in the number of
    Cannabis users in the United Kingdom. This therefore proves that the government's methods of drug control have

    In stark contrast to the United Kingdom in terms of drug use is the Netherlands.

    This is taken from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

    "In the Netherlands 9.7% of young adults (aged 15–24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level
    in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%), but much higher than
    in, for example, Sweden (3%), Finland or Greece. Dutch rates of drug use are lower than U.S. rates in every
    category. The monthly prevalence of drugs other than cannabis among young people (15-24) was 4% in 2004, that
    was above the average (3%) of 15 compared countries in EU. However, seemingly few transcend to becoming problem
    drug users (0.3%), well below the average (0.52%) of the same compared countries."

    Also, the reported number of deaths linked to the use of drugs in the Netherlands, as a proportion of the
    entire population, is lower than the EU average.

    The statistics show that levels of drug use in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are strikingly different,
    and the statistics prove that the Netherlands' methods of drug control are far more effective than the
    United Kingdom's. What is the main difference between the two?

    The decriminilisation of Cannabis.

    I hope you will be able to find the time to read this and to carefully consider the points i have made.
    I look forward to hearing a reply from you.


    Marcus Horsley"

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  • 79. At 8:27pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    i would dearly love to see any combined team of anti-marijuana MP's get together and make their case. this is literally a challenge Westminster, find your best and brightest, at this stage even i or a slightly goofy spider monkey would win the debate.
    the pitch they love to go for is something along the lines of, "while we understand there is increasing public support for the legalisation of marijuana, it is a controversial substance and we would require further definitive study before making any decisions." they would then soften the supporters by suggesting the implementation of such a study. this would be before or after they warble out a laundry list of mostly erroneous issues concerning marijuana, my personal favorite of which is the "its getting stronger" angle.
    truth is, they have been studying the stuff for decades, and governments just dont like the answer they get. so, in this country, we toy around with a meaningless classification system, occsasionally tinkering and adjusting, posturing liberalism or conservatism depending on the circumstance.

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  • 80. At 8:28pm on 30 Oct 2009, quickMsDermina wrote:

    I would like to remind Mr Johnson, that he works on behalf of us (or at least he should do). I would suggest that any government official that ignores independant advice that it itself commisioned should in fact have to repay the cost of said commision.

    Prof Nutt did exactly the right thing, he spoke out against a corrupt government that only had own agenda rather than the health and well-being of the citizens.

    I commend you Proff Nutt, I only wish that more people would stand up to this odorous abuse of power.

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  • 81. At 8:29pm on 30 Oct 2009, Sophia wrote:

    This is nothing but cronyism and a protection racket! Because the Nutt 'E' Professor dared to mention how bad cigarettes and alcohol REALLY ARE, the unseen big boys have made a hoo-ha about it and got their low-life friends in the government to fire him! They are no different to any gangster organization protecting its own profits i.e. tax from cigarettes and alcohol. The politicians love to spout statistics...but ONLY when it suits them and their pockets...Good on you for standing up to them with science and sense, Prof Nutt! You're better off without those grubby, back-handing politicians anyway.

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  • 82. At 8:30pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    I sent this to the Lib dems and got this back.

    Sent: 30 September 2009 12:58
    To:; Libdemleader
    Subject: What is the Billon Dollar B (cannabis)

    Good Afternoon

    I have a few issues that i would like to make you aware of regarding the reclassification of cannabis to class B and its estimated impact upon the cannabis market in the UK.

    As a cannabis user of over 5 years now for medical reasons because the pharmaceutical drugs made life intolerable I have a great concern over the sudden and sharp rise in price of cannabis during 2007 the cannabis market was worth arounf the £4 billion mark with the average country wide price on the street of an ounce of cannabis settling at the £90 mark with only very small variance in the price.
    Now we have entered the Class B phase of cannabis the same street value has just passed £200 for an ounce were i live and I hear many reports of it reaching the £250 mark in Liverpool Birmingham and other cities around the country. This I expect to add 5 billion to the value of the cannabis market by the end of 2010, This 5 billion as in my case will come from recreational spending ie meals out cinema new dvds as I struggle to pay the £50 a quarter of an ounce from £25 for the same quarter of an ounce in 2007/2008.

    what i fail to understand is the lack of foresight in this matter especially as we are still recovering from what is deemed as a very bad social economic period.

    While i understand the aim of the mad cows decision to ignore the recommendations to leave it class C to try and reduce harm all that has happened is a huge profit shift and a fast rise in the home-grower as this market has now become so lucrative.

    I hope you take the time out to look at this matter and see if my predictions are right for a 9 billion market by the end of 2010 that's a lot of class A drugs!

    Good luck in the upcoming elections and you have my vote ill never tick labour again at any ballot box.

    Highest regards

    John Ellis

    From: Libdemleader (
    Sent: 08 October 2009 09:23:54
    To: John Ellis (
    1 attachment
    image001.gif (8.9 KB)

    Dear Mr Ellis,

    Many thanks for your email to Nick Clegg MP. Nick has asked me to contact you on his behalf. I’m sorry for the delay in responding and I hope you will understand that, due to the sheer volume of correspondence that Nick has been receiving, it can take some time for us to reply.

    The Liberal Democrats opposed the reclassification of cannabis to Class B. The government made this change despite its own advisers arguing that the classification should remain as Class C. We feel that policy should be made on the basis of expert advice and that we need to move towards a firmly evidence-based approach in this area. Which is why we would re-establish the existing Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs as a standing Drugs Commission with a wider range of expertise, greater independence from the Government, and a remit to look at social effects and abuse of legal drugs and illegal drugs. This would, we hope, help to set the whole debate onto a much more reasoned footing.

    Thank you once again for emailing.

    Best wishes,

    Douglas Dowell

    Office of Nick Clegg MP

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  • 83. At 8:31pm on 30 Oct 2009, Sallybugs wrote:

    Yet another disgraceful act on the part of a desperately populist government. They make fools of themselves in taking this illogical stance against evidence based opinion. I gather that in a recent Select Committee on drug use they called Amy Winehouse's dad as an expert witness, says everything doesn't it? Any substance misuse worker worth their salt(I know I was one) could give better information but hey, let's not ask anyone who might have a clue with an objective perspective, no, let's ask someone whose very famous daughter has hit the tabloid headlines. This government is playing with people's lives when they give an inaccurate, over-the-top, emotive view of the situation, why would young people listen to a word they say when they can see the lies and hypocrisy spouted by their supposed elders and betters? They deliberately set about making it impossible to have a rational debate which might lead to a much more effective drug policy which tells the truth about the dangers of drug use.

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  • 84. At 8:32pm on 30 Oct 2009, BradleyCourt wrote:

    It is important to get risks in perspective, and Government policy should be based on this, but life isn't like that. One hears what one wants to hear. David Nutt's comparison of horseriding and the use of ecstasy is very probably correct, but admittedly it sounds frivolous, probably because he is not a politician, and deals in evidence. This has given the Government an excuse. If it doesn't want evidence it shouldn't ask for it.

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  • 85. At 8:33pm on 30 Oct 2009, vacuum_man wrote:

    Govt . scientific advisor sacked for .... STATING FACTS ??

    Do NuLab have the same attitude towards their other scientific advisors ? Strangely , they do seem to. I heard some dreamy voiced girl from a Green Think Tank Govt financed energy advisory Quango on the radio a while back who seriously seemed to believe we could keep the lights on in this country by all having a windmill in the back yard & a solar panel on the roof and a little friendly goblin pedalling away on a magic bicycle in the cellar. [ok i made the last bit up] .

    Like 'weapons of mass destruction' , the FACTS really don't seem to matter to this fantastical crowd of idiots, do they ? ( Tories appear no better , so no I'm not partisan)

    Are we headed for a world where objective fact is decided by Cabinet Committee ? Shall we just ( say ) repeal the laws of gravity inside tall buildings ? Spend billions we haven't got ? Arrive at the truth by a poll of Daily Mail readers ?

    Why not ?

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  • 86. At 8:37pm on 30 Oct 2009, dudepod45 wrote:

    No point in blaming New Labour. A Tory Home Secretary would have taken similar action. What appears to influence political decisions is how they will run in the Sun, Daily Mail, etc. As the LibDem home affairs spokesman said, we might as well have a committee of tabloid editors advising government. Oh for a prime minister who has the courage of his or her convictions and to hell with the tabloids.

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  • 87. At 8:42pm on 30 Oct 2009, Andrew Lindop wrote:

    We are creating a class of criminals from ordinary folk every day. No longer do we have the unruly council estate scum in court for possession, these days its trainee Drs,Nurses,Engineers,Scientists etc.
    I think the time has come for a new approach - end the ban, start taxing and educating. The children no longer listen to our lies,hysterics and tabloid science we have lost the battle with drugs. We must now concentrate on the aftermath

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  • 88. At 8:43pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    The SUN has banned me lol wonder why :)

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  • 89. At 8:45pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    there are some comments on the board regarding facism or the slow stroll into facism this country is taking..
    anyone remember one Dr. Kelly?
    I trust this government less then i trust.. a nightmarish figment of Cheney, BushII and Rumsfeld all rolled into one. Wielding a shotgun.

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  • 90. At 8:54pm on 30 Oct 2009, Arthur Brede wrote:

    Here we go again. The following is long, but worth reading. It is an extract from the most sensible, balanced book on drugs - including alcohol and tobacco - that I have eve read. No politician or journalist should be without it. Under the rather unfortunately over-clever title of 'Drug Scenes' it is the work of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, first published in 1987. This is from the beginning of the chapter on cannabis.
    Open quote
    "Every now and then an official committee manages to produce a report which turns upside-down all the usual expectations that government reports must for ever be boring and platitudinous. On such an occasion society is presented with an incisive or even disturbing analysis of a particular problem which provides an important example of how important social issues should be analysed dispassionately. The tone of public debate is enriched. In hard days comfort can be drawn from the evidence of the qualities in our society such a report provides.
    The Wootton Report on Cannabis, issued in 1968, was undoubtedly a publication of that stature. Its distinction owed much to the chairman of its committee, Baroness Wootton, who is not only a social scientist of renown but a critic and commentator famous for her independence of mind. The background review of the literature was carried out by Sir Aubrey Lewis, whose name was a byword to generations of psychiatrists for unforgiving scientific exactness. The committee's membership represented a spectrum of scientific and public experience. Its provenance was the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence (a government-appointed body which preceded the present Advisory Council) and Barbara Wootton's cannabis committee was a working group of the main Committee.
    After a painstaking review of the evidence the Wootton Committee concluded that the dangers of moderate use cannabis had been exaggerated, while emphasising that cannabis was not free from risk. The report explicitly recommended against legalisation of the drug but suggested that penalties for smale-scale possession should be reduced.
    It might have been expected that such a piece of writing with its few, well-reasoned, and clear conclusions would have been widely welcomed as a basis for temperate and informed debate. It is the essential argument of this chapter that such an expectation is naive; the cannabis debate has not been very much concerned with the facts but has been the stage for a fundemental clash of values. Facts, science, objectivity, truth, dispassionate analysis have all been obscured in the resulting confrontation.
    It is a sad reminder that a society which can on occasion produce a brilliant committee report is commonly the same society which will display a crass inability to respond to the challenge of fresh thinking."
    Quote ends.
    There follow quotes from the press, not all of it tabloid, that make me ashamed to have been a journalist. There are also quotes from Hansard that are utterly cringeworthy, including the ludicrous suggestion by James Callaghan (then Home Seceretary, later P.M.)that Baroness Wootton had somehow been 'nobbled' by the pro-pot lobby. The song was the same - inability to recognise evidence in the face of prejudice and a media dedicated to alcohol on a massive scale (anyone remember 'Lunchtime O'Booze' and 'Arry 'Ardcastle'. I worked with 'em for years, and worse.)
    Find 'Drug Scenes' somewhere, anywhere. Scan it, put it on the net, send it to your MP, whatever. But read it. It may be a touch dated, but it's the best balanced summary of everything that's appeared here so far that you'll ever find.
    Here endeth the sermon. Wake up at the back and let us all out for a smoke. Well, actually, no thanks, friend, it leads to unhealthy, addictive, life-destructive things, like tobacco. Try this chocolate mix......

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  • 91. At 8:56pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    Community Criminal! post 82, you raise another excellent point. while some feel uncomfortable or are unable to relate to the minimal contrast between cannabis and alcohol or tobacco, pharmaceutical drugs are a different matter.
    Make no mistake, pharmaceutical companies are drug pushers with a profit margin in mind. And they kill people. But they hide behind the weak defense of their altruistic intent and the provision of 'side-effects' on drug packets. Anti-depressants are so goddamn dangerous, if a doctor messes up a presciption that person can be in real trouble. I can definitely relate to that fact.
    If these companies can legally flog some of the garbage they do (admittedly amongst a host of life saving and crucial medication) then governments have NO argument against decriminilising marijuana.

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  • 92. At 8:56pm on 30 Oct 2009, CeiteagBheag wrote:

    So we have to choose between believing the Government or one of the country's leading experts on drugs. It's a no-brainer really.
    It's about time the Government stopped confusing us about the dangers of drugs, and stop pretending that their policies are based on the harm that particular substances cause to individuals and society.

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  • 93. At 8:57pm on 30 Oct 2009, brynmill wrote:

    When Governments don't listen to their advisors it is time to vote them out - what a shame the Tories seem to support this sacking - No wonder fringe parties are doing so well

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  • 94. At 8:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, fredrickpartisan wrote:

    Complete and utter disgrace.

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  • 95. At 9:00pm on 30 Oct 2009, 3B wrote:

    6. At 5:53pm on 30 Oct 2009, bb76090 wrote:

    One thing that Professor Nutt has overlooked may be due to him being a neuro scientist, concerned with the brain and damage to the brain. Cannabis does other damage too, to the lungs which no one seems to be discussing.
    I smoked weed and skunk weed for about 20 years. Last year my lung collapsed and I ended up in hospital, had a drain fitted and went home after 5 days, once my lung had re-inflated. 13 days later, my lung collapsed again and I was back in hospital, another drain fitted and same thing, lung back up, home, collapsed again, back in hospital and then, sent for surgery to establish the problem.
    The surgeon expected to find a problem and was surprised to find loads of holes on my lung, caused by smoking. They are called bulla, like blisters on the lungs. I had a bullectomy in May 2009 at Papworth hospital.
    There were others on the wards I met, all smoking weed or cocaine, all with collapsed lungs. The worst thing for me was, that I had been smoking for so long, like everyone else, I was give morphine to get rid of pain, and it would not work, because my body was so used to drugs.

    Sorry to hear about your health problems bb76090, but you've hit the nail on the head regarding the real health issue surrounding cannabis.

    Sadly information on the big health risks is drowned out by hysteria when it comes to illegal drugs.

    If cannabis was taken in food or tea its is unlikely to ever cause you much harm. As you rightly point out, however, smoking anything carries serious health risks.

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  • 96. At 9:04pm on 30 Oct 2009, gawbul wrote:

    This really is an absolute disgrace; a prime example of the government censoring empirical evidence that controvenes their views! It shows their true hidden agenda through what simply amounts to a form of propaganda! Its all about control, keeping the masses under the thumb and away from sources of information that might give them the opportunity to question!

    I'm all for people being able to voice their opinion, as long as it is educated and not an unfounded, impulsive response to a subject they know nothing about scientifically! This seems to be the case here with Mr. Johnson and I'd hasten to add that we will likely see several such responses here!

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  • 97. At 9:04pm on 30 Oct 2009, pen_nomad wrote:

    Re: The unfair sacking of Professor David Nutt.

    I think it's disgraceful that personal and party politics can over-ride well documented scientific evidence.
    What other Lies are the Government telling us (besides how much they claim in expenses)?
    Alcohol and Tobacco cause far more harm to society yet the Government condones them. Could it be about the Revenue recieved from them?
    Are the Government selling our health for political and financial gain?

    From Pen in Fleetwood

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  • 98. At 9:08pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    I lost a very close friend who was also my best man and one of my childrens god parents to pharmacutical drugs they choped and changed the dose and gave him a heart attack age 32..

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  • 99. At 9:10pm on 30 Oct 2009, Andrew Lindop wrote:

    Professor David Nutt - Chairman

    Psychiatrist and pharmacologist University of Bristol. Currently Professor of Psychopharmacology and Head of Dept of Community Based Medicine. Bristol University and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust. Professor David Nutt also holds the post of Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London.

    When this man tells you Cannabis is not that bad - you listen.

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  • 100. At 9:10pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    oh i know i have a pertition on NO 10 asking for cannabis based compaines to be removed from the stock market as they provide wealth to inderviduals/members of the public that can afford to buy into it.

    Herbstock quick ref

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  • 101. At 9:13pm on 30 Oct 2009, blimeynotagain wrote:

    My admiration goes to Prof. Nutt for his moral courage and scientific integrity.

    This is reminiscent of when Harman made the bonkers assertion that Fred Goodwin's pension was "unacceptable in the court of public opinion." Once again this Mad Hatter's tea party government of ours simultaneously buries its head in the sand and makes an inept playground bully's show of strength.

    I couldn't help noticing the letter's second rate English: the bizarre creation of a plural noun, 'harms' - and an almost complete lack of punctuation. Small beer maybe, but it's indicative of wider incompetence and of playing fast and loose.

    There's a dash of irony in the request for Prof. Nutt to step down with immediate effect: our Home Secretary and this whole government are about to be told to step down with effect from next summer.

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  • 102. At 9:15pm on 30 Oct 2009, james wrote:

    This expert should be reinstated and the Ignoramus who made him resign should pack it in themselves.

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  • 103. At 9:23pm on 30 Oct 2009, Dave wrote:

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

  • 104. At 9:24pm on 30 Oct 2009, pbrandwood wrote:

    Would be really good to see this on Have Your Say.

    Come on BBC step up to the plate and lets get the publics view properly engaged.

    Is the BBC up for getting proper input - how about a simple Yes No poll vote on the web site?

    Without a doubt the government has got it wrong. Let's prove it.

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  • 105. At 9:29pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    post 101, nice points, particularly the last paragraph.
    it'll be an interesting distinction between ours and the american govnernment. The US are recently out of a distasterous administration, we're a little bit behind them. I say so based on the hope that any new government will be better then this one.
    Bush was very quiet in his last months of office. I wonder what Brown et al will do. Somehow I expect they wont follow Bush, who arguably salvaged/clung onto some pride by keeping his mouth shut and hiding away, so that he might not screw anything else up.
    I get the grim feeling this government will go bonkers. I expect to see some bizzare and outlandish moves from the Labor bench in the near future, that I simply hope wont do too much damage!

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  • 106. At 9:30pm on 30 Oct 2009, delminister wrote:

    i am in total agreement with number one on this.
    once you disagree with this government you can expect to be removed but the after kick they use just shows how small minded and petty this current government really is and shows us the voting public that they should be removed before they do further harm.
    under this neu-labour government of the past 10 plus years i can honestly say i am ashamed to be called british.

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  • 107. At 9:39pm on 30 Oct 2009, martinaoe2 wrote:

    Hi, As an Irish citizen and a proud social marijuana smoker, I am again incensed by this ideological position the British gov. has taken.

    I demand they stop lying to the nation and stand up to science instead of dismissing it. The fear monger over this supposed harmful effects of "skunk" I could put up with but this I am outraged.

    I demand that the people in power get out of our lives and stop forcing us to live to their rule instead of the peoples.

    I signed up for this event alone. I am so angry right now you can not even comprehend it. This is setting another precedent were they just ignore the facts in favour of their ideology/public backlash.

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  • 108. At 9:40pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    lol polls i know a nice poll it currently stands 13/87 ;)

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  • 109. At 9:44pm on 30 Oct 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    This should be on Have Your Say. It's an utter disgrace, and a very important issue.

    Drug policy is a health policy,should be based on science, not political ideology.

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  • 110. At 9:47pm on 30 Oct 2009, freemind66 wrote:

    I find it strange that the two legal recreational drugs - alchohol and tobacco actually kill more people each year than all the illegal or controlled drugs put together. That's not strange in itself but consider - if all the illegal drugs were legalized they would actually be cleaner and safer to use.
    Skunk is a different argument, it's effects compared to traditional varieties can be compared to switching from drinking pints of beer to pints of vodka, but some of us are sensible drinkers...
    Cannabis is an incredibly powerful drug, it amplifies the mind of the user. If you're stupid it will make you more so. If you're intelligent it will induce complexities of thought that are wonderful.
    If you're susceptible to mental illness or have an addictive nature it will wreck your life.
    This drug is neither good or bad but there will always be casualties.

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  • 111. At 9:49pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Tell you what its nice to see so many new faces on Marks blog hope you all stay :) and nice to see people taking interest in whats happening to the UK :P

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  • 112. At 9:53pm on 30 Oct 2009, Cyril Ord wrote:

    Once more this stupid administration refuses to have its judgements clouded by mere trivia such as facts. Why should we be surprised by the same people who falsely steered us into a war when they get rid of the expertise which could guide them to sensible decisions? How can any sane person continue to support this sham of a government?

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  • 113. At 9:57pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    I think most of the posts on have your say would get moderated given current public feeling :\

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  • 114. At 9:57pm on 30 Oct 2009, U9388581 wrote:

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

  • 115. At 9:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, David B wrote:

    I'd just like to add my voice to those who think that the sacking of a scientific advisor whose views are not seen as politically correct is a disgrace.

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  • 116. At 10:03pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    Extending the marijuana vs alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals issue, you can even consider food products. Condradicting my earlier comment on anecdotal evidence, I have to state that, now to my shame I earlier today ate a large burger meal from one of the major fast food establishments. Shortly after i truthfully felt worse then any joint has ever made me feel. So yes, contradictory to some stereotypes, not all 'stoners' are slavering goons incapable of articulation and living only for munch and 24. Bauer forever.
    However, to give the story some creedance, imagine if I ate said meal at a relative rate to the amount of marjiuana i smoked. This perfectly legal, cheap, and inescapably available burger. I'd be dead or suffering from any combination of diabetes or heart, liver or kidney problems, and I'd be horribly obese.
    There is so little genuine balance in the things that are available to us that criminalising weed seems completely arbitrary.

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  • 117. At 10:09pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    Great link CommunityCriminal

    One last word for tonight I think: REFERENDUM

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  • 118. At 10:15pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Rock these are all valid arguments but the second you make a suggestion that FAT is a killer and fat people are to lazy or use up twice the retail and medical resources a thin person needs your in trouble for discrimination :)
    from my other post.

    "the current treatment of cannabis users both medically and recreationaly is discrimination in all its forms we see it every day in the media headlines that if you replaced the word drug addict/user and replaced it with black or queer would have people in court on charges, but no its okay just a drug user....."

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  • 119. At 10:18pm on 30 Oct 2009, suchan104 wrote:

    Prof Nutt provides EVIDENTIAL-based scientific opinion as he is required to do. The government makes moral decisions about drugs. Science makes no decisions about morals and never will. That is not the job of scientists. Alan Johnson's rejection of Prof Nutt's comments and advice is just typical of the contempt with which politicians treat science in this country. As a scientist I see the political meddling in science policy everyday as the government constantly seeks to mess around with (and in the process destory) one of the most successful national scientific communities in the world. Prof Nutt may have been sacked now, Alan Johnson will hopefully follow him shortly.

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  • 120. At 10:26pm on 30 Oct 2009, madbritian wrote:

    well done mark, just watched your news at ten report and you cocked it right up. People who believe the governments stance on drugs were left with your confirmation of their incorrect beliefs. you said that ectasy was more dangerous that horse-riding and that cannabis was more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. What the hell was the point in covering the story to get the truth out there, if you get it the wrong way round.

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  • 121. At 10:28pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Um this is scary stuff while were on about ignoring sound advice..

    US IL: 'Shake-and-Bake' Meth Harder to Detect

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  • 122. At 10:29pm on 30 Oct 2009, TWSI wrote:

    The key point here is not what we feel about Cannabis (albeit people's personal testimonials about people they've known are not particularly helpful). I do not think it's [cannabis] a great lifestyle choice personally but think it's up to individuals to make decisions for themselves. Illegality as we currently have it exacerbates problems and costs fortunes in policing IMO. But what I think is not the issue.

    If this was someone in the USA damning science we'd be all uppity about how dumb they were.

    So Alan Johnson is on a par with the "intelligent [sic] design" believers for me. He seems to see science advisor as a branch of govt so if he says something the scientist has to prove him correct somehow. Peer review that? Johnson clearly has no idea that science is not like Govt and other things that change their text and policy on whim.

    Quite what clown they can drag up who will deny the evidence is beyond me but as Malcolm Tucker said if you disagree with an expert get another one.

    What can one expect from an 18 year post man with no stated opinion on a postal strike something one would have thought he'd be better placed to deal with than the science of the damage that drugs do. It seems he has no specialist subject.

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  • 123. At 10:30pm on 30 Oct 2009, Sallybugs wrote:

    Oh yes, just one more point. Maybe Alan Johnson should reflect on the fact that, as we keep being told that it's skunk that does the damage unlike the old-fangled harmless dope that we (Jaqui Smith, et al) used to smoke, that the growing of skunk is the consequence of cannabis being illegal in the first place. Yes, lots of varieties of all sorts of strengths used to be available until the police & customs & excise went crazy swooping on easy to find dope smugglers - hmm... There are always huge consequences under prohibition, no lessons learned then...

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  • 124. At 10:30pm on 30 Oct 2009, parentblogger wrote:

    Well done to the government for taking a stand. Is Prof Nutt a parent. If he is, then he should know that drugs are the biggest threat to our children and for him to downplay the dangers is wrong. Canabis is where it starts - harder drugs often follow. He seems to suggest that it is wrong for the government to take a moral stand on drugs. Why? The government is supposed to given moral guidance.

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  • 125. At 10:33pm on 30 Oct 2009, john wrote:

    This is nothing short of disgraceful.

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  • 126. At 10:39pm on 30 Oct 2009, Ian Glossop wrote:

    David Nutt got it wrong.

    He seemed to think the Government's drug policy is about protecting society from the harm of intoxicating but potentially noxious substances.

    Of course it isn't.

    It is about appealing to certain sections of the elctorate by appearing to send the 'right' messages in order that they may secure their votes and thereby continue to enjoy the privilege of exercising power. What the 'right' message is - is nothing to do with any actual relative harm the various substances, or other activities, might do.

    Advisors advise, ministers decide - quite right.

    But any minister (or succession of them) who consistently denies evidence and is shown to make arbitrary, capricious decisions - like sacking a world-class advisor because he doesn't like the facts being presented - surely shows himself to be at best delusional and suffering from personality defects. Isn't this sufficient grounds for relieving the minister of his decision-making post?

    In any case, the Home Secretary has lost the confidence (I would say) of his employers - and the principle has been clearly established that where this occurs the employee cannot continue to hold his post.

    Or is it one rule for chairmen of advisory councils and another for ministers (just like with expenses)?

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  • 127. At 10:40pm on 30 Oct 2009, carrie wrote:

    CommunityCriminal wrote:" carrie obviously you cant see past the current situation all the things you describe are a result of a problem. a problem made worse by people such as yourself sweeping it under the carpet were it cant be seen.

    Carrie I came to the conclusion all drugs should be legal after my brother died of a heroin overdose. What has influenced your decision to support the continuation of this war on drugs???"

    Sorry for the delay in writing to you, CommunityCriminal. All the things I described will still exist, legal or not! Addiction causes all these things, just like overuse of alcohol causes cirrhosis, smoking too much causes many cancers and other disease. So overuse of any of the drugs at present on the illegal list will continue to cause the afflictions I mentioned. I would never want it all swept under the carpet, I have spent years working with people in such difficulties and have an enormous affection rather than any kind of Hitleresque dislike of such people, as of course I know addiction is an illness.

    I am sorry about your brother. Do you think he wouldn't have been a heroin user who overdosed if it had been legal? No-one can know. As far as the war on drugs you quote me as supporting, I am just wanting to be part of the group of professionals and ex-professionals who want to make sure that if people buy these drugs illegally, they should understand the pit that may be lying there waiting for them. At present the Government and this Committee are so confusing the consumers and it is bringing all the wrong sort of arguments out in to the public arena instead of actually educating people of the risks.

    As far as Ecstasy is concerned, it is a time bomb lying in wait for those with the genetic makeup to abreact later in life. On this I totally trust the Dutch research and also the views of the many doctors who disagree with Professor Nutt.

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  • 128. At 10:45pm on 30 Oct 2009, DaveH wrote:

    This is just the same as the NHS electronic records saga for ENgland - the government set up a clinical advisory committee - which told them that the plans were wrong, so what did they do - did they listen to the professional advice - of course not - they abolished the committee and replaced it by stooges - they never change!

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  • 129. At 10:47pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    you pulled me back in! Alas I will admit to having a chip on my shoulder from time to time regarding weight and healthcare issues, but I do largely try to remain egalitarian. Fair enough that post may have had discriminatory elements but in thinking it through I still make the valid point about consumer values. While you can't deny that some of the food products out there are horrific, i could have equally used skydiving or race car driving. there are all too many activities deemed legal that are absolutely life threatening in both immediate and long term ways. i've therefore always found it rather fickle of governments to draw boundaries of any kind other then those found in fundemental moral values.
    to be continued

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  • 130. At 10:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, Katharine1970 wrote:

    Evidence that I see every day through my work strongly suggests that Professor Nutt couldn't be more wrong. Maybe he is completely out of touch with the realities of cannabis in the lives of young people today.

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  • 131. At 10:55pm on 30 Oct 2009, GreatProphetZarkwan wrote:

    It seems to be about time the so called "unsayable" is said and the real debates dragged out into the open.

    What exactly do we benefit in clarity by gagging a longstanding thinker in his field?

    Especially in the name of misguided political expediency.

    Time for the academics to bite back en-masse perchance?

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  • 132. At 10:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, oldnat wrote:

    The actions of Government (and I have no reason to believe it would be any different with any other party) are reminiscent of "Bush science".

    We need a real debate around all the issues, but it will continue to be driven off course by the media scare-mongering. Before a proper debate can take place every journalist and editor needs to have their own drug use available to be in the public domain.

    Government by hypocritical politicians is bad. Government by hypocritical journalists is worse.

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  • 133. At 10:59pm on 30 Oct 2009, telecasterdave wrote:

    Gordon Brown is now a drugs expert. Funny he hasn't classified tobacco and alcohol among the worst kind of drugs. Maybe that's because he gets tax revenue from Tobacco and alcohol that he can waste on doing up MOD offices in Whitehall.
    Call an election now!

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  • 134. At 11:05pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    following on Community, what you say about perceptions of drug users is all too true, and of course, regular smokers.
    unfortunately for these people they're unlikely to benefit from a civil rights movement because they are lifestyle choices and not healthy. neither, must i cheekily add, is maintaining an unhealthy diet but obviously thats not the only cause of weight problems and as mentioned, there are certainly more hazardous things to engage in.
    have to add that your comments have been good to read^^

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  • 135. At 11:06pm on 30 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Katharine1970 #130.

    "Evidence that I see every day through my work strongly suggests that Professor Nutt couldn't be more wrong."

    such as??

    if you make such a strong statement shouldn't you give at least one or two examples?

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  • 136. At 11:07pm on 30 Oct 2009, Ian Glossop wrote:

    Four legs good. Two legs bad.

    Cannabis is class B. Alcohol is OK.

    We are all equal...

    ...but some of us will get second homes paid for.

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  • 137. At 11:08pm on 30 Oct 2009, is rafa playing the kuyt? wrote:

    look at what happened when the gov spent millions on a report on how to save 10% in the NHS. the report stated- get rid of 10% of the staff!

    nick griffins appearance on question time was comdemned, why?

    i remember his last report about down grading ecstasy, the gov slammed the report.

    if this government can not handle the truth and insist on sweeping every conflicting piece of evidence under the carpet we are in serious danger of becoming a comnunist state!

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  • 138. At 11:11pm on 30 Oct 2009, jonathanbw wrote:

    Why is the way that scientific evidence has been manipulated by the anti-smoking lobby overlooked?
    There is no convincing evidence that passive smoking poses a significant threat to health (a parliamentary committee drew this conclusion a year or so before the ban came in). The Department of Health's own figures show that the ban has led to no reduction in smoking (in fact some groups are smoking more in 'smoke-free England). The evidence that community facilities such as pubs and clubs are being driven out of business by the ban is overwhelming. And the studies suggesting dramatic reductions in the number of heart attacks because of smoking bans that got so much publicity last year turned out to be statistically dubious.
    Perhaps the answer is that science cannot exist in some kind of objective moral vacuum any more than any other human activity.

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  • 139. At 11:13pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    From a legal clinic now he could not have purchased such a quantity.
    From a doctor pre 1971 no it would have been a prescribed amount.
    Pre 1971 heroin dealers got life now they get a fine.

    Pills or as they used to be know E are very dangerous in none Pharma hands how about the shake n bake meth ;) think that will go down well ?

    there is only one path we as a society can follow if future generations are not to suffer designer drugs of instant addiction, legalise the main drugs of use free those that are in prison for low level dealing IE got caught going to main dealer for a few people/friends and those that grow small quantities for personal use/small group use. Set out a legal framework based on space to grow cannabis (this would restrict weight) legal outlets for QA products with half the profit going to Communities for expansion of Child and young person support.
    Heroin moved to prescription only with full support to reduce drug use and balance life/work with a view to full recovery when the addict is ready.
    Pills and cocaine both under strict pharmacological control at point of sale with health check and interview at purchase (interview to make client aware of full danger and warning signs that something is wrong).

    so that's a basic for how to control the substance now to the current black market and back street dealing.
    A 6 month amnesty on small grow ops to register size and who is involved in production/crop share. Inspected and licenced by CSO's. After this Period a mandatory 15 years for none registered growing or supply.
    A dutch style system for the coffee/meeting places setup as this works.
    current class A drug addicts registered and directed into health services once evaluated provided with a prescription under supervision in return for a work/life contract to help stabilize and move the addict back into a meaningful life.
    Again a 6 month amnesty to stop dealing then 15 - 25 years in prison for supply.
    Outlets setup in local health centre's or other secure centre's with medical staff to sell cocaine and a variety of pills (medical and interview required to purchase)All substance will be of NHS pharmaceutical quality.

    Same sentence and conditions for dealers.

    Professor Nutt can market his new alcohol replacement drug through them.

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  • 140. At 11:16pm on 30 Oct 2009, Euforiater wrote:

    I could not possibly express my level of contempt for 32's mindless opinions which could only have come straight from a tabloid column.

    The sacking of David Nutt has made me and millions of other people in this country EXTREMELY angry. As far as I'm concerned if Science is to be consulted it has to be followed, not ignored for the interests of big business. You can make your profits but freedom is not negotiable.
    The response in support of this action by the Tories leaves me with no doubt which two parties are profiting from Cannabis prohibition.

    Good on Chris Huyne for saying "if the government did not want to take expert scientific advice, it might as well have "a committee of tabloid newspaper editors to advise on drugs policy". More than just a Freudian slip.

    Time for a "Panorama" methinks..

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  • 141. At 11:17pm on 30 Oct 2009, Doctuer_Eiffel wrote:

    Just say no to Labour and Conservative. Both cheeks of the same R's.

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  • 142. At 11:18pm on 30 Oct 2009, Barton-Kid wrote:

    This is quite simply rediculous! what happened to a democracy, where every persons oppinion was taken into account?
    At the end of the day if you do not agree with the government they punish you, its more of a dictatorship, run by the MPs who disregard anything they do not like the sound of. They have no consideration for the public and economic well being of this country, and this is just more evidence to prove this, all they seem to be concerned about is their bank accounts! What happened to free will? we don't even have the freedom to decided what we wish to intoxicate our own bodies with. Surely if given all the true scientific information about different drugs it should be up to us what we decide to take and not take not the government. At this rate they will be a law on what foods we can eat and at hat time we can go the toilet! The wastes of spaces that call themselves our government, and drain us of our hard earned money to pay for their expensive tastes, need removing from power and replacing with people who know how to run a country! I would even go as far as saying I could do a better job myself, and I know as a mere 20 year old thats a bold statement but what good have they done to our country? Pensioners are struggling to get by and the miniscule state pension, our prisons are being filled up by people who are of no harm to the public, we have no freedom in what we choose to intoxicate our bodies with, and they could fix the economy easily but the choose not to down to their pure ignorance of scientific fact, but of course theres nothing the public can really do because they abuse their power and use the police to enforce rediculous laws that bring in money for them rather than concentrating on the crimes that effect the well being and safety of the UK citizens. The government are a disgrace to this country and are an bunch of criminals to the UK. I must also add that I do not mean any of this in a violent fashion, but simply that a change needs to be made for the good of this country and its citizens.

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  • 143. At 11:18pm on 30 Oct 2009, TechSing wrote:

    This sacking is absolutely disgusting. What message does this send out about the government (and indeed the Conservatives who have agreed with Alan Johnson on this). How dare the government act as if it can rewrite scientific evidence to suit its irrational, ignorant view point? What does this say about the quality of other decisions that it may be making or indeed the conservatives may make in the future. Can we trust anything it says with regard to pandemic flu, global warming or the war in Afghanistan if it orders its advisers to act like yes-men or be fired. I fear for the future of our country if politicians think they can get away with this kind of corruption on a day to day basis.

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  • 144. At 11:20pm on 30 Oct 2009, theirlies wrote:

    So after this prime demonstration of government directing "independent advice", are we still believe all those "independent scientists" and experts who claim Global Warming is real? Or are we to assume that their advise on GW falls purely in-line with "government policy"? Government policy being to promote the illusion of Global Warming, in order to slap huge amounts of "Eco tax" on each and every one of us.

    The government is a completely corrupt. They only pay for "expert advice" that agrees with their policy, and the silly public take the word of bought and paid-for government "experts". As though their word holds weight, when in fact they dare not go against what the government wants the public to be told.

    Mr. Nutt is a brave and honest man. If only the rest of them had his scruples.

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  • 145. At 11:21pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    and ultimately as some of the previous posts indicate, alcohol is the much more obvious target when it comes to inequality of policy. i could hit the whisky tonight and be dead by morning, but no amount of marijuana could possibly achieve the same immediate damage, and i personally believe the long term risks of alcohol abuse are in the very least as dangerous as marijuana abuse.
    i mentioned responsibility in an earlier comment, and even though it is proved on a daily basis that not everyone is responsible with alcohol, and yet it is legal.
    studies prove that cannabis is no more dangerous then alcohol. it does not incite violence and curiously tests have shown that a 'stoned' individual will generally drive with greater caution. all of this begs me and clearly others to ask that considering the jury is basically in on the health front, why does the government trust us with alcohol and not cannabis?

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  • 146. At 11:22pm on 30 Oct 2009, U9388581 wrote:

    The government is here to GOVERN.

    The ADVISORS may advise as requested.

    They may be experts in the medical effects, cost of harm , likely outcomes in terms of death etc, but it is the government who are charged with protecting our society against trends, activities and behaviours that despite their appeal harm the fabric of society.

    They can not reverse thousands of years of human development.

    They can apply a braking effect to actions that may cause as yet undetermined damage to that fabric.

    Widespread cannabis use is a myth! It is segregated by certain socio-economic groupings.

    It causes least damage to those classes where education and ability give a choice of lifestyles and activities; and is utterly corrosive in the meaningless squalor of the sink estates where any means of numbing the existensial agony of daily existence is grasped with all its potential consequences for a Hogarthian hell substituting Dope for gin.

    The obvious bias of this issue's reportage via the BBC and in particular this blog, seem to indicate that there is no random drug testing in the establishment.

    The output in certain areas seems by my experience of functioning druggies to indicate that in some areas of the organisation it is almost compulsory.

    I have just watched 30 minutes of prime time BBC1 News that if it had been restricted to factual reporting would have lasted no more than 3 minutes. That is a fairly normal ratio for the conversational output of the average functioning Cannabis user.

    I am not one who believes cannabis per se is an evil; I have a biochemical educational background , my objections to its legalisation and spread are purely to do with what is does to populations rather than the individual.

    As to the professor who has been so rightly required to resign; no one elcted him to proselytise , no one in government required him to make policy statements, it is obvious that he has acquired a political position regarding his subject.

    In that case he should take it to the public as an independent advocate of drug legalisation and like ALL those who have taken that route gain a few hundred votes in a by-election.

    You are all so, so ,so wrong in your advocacy and it has nothing to do with leading on to harder drugs, individual freedoms or whether Alcohol and Tobacco are more physically dangerous.

    It is about the TRUE moral state of the nation.

    I say that as a committed opponent of any myth based beliefs, i.e religions, philosophies based on non scientifically proved premises, in fact anything that purports to belief in any other fact than that we live as best we can and then cease to exist.

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  • 147. At 11:23pm on 30 Oct 2009, PickmansModel wrote:

    At 6:23pm on 30 Oct 2009, read_animalfarm wrote:

    "Not being a scientist"

    - that much is evident from your comments

    "my instinct as a parent"

    - viz, never mind the evidence because I've made up my mind based on no evidence at all

    "told me that Professor Nutt was speaking more than he told about access to drugs in the UK. It's clear that Professor Nutt has NO idea that children in UK who buy cannabis from dealers are unaware that they the next victim for dealers who 'loss lead' for more expensive, more addictive and more lucrative class A drugs."

    - this nonsensical idea has been about for decades and is simply untrue. There's never any shortage of customers for illegal drugs. Is this poster Alan Johnson - although it seems unlikely since they claim to have read a book.

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  • 148. At 11:25pm on 30 Oct 2009, calmandhope wrote:


    What a surprise! I've just tried searching for the bringbacknutt on the no10 website and for some reason it wouldn't let me find it. Me thinks a few people have been protesting a bit faster then they were expecting.

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  • 149. At 11:29pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Cheers Rock :)

    TY Carrie :) We work with them also the last few years we have had crack users and heroin/coke users helping with our community garden now building a small market garden with some troubled youngsters and local community progects to restore some trust between them.

    People in our community grow up with such things as cocaine and heroin in there faces every day. someone needs to take control of this mess our government wont.

    Id like to stick one of these at every drop of point in every community for the heroin/crack dealers so people know they are there and being watched.(from my msn blog)

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  • 150. At 11:30pm on 30 Oct 2009, rcblog wrote:

    In the case of "Nutt vs. Johnston", it is quite clear who the nut-case is ... Alan Johnston is exhibiting ill-logic, hysteria and contempt for science. He should be removed for the action he has taken to close down informed public debate. We see in America that President Obama has sent a signal to moderate the State's actions in regard to cannabis use (there they have to use the term "medical" as a prefix to get through the censor). What he gets is a reactionary response from certain forces opposed to this relaxation. This response by Johnston looks to be part of the same reaction programme. Cui bono? What Johnston and others of his ilk cannot tolerate is intelligence at work. He is simply one of a common breed of small minded tyrant 'leaders' within a sycophantic public sector culture playing the opportunistic power games of eunuchs (ref: the Last Emperor). More power to science and truth and facts. Nutt is being treated no differently than Galileo was by the Catholic church -- and Johnston is today's Cardinal Bellarmino! It is time we had a revolution in the way public policy is formed in so called democracies -- let's throw out "Flat Earth" thinking and use science. Maybe we'd start to solve some of these complex problems instead of just managing them! Bottom line: I'm 100% with Professor Nutt on his right to speak scientifically on both cannabis and ecstasy ... or anything else for that matter. Johnston's job is to listen and serve -- not attack the messenger and defend an obviously failed public policy programme based, in this case, on old American programmes to control cannabis production and the African American sub-culture. Sure, certain drugs can be dangerous in the wrong hands -- especially if power is involved -- just look at real nut cases like GWBush!

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  • 151. At 11:33pm on 30 Oct 2009, copperDolomite wrote:

    The joke here surely, is the Home Office rejecting evidence! Or is that the scandal?

    Can I ask what current government policy is on gravity?

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  • 152. At 11:35pm on 30 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    yup ther are quite a few im waiting on the responce as people read they will remember and visit in a few days this aint going away for quite some time now.

    so just remember bringbacknutt :D

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  • 153. At 11:44pm on 30 Oct 2009, weezer316 wrote:

    Professor Nutt's opinions are disturbing having heard them on Radio 4.

    Not being a scientist or a politician, my instinct as a parent told me that Professor Nutt was speaking more than he told about access to drugs in the UK. It's clear that Professor Nutt has NO idea that children in UK who buy cannabis from dealers are unaware that they the next victim for dealers who 'loss lead' for more expensive, more addictive and more lucrative class A drugs. Well done Alan Johnson!


    Utter nonsense. If there is any such thing as a "gateway" drug its tobacco or alcohol. And if you think that cannibis smuggling and the 14 years that can go with it is done as a loss leader then to be honest I think your high.

    Well done to Prof Nutt by the way. At least he has had the courage to say what most people already know, drug policy isnt based on facts, its based of mob mentality very ably demonstrated last week on question time.

    Unfortunately middle england know it alls decide who runs thsi country and we will be stuck the the even more ignorant tories soon (anne widdecombe 10 years ago on cannibis possession comes to mind) and then we will likely see even more stringent moves on drugs

    Either leaglize the lot or criminalize tobacco or alcohol

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  • 154. At 11:47pm on 30 Oct 2009, Euforiater wrote:

    146: "I have a biochemical educational background"
    - So are you going to own up to being very high up in a pharmaceutical company? I.e. a company with a huge financial interest in Cannabis remaining illegal.

    Professor Nutt is an INDEPENDENT scientist, picked to use his scientific skill to advise the government what to do. So if they ignore his advice he is right to comment. Of course you can be sure they will replace him with a trusted psychophant. But remember we only have the modern lives we lead because of following scientific principles, otherwise we'd be back in the dark ages that some countries are in now. You should know that better than anyone.

    Don't think you can win an argument like this with a wall of authoritarian conjecture, it's very simple. Cannabis is safer than alcohol and David Nutt is the most qualified to say so. It doesn't matter which is the more "social" drug, if it's safer it should be legalised.

    BTW regarding your snipe at the BBC. The BBC just report the facts. They are a great measure of where you are coming from. If you think they're right-wing, you're left-wing and vice-versa.

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  • 155. At 11:47pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    Moncur.... certain elements of your last post suggest you're a massive fan 1984 but seem to have entirely missed it's cautionary aspects.
    Government is here to govern? the fabric of society must be protected? We should lead entirely unenriched lives before becoming worm food?
    first of all, widespread cannabis use is categorically NOT a myth. you argue that drugs destroy the poorest sectors of society, but it's already illegal so i don't understand your point... if governments wanted to protect the impoverished then... oh wait ITS GOVERNMENTS WHO INSTIGATED THAT PROBLEM. ever heard of the native americans and codine? or the black ghettos and heroin? the US government in particularly have used drugs to specifically undermine certain parts of society and then they turn around and lament the horrible effects of drugs! sell it somewhere else mate.
    IF governments wanted to help the poor then there are far better ways, such as spending far more money on properly improving our educational or carework infrastructure.

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  • 156. At 11:48pm on 30 Oct 2009, Tillich wrote:

    Mo Mowlam wrote in the Guardian on 9th January 2003. “Let’s admit that we are getting it wrong, by allowing our fear and prejudice against certain drugs to drive us to pursue wrongheaded policies which only produce damaging social results.”(Better drugs laws will cut crime). But she only said this after she left Government. I wonder what Alan Johnson thinks privately – and whether he will feel any shame about his actions once he is no longer in Government. History will tell – a long history it is proving to be – but like prohibition in the last century the outcome is certain. It is a question of when we reach that sane place, not if. When will future generations entering this world be free to consume as they wish - free from the bullying of others? I look forward to that time.

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  • 157. At 11:50pm on 30 Oct 2009, MJ wrote:

    So, who is best qualified to talk about this subject?

    A professor of psychopharmacology and Head of Dept of Community Based Medicine at Bristol University, Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist for Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust and Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London?

    or a former postman?

    Hmmm. Let me think.

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  • 158. At 11:56pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    re my last post, i in no way seek to demean anyone involved in carework or education, that was a dig at government spending.
    i in fact deplore the frequently poor treatment of those involved in some of our most invaluable civil sectors.
    it makes the diabolical rendering of such an inocuous substance as cannabis, as an attempt to distract and confuse the public from the issues that really matter, all the more pathetic and desperate.

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  • 159. At 00:04am on 31 Oct 2009, PaulArkay wrote:

    Angry about Professor Nutt's sacking - YES. Surprised - NO
    UK Governments have a long and dishonourable history of ignoring the findings from thorough, reputable, reliable, evidence-based research when the findings clash with their own preferences and prejudices - that are often based on nothing more than thinking about the next Daily Mail headline. And when they haven't got the evidience they make it up, put it in a dossier, and invade Iraq. Today Professor Nutt is dismissed, last week the 7-year Cambridge review of primary education was dismissed, and so on.
    Having been involved in drugs education in schools, and familiar with the medical and scientific research, I know Professor Nutt is right about alcohol and cigarettes - both powerful, dangerous but legal drugs. If alcohol and nicotine didn't exist and were created today as new drugs, they would either be banned or classified as controlled drugs - equivalent at least to Class B, and possibly Class A. Certainly that's how student classify them when presented with the physiological and psychological effects of various but anonymised legal and illegal drugs
    They used to say truth was the first casualty of war. It also happens to be the first casualty of politics. Alan Johnson ought to be ashamed of himself, and I susopect he might not even agree with what he wrote. Oh how power corrupts!

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  • 160. At 00:10am on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    many have levelled fair criticism at the tories for not supporting Prof. Nutt. however, many have also indicated that most of the negative opinion comes from a uninformed but sadly very electorally important part of society.
    i can't presume anything although i hope that the tories are merely being cautious before the election season. it would seem to me though that looking at this blog and its comments, public opinion might swing against the traditional grain.
    i also think that tories might eventually hold true to there new and more liberal, friendly appeal. cameron has in the past been a bit cavalier regarding drugs and rising individuals such as Dan Hannan have said some encouraging things regarding its decriminalisation. who knows. they got off to the wrong start on this issue.

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  • 161. At 00:22am on 31 Oct 2009, omniadventure wrote:

    As the unelected leadership of the British people I am afraid the manner in which you have acted runs contrary to your responsibilities.

    We cannot have public confusion between fact-based policy and political preservation and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to advise us in any capacity.

    We would therefore ask you to step down from the Cabinet with immediate effect.

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  • 162. At 00:24am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    May not be the UK but this is the sort of thing we should be talking about is it not ?


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  • 163. At 00:32am on 31 Oct 2009, omniadventure wrote:

    Special Delivery: Postman Johnson (online so chance of delivery)

    Please sort out letters before arranging on paper for top scientist.

    Wish you were here

    The public

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  • 164. At 00:45am on 31 Oct 2009, BobRocket wrote:

    Can I just point out that Professor Nutt has not been sacked but has been asked to step down by Alan Johnson, in his response, Professor Nutt explains that he feels that he has done nothing wrong and that he has broken no rules, he does not offer his resignation.

    The ball is in Johnsons court, will he actually sack the professor, on what grounds could he sack him, surely there must be formal disciplinary action first otherwise the dismissal would be unfair.

    My advice to Professor Nutt would be to stand firm, say nothing and turn up for work on monday (and watch Johnson throw a blue fit :)

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  • 165. At 00:52am on 31 Oct 2009, tothepoint wrote:

    Speaking from personal experience, and I've experimented with various drugs, cannabis, ecstacy, lsd, cocaine etc... the one that did me the most harm was Cannabis. I've not taken any long term, but just recreational once in a while whenI was younger. Cannabis made me completely paranoid and dislocated from reality, I was convinced I was being followed by people and could easily have made me do something stupid. Anyone who argues against the reclassification should smoke some cannabis/skunk, and then make their comments. I very much doubt Mr Nutt or Mr Johnson have, and no matter how educated they may be, their is NO substitute for experience. If it were down to me, I would make them ALL Class A, I would ban tobacco too, which does more harm than most Class A drugs combined!!

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  • 166. At 00:56am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    a little late night thought.

    Bob Marley Burnin And Looting Tonight

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    enjoy the words.

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  • 167. At 00:57am on 31 Oct 2009, Gretakraten wrote:

    You must forgive those of us who have not been brought up in Great Britten from coming to the conclusion that you hired Monty Python troupe to write most of your domestic news for the past three decades, or more.

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  • 168. At 01:01am on 31 Oct 2009, stwl wrote:

    Some people keep talking here as though Prof. Nutt is an embodiment of the concept of "Science" (their capitals) and the politicians are an embodiment of superstition, intuition or similar. They also seem to think that it's nonsensical to replace him, because Science deals with "the facts" and the facts will remain the same, so any other competent Scientist brought in will say the same as he does.

    Regrettably, that's not how science works, although arguably it should. Rather, scientists formulate hypotheses and test them. They report the results of these tests, in addition to hypotheses that have not been proven yet but which they consider interesting or promising.

    In this case, the controversial views expressed by the professor cover both outcomes and hypotheses. The findings about the relative harm of drugs should be robust, in which case the Government has no business attempting to disclaim them.

    The Professor's views on the effectiveness of the drugs classification system, and in particular the effect on the public of reclassification, are much more conjectural. Notably, he appears to believe that promoting a drug to class A makes it more desirable for users, whereas the Government holds the opposite view. However, there is no evidence (as far as I'm aware) to favour either of these hypotheses above the other.

    The Government appears concerned that the publicity attached to the Professor's views on the classification system damages the credibility of its own position. For this reason, they are entitled to dismiss him from his advisory role, which I can't see as an affront to science. The affront to science would be if robust, replicable findings due to the Professor are also to be swept under the carpet for reasons of political expediency. If the Professor's replacement takes pains to distance himself or herself from the existing research, we're entitled to treat their contribution to the debate with suspicion, as it would suggest that the politicisation had then gone beyond the domain of opinion and into that of fact.

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  • 169. At 01:35am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Pimmes speaking from 'personal experience'

    You describe what a lot of people feel when they first try herb but as someone of 40 years with use on and off thought 25 of those years 5 of the last every day in place of antidepressants which are an unnatural psychotropic substance I believe that the paranoia and felling of being followed is the implanted effects of prohibition and threat of law once you realise someone is out to get you it goes away you are after all breaking the law so the natural flight or fight response will be in place ;/.

    The black and some of the good grade hash was far stronger than today's adulterated crops another reason for the rise in ill effects in the last few years with all sorts of powders fillers and other drugs being mixed with solids and sprayed to green before harvest are to blame in the rise of cancer reportedly associated with cannabis much like the rise in cancer causing agents in cocaine were I live the purity averages 2% what is the other 98%?

    just a few thoughts.

    Did i also say i think alcohol should be really expensive :)

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  • 170. At 01:37am on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    Pimmies Pie, drug experimentation like many things, especially drinking, is a very subjective experience, provoking different reponses depending on the consumer. I'd say it's neither a good thing or a bad thing that you found cannabis unpleasant, it simply means you should avoid it. I personally find it... well, pretty fantastic, and if asked i'd share my opinion on the matter but it bears little influence on the more objective principles surrounding the issue.
    stwl2006, it is true, one of the wonderful things about science is that it is progressive and full of discourse, leading to a diversity of opinions on certain issues. i think the adulation for prof. nutt is in part due to the fact that he is expressing views that many have long held, and to see him blackballed is shocking. but the review of cannabis that was ignored by brown and his cabinet was virtually unanimous in opinion. the government has repeatedly acted in this manner and i for one am fed up!

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  • 171. At 01:46am on 31 Oct 2009, Acmebetatest wrote:

    Moral compass? Government? An oxymoron if I ever heard one...

    ...Ms. Smith and Mr. Johnson both remind me of a certain animated penguin from a film I once saw, who screamed, " I don't want excuses - I want results!"

    ...although they seem to be as malevolent as another animated penguin, a beady-eyed chap who finished up in a milk bottle - if I were Professor Nutt, I would go buy some Wensleydale to have with your crackers and tea, to share with your family, at your new cottage in a safe place - say, Skardu, Pakistan - before the Home Secretary spins his Wheel of Morality to determine additional penalties against you...

    ...power - if Lord Acton was the Home Secretary today, it would be the only Class A drug.

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  • 172. At 01:50am on 31 Oct 2009, CannyCookie wrote:

    Petition to urging PM to reinstate Prof Nutt created. Awaiting authorisation...Lets see if the government wish to engage in democracy.

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  • 173. At 01:51am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    'so any other competent Scientist brought in will say the same as he does.'

    'lets re write this sorry stwl2006'

    so any other competent paid off Scientist brought in will say the same as Alan does.

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  • 174. At 01:59am on 31 Oct 2009, Davee57 wrote:

    As a Probation Officer I tend to subscribe to Mr Nutt's view. I have more to fear when working with alcoholics than cannabis smokers. But this government does not want to listen to us we're only on the front line and we see it day in day out. If they really wanted to do something about substance misuse (drugs&alcohol) in this country they would tackle poverty head on as the founding fathers of the Labour Party had intended. Instead I go to families where there are three generations living in misery, violence, squalor, with horrific partner and child abuse. Main cause ALCOHOL! Reason? Because this and previous governments have just dabbled with eradicating poverty and breaking that cycle whicht damages our children. Give me an offender who has been caught with a small amount of grass to one whose alcohol issues has destroyed himself, his family and the community around.

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  • 175. At 02:18am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    129. At 10:47pm on 30 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:
    you pulled me back in! Alas I will admit to having a chip on my shoulder from time to time regarding weight and health-care issues

    Sorry Rock I think that's my bad wording I was agreeing on the health issues wasn't a rebuke whilst also making a comparison on how this group makes up a larger proportion in society than cannabis users will have a far greater cost to society in the long run if you exclude the judicial systems need to persecute one minority group of society.

    If i walked up to a large person called them fat blablabla in front of people and the evidence was they were fat I could be done for harassment.

    If someone walked up and called me a social disease and the scum of the world because i use cannabis which again the evidence points to could i do them for harassment?

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  • 176. At 02:26am on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    community, there are some particular points in your last posts! regarding paranoia, i think that's spot on, much of what little anxiety i've experienced was founded in the fear of getting caught. but the ironic thing is that for the policemans this is mildy irritating because he has better things to do then file paperwork for something he and many law enforcement officers have expressed as an ineffective waste of time. i hope i'm not misquoting but i believe drug enforcement expense amounts to about 80million a year, and i certainly remember one welsh police chief giving wide criticism to this fact. that deficit could be reduced and heavily balanced by the legalisation and taxation of marijuana.

    and regarding the price of alcohol, you would have thought that drinkers would welcome the legalisation of weed! forgive my meagre understanding of economics but i thought adding competition to the list of legal recreational consumables would drive down the price of booze. that's a win-win-win folks. until mr. brown taxes them both into absurdity again.

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  • 177. At 02:36am on 31 Oct 2009, stevielc-x wrote:

    I think this is utterly disgraceful! Why do these MP's think they know better than the experts? And if they do think they know better why are these experts employed in the first place?
    I work with young people, some of which have very serious drug problems and I completely agree with this evidence; I've seen more young people messed up on alcohol than anything else! And cigarettes are just a given - all the young people (some not even old enough to legally buy cigarettes) I work with smoke cigarettes. I have seen first hand that alcohol and cigarettes are worse than "harder" drugs which young people may take occasionally.
    Why do we still have such prejudice people in charge of our country? Surely Britain should be run by people who will listen to current evidence rather than dismiss it because of a stigma which was attached to a certain drug "in their time".

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  • 178. At 02:38am on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    community, re post175, no worries^^ its good to be clear on the blogosphere as its easy to accidentally over-distill the argument or indeed cause offense! i see many a blog devolve into pointless partisan warfare.
    i entirely agree with your point, and i was quite surprised to discover that there is a lobby to include 'fatist' as a legal aspect of discrimination. i can only imagine the derision such a pursuit in the defence of smoking would receive. not to lower the tone of the argument but i think the south park episode "Butt Out" featuring Rob Reiner makes the point fairly amusingly!

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  • 179. At 02:41am on 31 Oct 2009, Soul News wrote:

    What has always caused confusion has been that it's always been clear that government advice on drugs wasn't based on science or facts, but on fears and keeping tabloid editors happy.

    That's the reason most young people have zero faith in the drugs classification system. Dismissing a scientist for clouding the system with facts seems to be a particularly bizare choice.

    Possibly this government would be more popular if it had stuck to it's principles and not spent so much time cow-towing to tabloid newspapers.

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  • 180. At 02:44am on 31 Oct 2009, Marty wrote:

    As someone who works on the ground in drugs education I have to add my voice to the screams of disgust at the way Prof Nutt has been treated. Alan Johnson has just torn up the guide to best practice in regards substance education and prevention. This is populist politicking that is going to backfire in a big way. Prof Nutt got sacked for doing his job- advising the government in an objective and scientific way. Unfortunately the truth in relation to drugs issues doesn't play too well with the minority who these populist politics seem designed to placate. Rather than provide effective factual information based within an affective education/ personal developement framework , which is proven world wide to be the best way to tackle substance misuse issues, Johnson and his predecessor Jacqui Smith treat the normal people of the UK as idiots. Every person I come into contact with through work who uses illegal substances is aware of the hypocritical nature of government policy. Alcohol and tobacco still continue to have a heavier impact on society, yet the government refuses to do anything more than tokenistic symbolic gestures- obviously due to the power these industries still exert. Johnson needs to do himself and the UK gvt a favour- stop pandering to the tabloids, listen to the likes of ourselves who work in the drug education field, grow some cojones and start dealing with drugs issues in a scientific and meaningful way- that is his job after all!

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  • 181. At 02:48am on 31 Oct 2009, oldnat wrote:

    177. stevielc-x
    "all the young people (some not even old enough to legally buy cigarettes) I work with smoke cigarettes."

    Not sure I understand this. In Scotland "young people" (those under 18) can't legally buy cigarettes. Is this different elsewhere?

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  • 182. At 02:50am on 31 Oct 2009, blimeynotagain wrote:

    136: glomal111, you have summed it up. Thank goodness our MPs have been caught out by the FOI Act that they themselves passed. Given what we now know, no wonder so many of them were in favour of FOI exemption for MPs.

    "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government" - Edward Abbey. Abbey said some silly things, but he also said some sensible things. This is one of the latter.

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  • 183. At 02:58am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    The problem has and always will be with drugs
    people like to get smashed our most common drug proves this
    if you make drugs illegal you raise the price so as we see now all those with knowlage of chemistry dream up new ways to seduce us at cheaper and cheaper prices with more and more unconventional ingredients cant ban lithium batteries on of the ingredients of crystal meths.
    When natures alternatives to these drugs are out of the hands of the poor and only available to those with lots of spare money like the way cannabis is moving in price now we will be faced with a barrage of cheap highly addictive substances that will devastate the current populous of the time.

    In the next 10- 15 years we could be looking at with current technology progression genetic triggering for addictions to substances as well as cures we really do have to face the times we live in we do after all say the future of medicine's is in the stem cell. Reduce need for slow addiction if the user can be turned on within hours of first taking a drug?

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  • 184. At 03:07am on 31 Oct 2009, downsi wrote:

    Can't say that I'm surprised. It seems that Labour are trying to strengthen their weak image by sacking Proffessor Nutt. The truth could be, that the Government has shown their weakness, not in terms of strength, but in decision making.
    To retort on an earlier comment, to the person whose lung collapsed from two decades of smoking- isn't it the case that a smoker of cigarettes, a legal drug, could have caused the same health problems?
    We might as well not have experts if they are sacked for speaking their mind. Frankly we all understand the reaction from many that this was a poor decision- party pride cannot get in the way of policy making. Eerily similar to just how detatched ministers might be getting, echoes of ignorance such as in the expenses issue a few months ago.
    Common sense should dictate these issues, not politics.

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  • 185. At 03:09am on 31 Oct 2009, Bobby M's Barmy Army wrote:

    How many people have died from Cannabis use ?
    How many people have died from Alcohol use ?

    The government are so dosile they dont even see they could make a profit on legalising Cannabis and taxing it but no they would rather spend money on the NHS system so alcoholics and abuse it on a friday and saturday night with there drunken madness but hey i don't know nothing if Mr.Nutt is getting sacked for doing his job.

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  • 186. At 03:18am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    My last thought for the night
    Canute the politician
    "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey".

    So spoke King Canute the Great, the legend says, seated on his throne on the seashore, waves lapping round his feet. Canute had learned that his flattering courtiers claimed he was "So great, he could command the tides of the sea to go back". Now Canute was not only a religious man, but also a clever politician. He knew his limitations - even if his courtiers did not - so he had his throne carried to the seashore and sat on it as the tide came in, commanding the waves to advance no further. When they didn't, he had made his point that, though the deeds of kings might appear 'great' in the minds of men, they were as nothing in the face of God's power.

    sound familier LOL

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  • 187. At 03:35am on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    Community, a very scary and realistic possibility, i hadnt considered the immense amount of research and development the pharmaceutical company indulges in, not to mention of course their moral.. flexibility.
    i get so angry when considering the incredible and essentially untapped potential of the cannabis plant. obviously grown a certain way one can harvest a delightful herb, but industrially grown cannabis plants ie those which produce industrial hemp are all too scarce. hemp is so diverse as a trade good; i mentioned earlier the Hearst issue, if it weren't for him hemp would likely be our primary paper source. disregarding its other applications the environmental benefits alone are vast.
    its criminalisation is totally backwards.. essentially the origin of its controversy is the selfish desire to eliminate its indisputedly beneficial offerings, combined with a dash of an easily frightened conservative mindset belonging to an era that tolerated racism, sexim and homophobia.
    i do not in any way consider marijuana rights to be even remotely close to the severe nature of these issues, but the fact remains it being illegal is nothing more then an unpleasant lingering headache from an civilly unpleasant time.

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  • 188. At 05:03am on 31 Oct 2009, imcensord wrote:

    Horses are extremely dangerous. A friend, who is an experienced horserider, recently had a horse fall on her in the US and her insurance company ended up with a 50000 euro bill... also, even mildly drunken evenings in my experience seem to me far more risky than any ecstasy, mushrooms, lsd, or cannabis experience i have had.

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  • 189. At 05:56am on 31 Oct 2009, fony1204 wrote:

    As a scientist, and as an experienced user of drugs, this story has really touched a nerve. I don't want a closed-minded government who won't listen to the truth.

    Responsible use coupled with experience and knowledge leads you on a fulfilling and beautiful endeavor. Our ancastors used 'drugs' - it is such a shame that what was once a large part of our culture has been stigmatised and the ancient knowledge lost to scare-tactics and hysteria.

    I don't use cannabis much but my parents do, as do many of my friends and all I can say is: I can tell what is more harmful to both the user and society between:

    a) a relaxed, night in with the girlfriend/close friends and a few joints - music, maybe a dvd. Generally have a chilled-out time.

    b) getting raving drunk on a saturday night, going out in the freezing cold, spending far too much money, getting in a fight/arrested/causing damage to property only to come home and throw up everywhere. Not to mention the hangover.

    Woops! There goes my vote!

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  • 190. At 06:03am on 31 Oct 2009, NETCRUSHER wrote:

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

  • 191. At 06:05am on 31 Oct 2009, losticini wrote:

    Dear Galileo,

    In previous correspondence with you, the Vatican has highlighted the value that we place on having an astrologer advise us. Heaven knows (and that’s the point, isn’t it?) we need all the help that we can get.

    I believe it is important that we continue to receive such advice from you and your fellow alchemists, because the lower classes really lap it up when you produce your diagrams and charts with those funny squiggly pictures – not sure exactly what they are, but it gets the plebs’ attention and that’s the main thing.

    However, I have concerns over your recent comments that have received so much coverage in the pamphlets. It is important that I can be confident that the advice from the business end of your telescope thingy will be about matters of evidence.

    Your recent comments have gone beyond such evidence and you have been lobbying for a change in the divine policy that the sun revolves around the Earth. This goes against general standards of servile obedience and submission to my infallibility. Seeing as no-one else but the Vatican has a handle on the laws of nature, you cannot help but implicate us in your comments and are therefore in serious danger of reducing my power base.

    When you wrote previously about this ridiculous “orbit” idea, I made it clear that it is not the job of some jumped-up little natural philosopher to start tongues wagging about the real nature of things, because that sort of nonsense has no place in religion. Given that, I was surprised and disappointed when you started rolling weights down slopes and generally buggering about with divine laws.

    As Pope, it is for me to make decisions, having received advice from the Almighty. It is vitally important that the public understand who has the last say and that they don’t get any dangerous ideas that contravene scripture.

    It is important that the Church’s messages on the movement of the spheres is clear and that as an advisor you do nothing that could (1) get people thinking and (2) my circumstances seriously reduced. No-one likes the idea of burning at the stake, do they, my friend?

    I had hoped you would be my lead fixer with regards to spinning how the planets move (no pun intended), but it is clear you have no idea about how these things work.

    I cannot have public confusion between what I want the masses to think and what might be true. That’s not the point at all, and I am very disappointed in you. I hope no clumsy official bumps into that expensive telescope because they are stumbling about, all confused and upset by what you have said. Oh dear, what a calamity that would be!

    However, I am sure you will do the right thing.


    His Holiness, Pope Urban VIII

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  • 192. At 07:43am on 31 Oct 2009, traducer wrote:

    Recommend Post 167.

    We are English, not Dutch, Spansh, Swiss or Portugese. Unfortunately due to excess cash and a high populaton density with limited recreaton educaton (yes you read that right) and recreation facilites, we binge. The lack of family cohesion )compared to other countries) means we Very binge.
    The current problem is not puff, beer, charlie or skag it is the MiX.

    The 14 year olds in the dark kids playgrounds are no longer into a can of stella and 2 tokes of afghan black. 3 cans of special brew, 4 J¨s of skunk and half a line of coke is difficult to handle at 14. or 16. or 18.

    Debate, sensible debate on this is welcomed. Prof Nutt KNEW he would be fired, that is why he spoke as he did. He was angry. He does not have the full picture. Johnson had no choice.

    Havng said that, repealng the law was stupid. it has just engendered cynisism for authority in a whole generation - and across generations.
    Ms Smith and Mr Johnson truly have reefer madness. Their social engineerng principles are deeply flawed. They have antagonised and stoked a debate they wanted to supress. Do they have degrees????

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  • 193. At 08:03am on 31 Oct 2009, BobJ wrote:

    So Prof Nutt tells the world and his dog that there is nothing wrong in taking an illegal substance (the classification is immaterial).

    Last night I went down to my local off licence and asked for a couple of ounces of this Cannabis stuff and was told that I could only get it from someone called a "Dealer". OK well that's ok isn't it? Where do I find this dealer chappy? Apparently if I ask around the St Mary's area I can find one.

    I went there and asked and eventually a rather emmaciated, spotty young lady offered me something other than this innocent cannabis stuff. I offered her a couple of pounds to tell me where I could get cannabis.

    I got a telephone number - success - I phoned the number and a monosyllabic voice asked where I got the number. I explained and was told to drive to a back street where I had to phone again. Well I thought I had gone this far I might as well continue.

    Half an hour later, parked in an area where there was scant little light and some rather less than pleasant folks looking at me sat there, this dealer chappy's rather expensive looking four by four pulled up with some nasty looking chaps inside. I can tell you I was rather worried.

    They sat there and did nothing, so I got out of my car and approached. A rather large looking chap asked me if I wanted just grass or if I wanted white, brown or ice.

    As an innocent in these things I didn't know - "give me one of each" I told him - his response was to ask for 75 notes. "Gosh" I said, and told him at those prices I might have to report him.

    Well that was the last thing I remember until I woke two weeks later. Apparently I fell over and fractured my skull.

    Not entirely true, but if you want to buy illegal drugs, even if it is cannabis, you deal with the dregs of society who profit from the users inadequacy. They don't just deal in cannabis, they deal in meth amphetamine, cocaine and heroin cut with anything to make a gram inyo five grams.

    So is cannabis an innocent drug. Yes, if it is medically supplied, but otherwise it is a stepping stone to addiction to the other substances that will give the user a bigger high than cannabis. The supply of unregulated cannabis is via the criminal classes who hope to profit from their activities. The greater profit is in the class A drugs they supply, so lets not believe they are not going to push the cannabis user towards those drugs via stronger and stronger adulterated cannabis and the pain you as a parent then have of having a drug addicted child.

    Ptofessor Nutt, you live in an ivory tower and obviously don't have the experience of the folks who have suffered the pain of drug addiction within the family. As such you comments have no value and in fact have caused more pain.

    Sacked, you should be more than sacked, you should have to suffer the misery of addiction either personally or within your family. Then tell the general public that cannabis is not bad. It is - it is the first step on the drugs ladder. I know, this has happened to a close family of mine, I have seen the pain and misery caused.

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  • 194. At 08:05am on 31 Oct 2009, Jane Lewis wrote:

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  • 195. At 08:22am on 31 Oct 2009, TheBorgCollective wrote:

    I've been smoking Cannabis since my late teens and must admit that if I had started at a younger age this paranoia that people say would effect me would have been true, only for the fact that an undeveloped mind is easily moulded. Correct me if I'm wrong but my understanding of the history of Cannabis ( Hemp ) was classified back in the 1920's by the medical society ( aided by the American Government ) because it was difficult for scientists to reproduce the chemical compound and structure of the plant.. Knowing that the bud itself held many medical uses and that the by product of the plant could be used for clothing, paper,rope and many other. During this depressive time along with Alcohol and Cocaine it was pushed underground black marketed by the populous and was then just another item that was tabooed by the US Government.... Back to here and now It's all down to how much the government can make as it was then it's difficult to gain anything from a naturally grown plant.

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  • 196. At 08:38am on 31 Oct 2009, yellowsandydog wrote:

    I am really scared by the deep seated acceptance of drug taking among a lot of the posters on here. As someone who works in a hospital I see a lot of the effects of drug addiction and it seems sad that anyone needs drugs or alcohol in order to relax.
    I support the government approach to Professor Nutt, not on the classification of cannabis, but because of the much publicised unscientific remarks he has made, such as likening illegal drug use to horse riding or the MMR vaccine.
    On the subject of cannabis classification I would like more information in the press, such as whether the change to Class B has made any difference to sentences received or to cannabis use and also more detail about how the drugs are classified. I understand that the change in classification was due to increasing evidence of the role cannabis played in schizophrenia.
    I am not convinced by the Professor's claim that LSD and ecstacy are less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Alcohol certainly needs to be more strictly controlled than it is, while I think the national laws on tobacco smoking are at about the right level. Tobacco has serious long term physical health effects but I have never seen any evidence of links to personality change or pschotic behaviour.

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  • 197. At 08:39am on 31 Oct 2009, TheBorgCollective wrote:

    No.193 addiction good or bad really depends on how the addict copes with it... from taking a drug to watching the X factor.We all have our weaknesses what's yours..?

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  • 198. At 08:39am on 31 Oct 2009, sbsj21 wrote:

    Firstly the prof has to realise that he is dealing with the people who get the most out of skimming the money off drugs.

    1. The government.......Taxes from Alcohol & Tobacco raise a massive amount so any suggestion that they are "dangerous drugs" causes palpitations.

    2. The police....if not for showing on a regular basis how they smashed in the door at 4am to send in 20 stormtroopers who then come out with some poor sod who has a couple of small bags of cannabis...they would appear to nothing at all and we might then question where all the money is spent! And the TV channels would lose some free reality TV

    Remember some of these MP's were actaully claiming their drug (alcohol) on expenses.


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  • 199. At 08:42am on 31 Oct 2009, elfrieda wrote:

    Its about time alcohol was on the A list , like every other drug in moderation ok , but used to excess its dangerous not just to the user but to others , if you looked at what caused more deaths than heroin etc to other than the user , ie violence in the streets road traffic accidents . abuse of spouse and children , its not a pretty picture , but still its on sale very cheaply , I am not saying ban it just drawing a comparison . as for our Government Election as soon as possible please .

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  • 200. At 08:59am on 31 Oct 2009, Madbrit wrote:

    The sacking of professor Nutt is one more example of this government's arrogance: They have panels of scientists & experts covering many fields, yet if the advice doesn't fir their agenda, or political need, then it is ignored.
    I'd much rather take the advice of a scientist than ANY politician.

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  • 201. At 09:01am on 31 Oct 2009, ProPolicyGeek wrote:

    Sadly Prof Nutt has misunderstood his role and as a result overstepped the mark: quite simply he had to go.

    There is great merit in his rational scale of drug harm. However the incorporation into the scale of harm to society will inevitably lead to a massive distortion and increase in the ranking of legal drugs such as nicotine and alcohol: it quite simply is horrendously flawed not to normalise by prevalence (the number of users). There is a strong policy argument that only his other two criteria (harm to individual and addictiveness) should be considered in grading of drugs by prohibition, and that harm to society (which naturally includes the harm to individuals and addictiveness) should only be considered when considering how to regulate a substance or activity, whether a drug should be banned.

    This is the key point: drug policy is not just about the science. While science is an important part, is is not the only part, nor arguably the most important. Just as important are the economics, sociological impact, political pragmatism, health and safety and the simple reality of unintended consequences.

    However one serious question of capabilities: I found it quite simply gobsmacking that he was unable to answer a simple question of science put to him by Peter Alan on BBC Radio 5: is alcohol more harmful to the average use or LSD? Surely a scientific expert should be able to answer that simply, correctly and quickly?

    The sad thing is that the message that Prof Nutt is unintentionally giving out is that drugs should not be illegal. When you read in detail what he is saying this is not the case.

    Scientific advisors to government are most effective working behind the scenes giving simple indisputable SCIENTIFIC advice based on fact. Sadly quite a few professors enjoy grandstanding and being the centre or attention and do not understand their limitations when it comes to policy analysis. Hopefully Prof Nutt will not do too much damage...

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  • 202. At 09:02am on 31 Oct 2009, Tillich wrote:

    The debate is not really one only about whether drugs are good or bad for you – in general they are usually bad (including the alcohol that I drink), but whether society should dictate what an individual does to themselves if there are no consequences to others. I believe it is unwise to take drugs, but I will fight for the legal right for those who wish to do so, to do so. The law needs to intervene at the stage any consequence adversely impacts on others – not try to avert possible harm to innocent people though the completely ineffective control of supply – which ironically is certainly causing deep harm through crime and criminal drug gangs and the absolute lack of any control on the quality of drugs.

    This is a global issue and therefore very hard to untangle. We therefore need very clear logical thinking and free debate. And it is perhaps this current lack of free debate that is the first barrier to a sane policy.

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  • 203. At 09:11am on 31 Oct 2009, loinerforver wrote:

    they asked his advice he did not agree with his master's so they sack him what next you go to the tower or worse they shoot you the goverment should be taken to task on this

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  • 204. At 09:13am on 31 Oct 2009, sbsj21 wrote:

    Re: 201

    "I found it quite simply gobsmacking that he was unable to answer a simple question of science put to him by Peter Alan on BBC Radio 5: is alcohol more harmful to the average use or LSD? Surely a scientific expert should be able to answer that simply, correctly and quickly?"

    A non scientist ,fr instance a politician, could give you an immediate answer for what it's worth.
    However a scientist would not unless he had tested, researched and had data to provide an answer.

    THAT is the whole crux of the wants results and policy based on evidence, the other based on instant popularity!


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  • 205. At 09:15am on 31 Oct 2009, Albert Harris wrote:

    Actually, banning cannabis is absurd. The government can ban a weed and classify it all it wants, but those who want to smoke or imbibe it in other ways will. The public should be educated about the effects of mixing the herb with tobacco. Good on Prof Nutt for coming out and stating the scientific realities of this medicinal weed in the face of political spin. Unfortunately, I and many others will have to buy on the black and can face up to 5-years in prison for using the herb to relieve the effects of arthritis.

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  • 206. At 09:15am on 31 Oct 2009, Steve wrote:

    Another hide the truth Government issue. So it’s ok for our scientists to comment on Global Warming but not on Drugs. Mind you Global Warming and the motorist issue make allot of money for the Government.
    I think it’s ironic that the Government can sack those who speak against their policies but we can’t sack them if we don’t like what they say or do. One law for them one law for us comes to mind.
    I think Professor Nutt should take the Government to task for unfair dismissal, make them pay. If Professor Nutt’s facts and figures are correct then the Government haven’t got a leg to stand on.
    We can’t pick and chose what we want to hear from our Scientists, everything they say is of interest and should be seriously dealt with by our Government Ministers.
    Avoiding the facts, because it doesn’t suit your policies at the time is not the correct way to look after the general health of the public at large.

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  • 207. At 09:19am on 31 Oct 2009, SimonHarpham wrote:

    "It is important that the government's messages on drugs are clear and as an advisor you do nothing to undermine public understanding of them."

    The government's messages on drugs are already quite clear; they believe "drurgs are baaad" but seem unable to say why in a coherent fashion. If the government's messages on drugs are incoherent then the government's own advisory body - being a scientific body - is quite likely to undermine public understanding of such incoherent messages and supplant them with views based on actual understanding of drugs rather than an emotional reaction to those drugs (such as that expressed by Dibberslan above).

    Alan Johnson's letter makes it quite clear he is a complete fool. On the one hand he insists that advice from the ACMD be about matters of evidence and yet when Professor Nutt provides evidence (in, for example, his recent comments concerning the actual harm likely to accrue from taking cannabis) the Minister insists he remain silent. Contrary to Alan Johnson's belief (and in line with Professor Nutt's statements concerning the government's luddite approach to science) scientific evidence is entirely likely to initiate public debate. Such public debate is not, nor should be, controlled by government because the governemnt is the servant of the people, and therfore if we wish to debate a matter in public the government should have the good sense to shut up and listen. If they are unable to do this then they are clearly no longer the people's representatives and are therefore unfit to govern.

    Although (having been occasionally out of work myself) I do not wish for any members of the Advisory Council to lose their jobs I sincerely hope the entire Advisory Council resign in protest at the actions of a Minister who has clearly overstepped the bounds of his Office, not to mention the bounds of common sense, and the bounds of reason.

    If there is any public confusion between scientific advice and policy it is quite clear to me that this has resulted from this and previous governments' policies rather than the evidence-based research the ACMD has and continues to undertake and I have therefore lost confidence in the Minister's ability to advise on matters of government policy.

    I therefore ask him to resign his Ministerial post with immediate effect.

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  • 208. At 09:23am on 31 Oct 2009, Cullipool wrote:

    A civil servant once told me, when I'd given uncomfortable evidence-based advice to a previous government, that there is no such thing as a policy error. Times don't seem to have changed.

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  • 209. At 09:24am on 31 Oct 2009, secretpingu55 wrote:

    My father has worked tirelessly for years to advise and change peoples views on cannabis. He retired in 200 as head of Interpol and was sent a letter of congratulations for all his work at Interpol but not given the Knighthood he deserved because Michael Howard did not agree with his recommendations. My father still works to try and improve issues and i don't see why he was not given his knighthood because he was brave enough with other senior members of the police force and government tosay Cannabis should be reclassified.

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  • 210. At 09:27am on 31 Oct 2009, clickem wrote:

    The ex-postie shot the messenger. Well, only a few more months till it's the Tory's turn with the jester's cap and bells.

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  • 211. At 09:32am on 31 Oct 2009, David Burton wrote:

    Prof. Nutt has my full support in this. Not only is he representing the scientific evidence, but he is highlighting where this disagrees with government policy, as I would expect the 'independent scientific advisors' to the government to do.
    Alan Johnson, by contrast, has seriously undermined the independence of the body by making a politically-motivated demand for a resignation. He is interfering with the ability of the government to get high-quality advice. He is also attempting to neuter the highest-regarded scientific opinion by effectively stating that these scientific advisors are not allowed to voice their interpretation of how the evidence could be applied.
    As far as I am concerned, Prof. Nutt has only voiced a perfectly logical opinion that a law stated to be aimed at harm reduction should classify substances based on levels of harm, while Johnson has interfered with the adequate running of the governments advisory groups, so Nutt should be reinstated, while Johnson instead should be forced to resign.
    Furthermore, the Tories should also consider why they are supporting this interference and supporting ignoring the evidence, while the Lib Dems should be lauded for attacking this action.

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  • 212. At 09:37am on 31 Oct 2009, Brian Jeffrey wrote:

    The Home Secretary is perfectly correct. The advice from the ACMD is just that ADVICE. It serves only to inform the process of decision making it's purpose is not to make the decision itself. I do not doubt that advice from such eminent authorities should carry considerable weight but the Home Secretary will have numerous other sources of adevice to which he must also have due regard. Some of that advice will be political, some scientific, some sociological perhaps even some personal or anecdotal. The bottom line however is that it is a decision for him to take.
    Prof Nutt should be aware that whilst he is entitled to be disappointed that his advice has not been acted upon his only proper response, whilst remaining in position, is to make further representation to the Home Secretary. If, in professional terms he feels that his position has been sufficiently undermined then he should resign and thereafter go as public as he thinks appropriate.
    Personally I am of the view that the decision to reclassify cannabis is correct because notwithstanding the reported scientific advice in relation to the physical and psychological harm it causes relative to other drugs in any particular classification I know from my own professional experience that it is a gateway drug. It is one of the recreational drugs which impressionable young adults and children experiment with and whilst not all go on to harder drugs, many do. I would suggest, anecdotally that most class A drug addicts started off experimenting with cannabis and the like. I do not suggest we could eradicate class A drug addiction by clamping down on Cannabis but I do believe that such a tactic would have a positive impact on the numbers involved and could thereby reduce the potential harm both to the individuals involved and society as a whole. Whether it was their intention or not I believe that by downgrading the classification the previous administration sent out the message that whilst it was still technically illegal it was a trivial matter with little consequence almost tantamount to sanctioning it's use. Such an approach clearly had no regard for the potential knock on effects of the gateway aspect of it's misuse by a generation of impressionable youngsters who if not actually encouraged to experiment it were certainly not being actively or effectively discouraged.

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  • 213. At 09:40am on 31 Oct 2009, PickmansModel wrote:

    201. ProPolicyGeek wrote:

    "I found it quite simply gobsmacking that he was unable to answer a simple question of science put to him by Peter Alan on BBC Radio 5: is alcohol more harmful to the average use or LSD? Surely a scientific expert should be able to answer that simply, correctly and quickly?"

    Overall a confused post showing the lack of understanding of science that bedevils this country.

    You can't give a yes or no answer since for the 'average' user of either there will probably be no discernible harmful effects (depending on how we define average, of course, so there's the first point of difficulty).

    The details of prevalence of use are actually essential in understanding this. Almost everyone drinks alcohol at some point. Far fewer take LSD. So the evidence base and, to a very considerable extent, the statistical validity of any inferences drawn, are different to start with.

    Then there's the fact that you can carry out controlled studies on alcohol because it's legal but you can't on LSD so scientists are stuck with using recreational users self-reporting likely dosages and frequency.

    Given this - which should be obvious to anyone who thinks about the question even briefly - giving an immediate answer stating that one or the other substance is more/less harmful would be irresponsible. That's why David Nutt and his team went off and did proper research on their subject rather than just giving the sort of knee-jerk bloke-in-the-pub response that ProPolicyGeek would have found more credible.

    Naturally, anyone siding with Alan Johnson would claim that this sort of objective scientific view of something is tantamount to a drug-dealers charter.

    As others have mentioned, who do you trust on this issue? An eminent scientist with years of experience in this specific topic or an ex-postman catapulted into a position that is evidently far beyond his abilities.

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  • 214. At 09:43am on 31 Oct 2009, jillyforeigner wrote:

    I am afraid that nothing about this sorry affair should give surprise. It is rare when anyone asking for advice is asking with an unbiased mind and then wanting a honest but contradictory answer. We can see evidence of this in many areas from politics to finance and onwards. Once Prof Nutt had made his benign points it was only a matter of time before he was relieved of his role. What was for me more depressing was that the shadow home secretary revealed that he is also lacking a spine in criticizing the professor.Well done to the liberals.

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  • 215. At 09:45am on 31 Oct 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    The government have utterly failed the populace when it comes to the administration of the Misuse of Drugs Act - allowing the prejudice of some potential voters to distort a medical issue, severely misrepresenting the science and then sacking a hard working, respected, unpaid advisor when he dares to tell the truth.

    I have no faith in the ability of Alan Johnson to base policy on empirical evidence - his behaviour, and the behaviour of his predecessor, has been disingenuous in the extreme.

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  • 216. At 09:47am on 31 Oct 2009, Euforiater wrote:

    191 - Superb! Don't let anyone tell you that satire is dead.

    193 - "The greater profit is in the class A drugs they supply, so lets not believe they are not going to push the cannabis user towards those drugs via stronger and stronger adulterated cannabis and the pain you as a parent then have of having a drug addicted child."
    - Another major reason why cannabis should be legalised. No dealer, no "gateway". Those who read the other blogs will know I favour ending prohibition generally - convincing reasons are given by many people in those blogs so I'm not going to repeat them here - but if you want something that on its own will cut drug crime hugely, then legalising cannabis is the way.
    BTW prepare for the forthcoming government-and-tabloid character assassination of Professor Nutt.

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  • 217. At 09:47am on 31 Oct 2009, nhsfoster wrote:

    I realy sympathise with Professor Nutt over this. I work within mental health with the NHS and i agree that particularly in Brtiain; alcohol and smoking are far bigger problems to both physical and mental health.

    politicians deal with politics, they are not medically trained even though some of them think that way. They appoint advisors in numerous different specialties for this reason.

    We are always told to practice evidence based medicine because it is based on more than a simple hunch. For Professor Nutt who has been in his post for over a decade, one of the leaders in his field and with a wealth of international research to be told his findings are no longer valued is simple lunacy. People who are the top of their fields are there for a reason, they are respected by their piers. For a politician to say he doesn't value professors Nutts advice says more about Gordon Browns leadership than anything else.

    This is just one of the many incidents that have meant Gordon Brown is no longer respected by the public or even his own party.

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  • 218. At 09:52am on 31 Oct 2009, camshanks wrote:

    I must echo PurpleGiddyGirl just in case people have forgotten as this is VITAL:

    This is not just a problem with Labour. PLEASE don't overlook the Conservatives' response. Chris Grayling has spoken out in support of the sacking.

    There is so much rightful hatred for Labour, but it's not going to change under the Conservatives. Time to disregard the LabCon Party.

    There's something seriously wrong going on in British Politics.

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  • 219. At 10:01am on 31 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Euforiater #216.

    "BTW prepare for the forthcoming government-and-tabloid character assassination of Professor Nutt."

    do you think we'll see another 'Dr David Kelly'??

    camshanks #218.

    "This is not just a problem with Labour. PLEASE don't overlook the Conservatives' response."

    there's no real difference between the major parties, they're all part of the same corrupt establishment.

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  • 220. At 10:03am on 31 Oct 2009, TonyGo2 wrote:

    What percentage of our members of parliament, or the government, have even a basic scientific qualification (BSc or equivalent)? I am feed up with with decisions being made just because they are "the right thing to do".

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  • 221. At 10:04am on 31 Oct 2009, austin_r wrote:

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  • 222. At 10:04am on 31 Oct 2009, spoon03 wrote:

    So,Prof Nutt gets the sack for basically doing his job & not being a yes man. Surprise suprise. I feel all this talk is a total waste of time & we're all going round in circles,saying the same things over & over again. The Government are not interested in 'truth' or 'facts' unless it suits them. Fact. I also know as a fact that cannabis bought(illegaly) in this country is full of junk(god knows what),whereas cannabis bought(legally) in 'coffee shops' in Amsterdam is not. It would be the same if alcohol was banned, with moonshine stills popping up all over the place full of anti-freeze etc. Why do i feel much safer walking around Amsterdam all night,(stoned),than any British town/city (stoned or not)? Why can't people put 2&2 together? If this stuff is so dangerous,why is it legal in Amsterdam? Why hasn't Dutch society fallen apart? Why am i bothering with this blog when i'm starving & want to go to Tesco's for breakfast? I watched Last King of Scotland recently. One of Idi Amin's wives got pregnant by another man & tried to get an abortion. He chopped off her arms & legs to 'send out a message'. Ring any bells?.............

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  • 223. At 10:05am on 31 Oct 2009, david F wrote:

    David Nutt is absolutely 100% correct, despite the meanderings of well-meaning GP's who still prescribe dangerous prescription drugs and ones which have serious toxic side - effects.
    Formerly Vioxx and latterly Celebrex is prescribed freely for people with rhumetoid artheritis and other complaints such as limb injuries (post-operative) where pain management is seriously improved by cannabis and other 'natural' drugs.
    What the public do not know and what politicians have yet to admit, is that it is drug companies such as Roche and GSK who perpetuate the myth that soft drugs, whether for recreational use or not areless harmful than either Cigarettes and to a lesser extent tobacco, and more so excess alcohol abuse. If anyone cared to calculate the overall cost to the NHS over the next 25 years in better health, and the drugs bill would be reduced by at least 20% saving for non-prescribing of toxic drugs. Instead to decriminalize cannabis and tax it would be far better in small quntities. Why dont we give it a try? Small smoking non-alcohol cafes, serving coffee and healthy drinksi in each town or city is far more beneficial to a 'friendly, non-violent drunken society. I estimate there are at least 6million users already.
    If people already have a condition such as epilepsy or any other complaint which would render this unsuitable then with the new online NHS computer up and running it should not be too difficult to track people who are not suited to such a drug.
    With E's as people call them, if they were manufactured by drugs companies and licensed and tested, taxed at the point of sale, then why not allow people to change or choose for recreational use.
    Surely then our police resources could be far better utilized to stop the crime wave, arson attacks and terrorism.
    Alan Johnson would be better served by resigning and sorting out the post office dispute for which the CWU require a man of knowledge to deal with heavy handed top management who frankly are destroying our oldest public service and making most of us wish Gordon Brown and his henchmen would call an immediate election.
    As for Mr Johnson's predecessorI doubt she has any credibility whatsoever, and she was only a well-meaning amateur.
    As a PS tere is scietific proof that celebrex, a very effective pain reliever exacerbates high blood pressure and induces heart problems - ask Dr Nutt.

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  • 224. At 10:07am on 31 Oct 2009, austin_r wrote:

    Professor Nutt did not say that there is 'nothing wrong in taking an illegal substance', he said that the evidence regarding the risks of cannabis use have been distorted and that more harm is caused to people through horse riding than ecstacy use. If, as a scientist he has found these points to be true then I personally have no issue with him raising them.
    I've read a few comments above from people claiming he has sent out the wrong 'message'. This is an issue that is not going to go away, the only chance we have of making the world our children grow up in a safer place is through education and honest debate.
    Talk of 'sending out messages' as a substitute for this is both naive and dangerous.

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  • 225. At 10:14am on 31 Oct 2009, Mathna wrote:

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  • 226. At 10:24am on 31 Oct 2009, Mathna wrote:

    The ignorance and pomposity of politicians never ceases to amaze me. Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson have no training in or experience of medicine and specifically addiction issues. They are essentially amateurs who owe their position to political patronage.
    They therefore employ experts to give informed opinion. Mr Nutt raised some interesting and thought provoking ideas on drug use and the associated risks.
    However Johnson took exception to this because it runs contrary to his view and sacked him. Johnson is a former Postman and leader of the UCW. May I suggest he uses he experience to solve the post strike rather than meddling in matters he knows nothing about.

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  • 227. At 10:26am on 31 Oct 2009, newtactic wrote:

    Professor Nutt belongs to an elite academic circle, which, in my opinion, is out of touch with reality. Hopefully the Government represents the population as a whole, many of whom, do not smoke, drink alcohol or afford illicit drugs. Whilst we should all be aware of the comparative dangers of taking these things, was it appropriate for an academic in Government pay to suggest there may be no more danger in taking 'Ecstasy' than riding a horse? Families with children who ride horses regularly, need to have a good enough income to afford it. It is therefore unlikely to be taken up by the majority of the population. A child listening to a radio report of this, with no experience of horse riding, might think there is no danger in taking 'Ecstasy'. This was a misguided statement which is now in the public domain. When so much effort and resources are geared to steering primary school children away from taking and doing anything which might be detrimental to their health and future hopes, was it really responsible of Professor Nutt to make this remark? Was it so bad for the Government to sack him for this and other remarks, which could mislead so many people, particularly young people?

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  • 228. At 10:31am on 31 Oct 2009, Amyned wrote:

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

  • 229. At 10:32am on 31 Oct 2009, U14195783 wrote:

    The issue of when and how politicians choose to listen to advice and evidnece will not be resolved by this issue.
    The most important part of the debate which seems to have been missed,is what advice we should give our children about the use of drugs, based on evidence. Advice given to parents at our childrens' school noted that the problem with cannabis is the type now generally supplied has strong psychotic effects. ( as demonstrated on a BBCTV programme last year). On this basis why would cannabis not be classified as Class B?
    Comparing death rates from smoking cannabis and hores riding clearly miss the point: does riding a horse have the potential to alter your behaviour and mental state in a negative way? Hardly.

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  • 230. At 10:37am on 31 Oct 2009, Takingabreakfromwork wrote:

    Dr Nutt should not be sacked for telling the truth. The government should be sacked for perpetuating the phoney war on drugs, spreading myths and lies about the risks. The fact is most illegal drugs are less harmful than the legal ones, but apparently we must be protected from ourselves. Our overlords have decided they must make the decision for us and we are unable to read the facts and decide for oursleves.

    But our leaders are blind to the fact that the majority of problems caused by illegal drugs are because of their illegal status and the black market - turf wars, addicts stealing to pay inflated prices, no quality or dosage control, money going to unscrupulous people etc. Remove the black market and let pharmaceutical companies step in and these problems are removed. But that would mean letting people choose for themselves and we know our government don't want that.

    Our leaders and media won't let us have the debate or make up our own minds. They keep banging the drum - drugs are bad, drugs are harmful, drugs fund terrorism, drugs make you crazy, drug dealers should be killed - all this hysteria blocks out the facts and removes our personal freedom to decide for ourselves.

    I commend Dr Nutt for his courage to speak up in the face of the frenzy of condemnation from politicians and tabloid editors. I trust the opinion of a scientist who has researched these substances over those of ignorant and arrogant politicians and hacks who state their politically-motivated opinions as fact and villify anyone who disagrees.

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  • 231. At 10:37am on 31 Oct 2009, IknowImright wrote:

    What worried me about Nutt's comments was that they appeared to say that some drug use is not dangerous. Quoting relative levels of harm is not good science - eg to say more people die on the roads than taking ecstasy doesn't mean that ecstasy is less dangerous than road use.
    The cannabis issue is particularly misrepresented. Like many my age (57), I used a significant amount of drugs in my late teens and twenties. I smoked dope on and off for 30 years. In my early twenties I had 2 or 3 short but scary anxiety attacks (psychotic episodes) that at the time I thought were 'acid flashbacks'. I now suspect these were triggered by cannabis and believe I was lucky not to develop a more serious condition.
    For younger people cannabis use is dangerous:
    A 7 year study of 1600 Australian school-children aged 14 to 15 found that those who used cannabis daily were five times more likely to develop depression and anxiety in later life.
    Three major long-term studies have shown that cannabis users have a higher than average risk of developing schizophrenia. If you start smoking it before the age of 15, you are 4 times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder by the time you are 26. The more cannabis someone used, the more likely they were to develop symptoms. The reason is thought to be due to interference with brain development, which continues into your early twenties (refs on Institute of Psychiatry web pages).
    It is significant that in countries with a long history of cannabis use it is not culturally acceptable behaviour in the young - it is something mainly older people do. I now work in mental health in East London. The incidence of psychosis among young black men is disproportionately high - in my view and those of most clinician colleagues it is closely related to cannabis use.

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  • 232. At 10:40am on 31 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    newtactic #227.

    "..the Government represents the population as a whole, many of whom, do not smoke, drink alcohol.."

    which country do you live in? according to official stats one in seven (in the UK) has alcohol related health problems.

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  • 233. At 10:49am on 31 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    IknowImright #231.

    "A 7 year study of 1600 Australian school-children aged 14 to 15 found that those who used cannabis daily were five times more likely to develop depression and anxiety in later life."

    given that we live in a world of war and strife, where millions die because of lack of clean water and so on, one could argue that all those who do not become "depressed" are simply insensitive and self-centered.

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  • 234. At 10:57am on 31 Oct 2009, mightyaussieinlondon wrote:

    The UK has had a rather sad recent history of ignoring science and letting politics over-ride evidence.
    This is no exception and continues the sad decline science has had in the eyes of the politician under Labour.

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  • 235. At 10:58am on 31 Oct 2009, sammyzue wrote:

    Does anyone know if there is a petition that has been set up for this or any other way of expressing an opinion besides comments/blogs? I would really like to express my disgust at the government's decsion on this but am not too familiar with the petition process.

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  • 236. At 10:59am on 31 Oct 2009, rcblog wrote:

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

  • 237. At 11:01am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:


    good argument for the legalisation and age related control of drugs however the home sec considers its good for them to have illegal drugs on every street corner.

    the endocannabinoid systems of children are in full swing Brain development at max and the government allows them to use cannabis freely.

    As Ive previously posted prohibition is the seed of mental health issues when it comes to paranoia. You have the police watching for you the government and news papers calling you the scum of the modern world all prime foundations as and CBT practitioner will tell you to lay the patio of paranoia the government want you dancing on....

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  • 238. At 11:02am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    yes there is
    waiting on one called bringbacknutt (quick ref on the NO 10 downing street site)

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  • 239. At 11:12am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    trafficking cannabis lol

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  • 240. At 11:12am on 31 Oct 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    I'm getting increasingly frightened by how close this government is taking us to a totalitarian state. I already regard it as a police state because it gave the police an unreasonable latitude to make up the law as it goes along. They already can (and do) arrest people who they think might commit a crime in the future. They abuse the terrorist laws (remember the 85-y-o arrested for terrorism because he heckled Jack Straw at a labour conference? And the dozens of amateur photographers arrested under the same laws? And the shootings of innocents for which no one is ever held accountable?)

    Some while ago they made it illegal to protest outside Parliament without a permit. Look at the unstoppable police violence and tactics at demonstrations. Look at the dependence on CCTV evidence to arrest people rather than prevent crime which it cannot do.

    Now ministers are sacking advisers who dare to say what the government doesn't want to hear. How many times now has this happened? How many times has the gov dismissed advice when the result has clearly not been in the public interest: Home Information Packs; ID cards etc. Then look at the range of political correctness with people increasingly arrested for holding views that don't correspond with the PC enforcement.

    Increasingly, I feel threatened if I fail to comply with Labour's insidious but enforced normality. Labour (and I doubt it'll be better under Conservatives) are increasingly silencing opposition, trying to rule the way we think let alone act.

    If you believe this country is still democratic, more fool you. We need far more referenda. And if there's one Parliamentary reform long overdue it is being able to get a government of incompetents Out. A vote of no confidence, if it comes from the people by common consent, means 'out they go'.

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  • 241. At 11:17am on 31 Oct 2009, Maimonides wrote:

    It's my belief that this has come from Mr Brown and not Mr Johnson, who, like the awful Mrs Smith is merely a tow-the-line party lackey. So it is the retrograde values of our peculiar unelected PM that are in full flow here. I have no idea why Mr Brown ever became a socialist. He's the most conservative PM of my lifetime.
    One thing you can say for certain about Mr Brown, he really does believe in weilding the stick, but where's the carrot?

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  • 242. At 11:18am on 31 Oct 2009, R-T wrote:

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  • 243. At 11:20am on 31 Oct 2009, newtactic wrote:

    @232 jr4412 This is precisely my point, which you so kindly make for me. Professor Nutt has taken statistics to make his point. Because the incidence of harm from alcohol is greater because more people take to it excess does not prove it is more or less harmful than cannabis or other drugs. Unfortunately from family jobs and professions and experiences, I have good reason to find that illicit drug use, excessive alcohol use and smoking can all cause serious illnesses, destroy hopes for the future and kill. My point was that Professor Nutt's choice of comparisons and statements suggested there was little harm in taking certain drugs, for instance ecstasy. This reasoning has to be based on the statistics that there are more injuries and deaths from horse riding than taking ecstasy. It does not make taking ecstasy safe and, in my opinion, it gives the wrong message to young people, particularly children. He may be right in his own mind, But I doubt Professor Nutt is aware how his remarks may be taken by people with experiences such as myself and my family.

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  • 244. At 11:28am on 31 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    newtactic #243.

    "It does not make taking ecstasy safe and, in my opinion, it gives the wrong message to young people, particularly children."

    well, frankly, neither did the (government supported) 'Leah Betts' campaign and the gross misrepresentations contained in that.

    compare the UK to the experiences in Portugal, Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.

    what is your considered opinion?

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  • 245. At 11:30am on 31 Oct 2009, dawolf wrote:

    I come from a Labour household. Mother who stood as a Labour MEP, father who was a Labour councillor...

    Anyway, today I decided to vote Lib Dem. Having been throwing the idea in the air for a while now (could never vote Tory, I don't agree with their policies at all). But this just proves that the modern Labour party isn't socially liberal and scientific enough for me.

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  • 246. At 11:33am on 31 Oct 2009, sammyzue wrote:

    Thanks CommunityCriminal

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  • 247. At 11:35am on 31 Oct 2009, R-T wrote:

    The Government rejected evidence showing that children do not benefit from formal education at age 4. Probation Officers tell the government that locking up petty offenders is no solution, but polititians appease the public by promising tough sentencing.

    I have friends and family members whose lives have been ruined by alcohol and tobacco. Drug users I have known generally used less as they got older; drinkers and smokers have hugely increased their intake.

    I worry about my teenage children drinking or smoking as they will ruin their health, physical and mental. I am concerned about their taking 'soft' drugs because they could get a criminal record with all the consequences.

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  • 248. At 11:36am on 31 Oct 2009, SimonHarpham wrote:

    227. "Professor Nutt belongs to an elite academic circle, which, in my opinion, is out of touch with reality"

    No, he belongs to a scientific community who are, if anything, more in touch with reality than most people. That's the reason the ACMD was set up - to provide hard facts about issues such as drug use and its possible consequences.

    "was it appropriate for an academic in Government pay to suggest there may be no more danger in taking 'Ecstasy' than riding a horse?"

    Yes. If you ask a scientist what relative risk taking, e.g. ecstasy, poses then you'll get a relative answer. Horse-riding, car-driving, drug-taking, climbing - all these are activities which involve risk and the answers on the relative risks of these activities might not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth. Unfortunately politicians and some sections of the population don't seem to be interested in the truth, they just want their own sand-headed beliefs confirmed. If that's how you want to live well go ahead, but don't ask science to confirm beliefs that have no scientific basis because you'll likely get answers you don't want to hear.

    "Was it so bad for the Government to sack him for this and other remarks, which could mislead so many people, particularly young people?"

    Yes, because the government's policies seem to be based on little else than anecdotal evidence and deliberate misinformation. You wouldn't thank anyone for leading you to believe that climbing was a risk-free activity so why would you thank the government for leading you to believe that something which is less risky than drinking alcohol is much more risky?

    231. "Quoting relative levels of harm is not good science - e.g. to say more people die on the roads than taking ecstasy doesn't mean that ecstasy is less dangerous than road use."

    Sorry, but I disagree - quoting relative levels of harm is good science. To quote Professor Nutt "No one is suggesting that drugs are not harmful. The critical question is one of scale and degree", and scale and degree is what 'relative harm' is all about. Taking ecstasy just is less dangerous than horse riding - it kills and harms fewer people per year. Home Office statements such as "Ecstasy can and does kill unpredictably. There is no such thing as a 'safe dose'" ignore the fact that horse riding can and does kill just as unpredictably, as do road-use and climbing. In which case 'killing unpredictably' is a non-issue as far as deciding what is an is not a risky activity. Of course that's not really what the Home Office means - what they mean is that there's some kind of moral position to be taken on drug-taking, and not on horse-riding - but they seem utterly unable to just spit it out and say what they mean. The result is that their views appear utterly confused and nonsensical.

    If the best the Home Office and Alan Johnson can do is waffle their way through a complex social-scientific issue then they're not doing anyone any good and should shut up before they make themselves look even more foolish than they already do.

    235. I've submitted a petition this morning to reinstate Professor David Nutt, which reads:

    "We do not believe Professor Nutt's recent statement have gone beyond the scientific evidence into these matters, we believe the government's policies on drug classification are not justified on the grounds of scientific research, and we believe if there is any public confusion between scientific advice and policy it is due to this and previous governments' policies rather than the evidence-based research the ACMD has and continues to undertake.

    Consequently we ask for Professor Nutt to be reinstated as chairman of the ACMD."

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  • 249. At 11:42am on 31 Oct 2009, newtactic wrote:

    Dear jr4412, my considered opinion is, unfortunately, an emotional one, based on personal experience, as was the Leah Betts campaign. I and members of my family working in the medical profession, the social services and the prison service, have been too involved in the harm things like nicotine, alcohol and cannabis can cause to be able to give the sort of opinion based on cold statistics and chemical analysis, that Professor Nutt seems to have the luxury of being able to do. I cannot give an abstract opinion on this. My life experiences, unfortunately, leave me unable to do so. I'm sorry if this disappoints you. But it is good to debate these points.

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  • 250. At 11:44am on 31 Oct 2009, nhsfoster wrote:


    Nowhere did Nutt say ectasy is safe. It is all about relative risk therefore based upon numbers using each substance. yes alcohol is endemic within our population (politicians included), as is smoking. But then again so is cannabis, ecstasy etc. From research alcohol and smoking lead to greater physical and mental problems.

    He is not saying these substances are safe in any way. He is merely saying there are other substances with greater addictive potential that continue to devastate lives.

    Also Nutt is hardly detached from reality, his research is based on the people directly affected. Educated people still can smoke, drink etc. It would be more reasonable to say it is the politicians who are detached, many of whom have no understanding on the medical, mental or social implications of substance abuse. This is why they have advisors specialising in these areas thereby inherantly detaching themselves from the people affected.

    You also cannot compare drug taking to horse riding. Sure there is physical risk, but dependance, withdrawl, psychological impications etc. i think not.

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  • 251. At 11:45am on 31 Oct 2009, IknowImright wrote:

    Community criminal - though reasonably convinced that cannabis use by the young should be moderated, I'm enough of a libertarian to think it should not be criminalised but legally available to the over 25s.

    Likewise I don't agree with Nutt's sacking - despite disagreeing his analysis. Ironic that his sacking has probably stimulated far more of a debate on the issues than his orignal comments!

    However, I'm more worried that the evidence on cannabis use and mental ill-health is not more widely known and acted on. It is possibly the reason it is banned and more highly classified now than a few years ago but that is not necessarily the right response to the evidence.

    Has the decrease in smoking tobacco resulted from prohibition or increasing awareness of its dangers and social unacceptability? I think probably the latter. Anything voluntarily accepted is far more effective than something forced in changing attitudes and behaviour.

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  • 252. At 11:45am on 31 Oct 2009, steve jacobs wrote:

    This blog refers to the "News" that Mr Nutt was "sacked" yesterday by Mr Johnson and shows both letters dated 30th October. Did anyone else notice Jacquie Smith say "He Was" on question time recorded the day before (if you want to look it's on bbc i-player about 51 mins into the show). I guess she got her way in the end :((

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  • 253. At 11:46am on 31 Oct 2009, spindlykillerfish wrote:

    Purpose of Expert evidence (delete where applicable)

    1) To help Government shape the best policy to serve the needs of the people


    2) To help Government defend its chosen policy to serve the needs of its own political agenda



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  • 254. At 11:51am on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    has smoking reduced or do more people buy grey market tabbaco abroad due to price?

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  • 255. At 11:52am on 31 Oct 2009, goldCaesar wrote:

    Like many people of my generation i experimented with drugs in my early 20s.

    I have taken cannabis, ecstacy, cocaine, speed, halucinogenic mushrooms and powdered MDMA. (though not at the same time).

    I agree with the professor, not one of the above drugs has the physical or psychological (by psychological i refer to alcohol's impediment to stringing together a coherant scentence in the short term ) effects of an evenings drinking. There is no illegal drug i have taken that can leave you crawling around in the gutter, unable to pronounce your own name in the same way alcohol can.

    If the government is going to ignore eminently sensible scientific advice they should save the taxpayer some money and just scrap the whole department.

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  • 256. At 11:52am on 31 Oct 2009, friendlynorthernlad wrote:

    This is a real tricky one! Professor Nut and the AMCD in their comments have identified a conflict between government policy and the evidence based research into the effects of drugs and alcohol which they offer government in their capacity as an independent advisory body. My view is in a healthy democracy the views of all independent bodies should be available to the public. Should these views be at odds with government policy then the government should be able to defend its actions when its policy is contrary to the advice given. The Governments Chief Scientific Medical Officer for example; will say what the government tells him to say. This should not be the case with an independent body. Alan Johnson has taken the view that Professor Nut is trying to lobby for change, in other words being political. I think the truth is, the government is saying 'make your advice fit our policy.'

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  • 257. At 11:55am on 31 Oct 2009, Takingabreakfromwork wrote:

    Iknowimright said "If you start smoking it before the age of 15, you are 4 times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder by the time you are 26."

    It's these kind of statements, while not necessarily false, that mislead and exaggerate and scaremonger. The risk of a psychotic disorder increases from 0.01% to 0.04%. Yes that's 4 times the initial risk, but the initial risk is so small that the increased risk is also small. 4 times more likely sounds much more scary than a 0.03% higher risk doesn't it?

    Given that life is full of risks with a much greater chance of occurring than this miniscule probability of psychosis, it is up to the individual to decide for themselves if it's worth the risk. If we look hard enough or give something the right amount of spin we could present seemingly compelling reasons to outlaw almost anything.

    Give people the facts, not distorted statistics or political scaremongering. Nothing in life is free from risk or danger, everything we do is a matter of risk versus reward. I don't need a nanny state to protect me from myself and (to borrow a slogan from the pro-abortion lobby) it's my body, I'll do what I like with it.

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  • 258. At 11:56am on 31 Oct 2009, apeppiat wrote:

    On Question Time this week the former Home Secretary Jaquie Smith stated that she had followed the advice from the Parliamentary Authorities about her expense claims. In the same programme she also said that she didn't have to take the advice about reclassification from the scientific experts on drugs. Surely there is a principle that either independent advice should always be taken and therefore Cannabis should be reclassified or alternatively that the Ministers judgement should always be used and therefore she shouldn't have claimed for her second home - you can't have it both ways.

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  • 259. At 11:58am on 31 Oct 2009, Stavrosian wrote:

    Drug policy in the UK is a joke to drug users. If anybody in the government thinks that any of the people taking any of the two million ecstasy tablets that are estimated to be used in the UK every single weekend gives a hoot what the Home Secretary thinks about their hobby, what classification it is, or that they'll be scared away from it by laughable propaganda, then they are living in a dream world. Public debate on the issue is so clouded by falsehoods and fear that as soon as people come into contact with drugs in reality and find that all is not as drastic they had been told, the "war" on drugs has already been lost. Those people no longer care at all what the government has to say on the matter because they know they can't trust it to be honest.

    Fighting drug use is a fool's errand. Simply put: people want to do it, and even a cursory glance at the world tells us that they will continue to do it no matter what any government does to try and stop them. Men like Professor Nutt who argue that the only real option we have is to engage in open, evidence-based public debate in order that everybody be as informed as possible are the only ones in the argument with a shred of sanity. I hope this latest deranged decision by the government comes back to bite them, because it seems to me that even people who might previously have fallen on the "tough on drugs" bandwaggon in the past are starting to see how futile this vacuous, fear-based policy has become.

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  • 260. At 12:01pm on 31 Oct 2009, Observation2 wrote:

    I dont know much about ecstasy but could somebody please explain to me what they do not find suspicious about the blanket prohibition of the three most vital medicinal plants on Gods green earth ?

    Cannabis Sativa has been labelled "miraculous" and "superior" by leading herbalists for thousands of years and was mankind’s most productive crop approximately 100 years ago giving products such as paper, canvas, resin and pitch as well as being a mild anti-depressant.

    One cannot cry smoking is bad for health when the streets smell as they do and if you do, then I suggest you research the content and process in the oil refining industry for petrol and the subsequent fumes from millions of vehicles that we have all been inhaling now for decades.

    If on one hand you allow alcohol to be sold from petrol stations to car and lorry drivers, yet with the other hand, prohibit traditional medicinal flowers with expensive and cruel prison lose everyone’s respect immediately..and many consider it a form of legislative racism.

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  • 261. At 12:01pm on 31 Oct 2009, IknowImright wrote:

    Simon (248) - at one level you're right, at another I think I am. I don't think the relative levels he was quoting were appropriately comparable - not from some moral position but in terms of their relative harm.

    Take road use for example - we all use the roads. Have to, in fact and yes some die as a result. Relatively fewer use cannabis - quite possibly fewer die from it but between the extremes of death and other outcomes there's a huge range of disagreeable consequences. So far as I know, no-one could link road use with poor mental health. So in terms of outcomes, I suggest cannabis use is far more dangerous than road use - or horse riding for that matter!

    But would we want to discourage road use or actually to encourage road safety?

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  • 262. At 12:03pm on 31 Oct 2009, Jedra wrote:

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

  • 263. At 12:10pm on 31 Oct 2009, Observation2 wrote:


    If you made apples illegal it would not be long before you could link apple eating to strange psychological characteristics.

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  • 264. At 12:18pm on 31 Oct 2009, steve jacobs wrote:

    Surely the age issue is not really an issue at all... children of 14/15 are not legally allowed to use either tobacco or alcohol in this country and the same would almost certainly apply to cannabis if it were made legal in the UK.
    The same research referred to showed that there was no significant increase in mental health problems in mature test subjects, so how would this "legal" trade, if it ever happened, increase the risks.
    By legitamising the supply it could be far more effectivly controlled in much the same way as alcohol is and the risks of, along with the need to adulterate the product would be eliminated.

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  • 265. At 12:25pm on 31 Oct 2009, Jaknet wrote:

    This is the sort of political lies and attitudes that I would expect from a place like China... Shall we now have to call everyone in the government "Comrade"

    Can this idiot Johnson really not see that all he has done is promote the use of illegal drugs and breaking the law if you want to do yourself less harm.

    He has openly admitted that the government policy is NOT based of fact or real harm compared to the legal drugs we are promoted to use, that by using legal drugs you are risking far more harm to yourself than if you use illegal drugs and that the entire government drug policy is based on lies and lining the pockets of the government and various lobby interest groups, NOT on saving anyone's health.

    From a health point of view I have to break the law and use illegal drugs as they are doing me less harm than the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco which the government is more than happy to keep selling and taxing

    How come the BBC which "claims" to be impartial is reporting this story exactly the way the government and the tories want it reported... slanting the figures and reporting to suit the "official line!"

    CommunityCriminal I see that there is no sign of your petition on the site yet... I bet this will get quietly "lost" as they have no interest in hearing what the population they are supposed to be serving really wants.

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  • 266. At 12:26pm on 31 Oct 2009, IknowImright wrote:

    'takingabreakfromwork' (257) if the prevalence of psychotic disorder was 0.01% it would be almost fair to criticise me of scaremongering. The fact is that prevalence is considerably higher. Just google it! You'll find lifetime prevalences varying between 1.3% and 3.1% (US and Finland),

    More relevant perhaps the rates for young people. One study puts psychosis in 13- to 19-year-olds as 0.54%, increasing to 0.176% by age 18. Something that increases that chance by 4 times is signficantly alarming in my book.

    Long term mental health problems (of which psychoses are the major kind), cost this country a huge amount in direct care cost. My Trust alone spends £160m in 3 London boroughs and admits 4000 people a year to hospital - you have to be very ill to get to hospital these days and most of the problems are dealt with by families, at home. The impact on families and cost of human misery is almost immeasurable.

    I am not saying don't use it or ban it, but I am saying cannabis is dangerous to the young - and that's a fact!

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  • 267. At 12:31pm on 31 Oct 2009, scienceperson wrote:

    What irritates me the most is that the politicians want a clear message to be portrayed to the public, and also try to have confidence from the public by having an independent assessment on the drug classification. The results of the independent assessment is then not actively publicised?!?! why not? why can't the public be promoted the key findings of the report advertised and talked about through the media? is it because the report DOES say it should stay as a class C drug and the political parties are not happy with the results? who knows? If they made the public more aware of the independent assessment then MAYBE the public can form their own opinion? It is as if either the political parties are not happy with the results or they do not value the intelligence of the public who can form their own opinions.
    The political party in power needs public confidence, sacking a highly qualified individual appears to show that they are not aware of how the public would react to this, which begs the question; HOW are you trying to improve public confidence in voting for you in the next election because it doesn't seem that they are making the best of efforts sacking Professor Nutt now does it?

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  • 268. At 12:34pm on 31 Oct 2009, 46yearoldman wrote:

    Professor Nutt believes if he has hard evidence that supports his argument that it should be directly translated into policy. Now, I don't like this government but I heard Professor Nutt on BBC R4 yesterday evening and he did not impress me with his arguement.

    He uses statistics as the sole base of his arguement. US military planners did this in the Vietnam War and look at the results. The United States lost the way and huge human cost because one fundamental thing was missing - common sense.

    Are we really to believe that esctacy is safer than alcohol? Did the professor actually correlate the numbers between those who start on this drug and then go on to much harder drugs in society and what the dreadful consequences are? Are we really to believe or act upon his statements last night that horse riding is more dangerous than esctacy?

    Let's face it, would you rather your children had two glasses of wine at a part tonight or a joint?

    On R4 last night, Professor Nutt he came across as an emotional, condescending know-it-all who thought his job was to drive policy - without question. It wasn't and, as a voter, regardless of his lunatic stats in which he would have my daughter taking tablets rather than riding her damned pony, I'd vote to be tougher on drugs.

    I like people who challenge but Professor Nutt believed scientists should drive policy without question. That is dangerous and he deserved to be sacked.

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  • 269. At 12:36pm on 31 Oct 2009, travesty1 wrote:

    It's nice to know, that politicians are putting mis-informed public opinion ahead of scientific facts. Perhaps now we can hang murderers? All the evidence shows killing murderers does not deter violent crime, but who cares? Its what the public want. So lets bring it back, even though science says it wont bring down the murder rate.
    What's next, more coal powered electricity, just 'cause its cheap? Who needs science anyway?

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  • 270. At 12:37pm on 31 Oct 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    Secrecy:Kings know best.Wink.

    Sometimes you do wonder what they are on'
    ''...drugs harms...''
    Maybe in light of this,the AJ letter will be withdrawn.
    Withdrawal symptoms.

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  • 271. At 12:40pm on 31 Oct 2009, Ahremahraitch wrote:

    Another disastrous misjudgment of public opinion by the government and, even worse, a denial of the plain truth that Professor Nutt speaks.
    Hats off to the man and hopefully he will carry on talking sense even though it's not what some politicians want to hear.

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  • 272. At 12:42pm on 31 Oct 2009, maximise-ict wrote:

    Professor Nutt appears to ignore Social History. For many years now both smoking of tobacco and drinking of alcohol have been socially acceptable. However, the limited minority of drugs abusers have not been equally and effectively constrained. Until recently it has not seemed appropriate to implement similar and all pervasive laws concerning drugs abuse. Over the decades if not centuries, here have been steadily implemented a large number of both national and local laws to try and control both smoking and drinking which appear to be working reasonably well. And this is my point, without these controls the 'evils' of smoking and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol would be far, far worse.

    We now have an expanding abuse of drugs and if allowed to become both unconstrained and socially acceptable by a similar number of people to those who smoke and/or drink the resultant number of deaths and occurences of social/personal harm would be, surely, much greater than those resulting from alcohol abuse or smoking.

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  • 273. At 12:47pm on 31 Oct 2009, SimonHarpham wrote:

    > Simon (248) - at one level you're right, at another I think I am. I don't think the relative levels he was quoting were appropriately comparable - not from some moral position but in terms of their relative harm.

    So how do you compare risky activities? Climbing up a rock-face is a very different activity from horse-riding; one involves an animal with a brain the size of a peanut, and the other involves a horse. Alcohol consumption is also a risky activity - how do we compare that to cannabis use? If what you're saying is that each risky activity has to be exactly the same as the thing it's being compared to then the whole notion of relative risk just disappears into thin air. But then that's the idea of looking at death-rates, the different kinds of harm that can accrue from different risky activities (breaking your leg when climbing seems quite likely - is it just as likely when smoking a joint?), and the likelihood that any given activity can lead to that kind of harm. I agree that this will lead one to some unlikely conclusions - Professor Nutt's comparison between ecstasy use and horse-riding being one - but then science isn't about keeping all safe and warm within what's comfortable and expected, it's about searching for the truth and then making rational decisions based on what you find.

    > Take road use for example - we all use the roads. Have to, in fact and yes some die as a result. Relatively fewer use cannabis - quite possibly fewer die from it but between the extremes of death and other outcomes there's a huge range of disagreeable consequences.

    True, but the same's also true of road-use, which is a contributory factor to endemic societal asthma, obesity, air pollution and so on. None of these are agreeable consequences of road-use, regardless of whether you drive your petrol or diesel vehicle courteously.

    > So far as I know, no-one could link road use with poor mental health. So in terms of outcomes, I suggest cannabis use is far more dangerous than road use - or horse riding for that matter!

    Well mental impairment due to alcohol consumption isn't a great argument for drinking yet people still drink, and you're more likely to get serious medical conditions from drinking than you are from cannabis use. Which means that if cannabis is more risky than using the road, alcohol is more risky than either of them. I'm still going to drive home after work and have a pint of beer tonight though.

    > But would we want to discourage road use or actually to encourage road safety?

    Well yes, that's the issue. So why would you want to discourage something? Well I guess there are moral reasons (drugs are bad), there are scientific reasons (drugs cause you medical harm), there are societal reasons (drugs cause these (... list ...) problems in society). Scientific and societal reasons both rest on clear, controlled evidence and conclusions must be warranted by research; moral reasons can spring from anywhere and don't seem to require any justification.

    I guess my position on all this is that you think drugs are bad that's fair enough, I'm an atheist myself and can't see the point in a great many religious restrictions which seem to be largely nonsensical. Still, that's probably just me. What you can't do, though, is jump from saying drugs are bad to saying that drugs do you medical harm because the conclusion isn't warranted by the evidence. The problem with the government is that they seem to believe this is an entirely logical thing to do. Unfortunately it's not, and the consequence of that is that people just ignore their advice.

    Rather than treating the population like idiots and hiding behind policy while ignoring commissioned scientific evidence, they need to have a rational debate about this stuff and get the issues out into the public domain. Going all 'reefer madness' about the whole thing isn't the way to do it and will only make things worse.

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  • 274. At 12:52pm on 31 Oct 2009, Ed wrote:


    Nobody is pointing out the obvious. Section 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act sets up the ACMD to provide advice on evidence, policy, and the remit of the ACMD even stretches to giving advice on whether there should be changes in the law itself.

    Alan Johnson does not understand this, which is an abuse of power - a minister must minimally understand the law regulating his powers or that power will likely be abused. Johnson's actions regarding David Nutt are wholly unlawful.

    Secondly, the Government has admitted twice that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than alcohol and cigarettes:

    First, in 2003:

    "Acute deaths per annum as a result of illegal drug use:
    Ecstasy 25
    Cannabis 0
    LSD 0

    ...In comparison, alcohol causes 6000 acute and chronic deaths per year, and tobacco smoking around 100,000" [Number 10 Strategy Unit Drugs Project., 2003]

    Second in 2006:

    "..the government acknowledges that alcohol and tobacco account for more health problems and deaths than illicit drugs...." [HM Government, cm 6941, Page 24]

    Nutt's revelations are wholly uncontroversial in this light, and government is clearly abusing its power.

    Edwin Stratton

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  • 275. At 12:59pm on 31 Oct 2009, steve jacobs wrote:

    to 46yearoldman
    Actually I have a 15yr old daughter and I WOULD prefer to find out that she had smoked a joint at a party rather than drunk alcohol !!!
    I lost my mother 2 years ago due to alcohol abuse, she spent 30years of her life addicted to it and it destroyed not only her but the lives of her family. I have also lost 3 Uncles, 2 Aunts and one cousin to the same thing. Many former school friends, ex-girlfriends and work mates are all now confirmed alcoholics, many undergoing treatment for their problems and according to government guidelines I to am an alcoholic.
    My daughter frequently comes home from school with tales of classmates (mostly girls) who have got drunk at parties and got into problems, all as a direct result of alcohol consumption NOT cannabis abuse and we live in a fairly rural location, not a city center.
    I don't smoke cannabis myself anymore as it is not that easy to come by where I live but during the time I did smoke it on a regular basis (from 17 years old up until I was about 40) I never found the need to take anything stronger. I could behave in a rational manner and held down a steady job. It did not turn me into a mental patient nor did it turn me into a criminal (although using it was a criminal act), the same cannot be said for the friends and family who have been affected by alcohol.
    So once again to answer your question about wine....... I would be far less upset if my daughter came home from a party confessing to have smoked a joint than getting drunk.

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  • 276. At 1:04pm on 31 Oct 2009, freddawlanen wrote:

    Is there ANYTHING left in the current Labour government that we can believe in?
    They get expert advice on many things, then dismiss it on a whim if it is not what they wanted to hear.

    More people do die each year horseriding than taking ecstacy, cannabis is safer to use than alcohol and you'll never hear of a brawl starting due to smoking cannabis will you?

    If all illegal drugs were legalised, regulated and taxed, there would be fewer dangers, no shady dealers cutting the drugs with other things, no drugs barons earning billions and a lot less of things that are associated with them, eg. people smuggling, slavery.

    The growth and production of some of these drugs could help to stabalise a few countries, giving them guaranteed revenue.
    Cannabis growth would help the environment, it is very quickly grown, produces more oxygen than any other crop, makes cheaper/stronger paper than trees, cheaper/stronger material than cotton, can be used as a cheaper bio-fuel than any other crop and has been the most widely used painkiller in the world for millenia.

    All that before even taking into account the BILLIONS raised in taxes each year, in our current situation, this alone should be enough for any politician to study the facts (instead of their own twisted viewpoints) and look at the big picture, Britain is nearly bankrupt, any help plugging the debt must be looked at objectively.

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  • 277. At 1:09pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Did the professor actually correlate the numbers between those who start on this drug and then go on to much harder drugs in society and what the dreadful consequences are? Are we really to believe or act upon his statements last night that horse riding is more dangerous than ecstasy?

    the facts stand at 37% of the adult working population use drugs across all walks of life. so if you break that down then very few go on to harder drugs as you put it with the mass using cannabis 1 in 25 world wide. If you lay out in black and white which is what we are talking about the facts on harm for horse riding and E then yes E wins hands down over a lifetime use.

    2 joints the harms are so few compared to the risks of alcohol and its effects as it shuts your brain, as it wraps itself in fatty acids(part of the endocannabinoid system) to defend itself from the poisoning you would be inflicting on it.

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  • 278. At 1:14pm on 31 Oct 2009, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    This is what Governments/politicians do to honesty, they squash it down, stamp it out and sack it. I fully support Prof Nutt and will be writing a letter of complaint too both Brown and my local MP, he looked like the only man near the Government who had an iota of moral ethics and honesty about him. I wonder who is going to get his job? tony blair, come to think about it was that role as a Gov. adviser voluntary, Tony wouldn't be interested I imagine.

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  • 279. At 1:16pm on 31 Oct 2009, TWSI wrote:

    Is the issue not that this Govt has taken spending on experts and consultants to ludicrous levels but they are window dressing. They just do what the 'dloids tell them to. They literally wasted billions here on IT and Quangos of compliant cyphers.

    All that stuff about Skunk and hard Cannabis turns out it was an invention and not one from science but anecdote.

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  • 280. At 1:24pm on 31 Oct 2009, MrsEJMark wrote:

    I cannot say I am at all surprised that Professor Nutt was sacked, however I wholeheartedly agree with his comments. Just look at the statistics, how many people are admitted to casualty and A&E departments all over the UK every weekend with alcohol related injuries? How many ambulances are wasted on people being drunk and how much police time is used trying to clean up our town centres from yobs out on a Saturday night? How can something with no recorded fatalities (cannibis) be illegal? If the Government were to think clearly and logically about the decriminalisation of drugs they would see that they could educate people and wipe out drug related crime in an instant. Or if you want to be really mercinary, think of the money from the tax of drugs they could make?! Domestic violence, prostitution, drugs rings, gangs, all of these things could be changed if we just looked at history and legalised drugs. I know this comment will not be viewed sympathetically but have a read of Ben Eltons High Society and perhaps it will get you thinking...
    Thank you for reading my post.

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  • 281. At 1:25pm on 31 Oct 2009, Musiclovesyou wrote:

    I've said it before and i'll say it again. Leagalising EVERYTHING needs to be the progressive way forward for this modern society we live in. Your children, your friends, your family, your work colleagues - chances are, a great deal of them will be going out tonight, or round to a friend's house and will be taking drugs. This is absolute realism in the face of this government's frankly ridiculous scaremongering and ill-judged views on drugs. Legalise drugs, wipe out morally unscrupulous and violent drug dealers in one fell swoop. Spend the money saved on trying to stop drugs getting onto the streets on treatment centres, addiction clinics and better education for our young people about the effects of drugs. Take away the mystery and intrigue surrounding drugs. Alcohol and cigarettes kill THOUSANDS more people annually than all the other supposed more 'sinister' drugs put together. Weigh up the pros and cons people of the UK, I'm certain you'll find that long-term, such a move would prove to be hugely benificial, and provide a sound and robust platform for taxing and controlling drugs in a far more effective fashion than what we have now.

    Matt, Chester, a non-drug user

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  • 282. At 1:31pm on 31 Oct 2009, start_of_an_era wrote:

    As well as the pig-headedness of sacking someone for telling the truth, does this decision not also highlight the sheer hypocrisy of politicians. Many of them (including the former Home Secretary) have admitted to past drug use themselves, yet they want to criminalise others who do the same thing. Or is it one law for those who "tried it once at a party, didn't like it, have never touched it since and deeply regret the experience" and another for all other drug users?

    Then again, maybe our politicians' previous drug use is what's responsible for their schizophrenic, detached-from-reality policies.

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  • 283. At 1:57pm on 31 Oct 2009, idlegossiper wrote:

    Come on Everybody, get Real! This is all about Taxation!
    Aside from the fact that users of controlled substances are unlikely to be able to work in the normal way (for long), holding down a job, caring for a family etc but alcohol and tobacco are taxed and cannabis, heroin, cocaine, crystal meth and all the rest of these noxious things are not taxed! Can the Government be blamed for the sacking of Prof Nutt? No! What do you expect the Government to do, legalise banned drugs and accelerate the disintegration of Society as we know it? Just to cash in on the trade? It's simply not possible for the Government to condone such drug use.

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  • 284. At 2:04pm on 31 Oct 2009, Ian Glossop wrote:

    This debate is not really about drugs.

    It is about presentation, prejudice and pomposity versus reality, knowledge and rationality.

    David Nutt as an expert on the effects of various drugs should be advising the Government on the scientifica facts of the case - and this he did. Government doesn't have to take his advice.

    David Nutt as a private citizen, but with a certain public profile, who also happens to be extremely knowledgeable about frugs, has every right to say in public that Government policy is irrational, incoherent nonsense - and that they appear to be acting on the basis of prejudice and not evidence. [This view will not be a surprise to anyone under the age of 50 who doesn't take the Daily Mail seriously.]

    The obvious implication is that Brown and Johnson are either fools, delusional or simply pusillanimously pandering to popular prejudice. Either way they are ridiculous.

    This is what Johnson did not like and this is why David Nutt was sacked - for pointing out the Emperor was naked. [And Cris Grayling thinks this is a good idea - which just makes him ridiculous.]

    The issue of helicopters in Afghanistan is the same: the evidence gathered by the experts on the ground (the commanders in the field) is that there are not enough helicopters for the British Army to use - and that this is costing lives. The Government presentation is that there are enough helicopters and that the Government is doing everything it can to support British troops. Of course any senior commander in the aremed forces who says publicly that the Government's policy is riiational and not evidence based can expect the same result. Messengers with bad news will be shot.

    Maybe these affairs herald the 'death of spin' - and a revolution against the ignorance and prejudice which allow spin to thrive.
    [Or maybe I'm being too optimistic.]

    PS: Whatever happened to politicians of principle and integrity? I disagreed a lot with Tony Benn and Enoch Powell - but I respected them both because they both seemed to me to have principles and would stick to them.

    If Brown has a moral compass (I don't know, there's a lot of rhetoric but not much real evidence)- then (it seems to me) he has very little moral courage. I have very little respect for the current crop of politicians - of whatever colour.

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  • 285. At 2:10pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    283 yet they can condone the deaths on foreign soil of our nations sons and daughters in the name of this war on drugs and continue to do so as they now licence opium growing to the EU, they condone the killing of thousands of civilians in the name of the war on drugs people that have nothing to do with it but pay a high price on our governments miss guided choices.

    Imagine a world 20 more years down this path we are on. today the death toll in a border town in Mexico stands at 100 thousand thanks to the illegal trade in drugs... this WILL spread around the world under current drug policies like ours.

    which part of 37% of the adult working population use drugs didnt you get?
    who needs to get real?

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  • 286. At 2:15pm on 31 Oct 2009, idlegossiper wrote:

    Adding to what I have already said, if you want a really nasty Police State then go ahead, legalise and tax class A,B, and unprescribed class C drugs.

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  • 287. At 2:17pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Is the labour party's moral compass the one Jack Sparrow uses ?:)

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  • 288. At 2:20pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    re 193, diblersan, congratulations for regurgitating an entirely deluded and stereotypical representation of the seedy drug world. it contributed nothing to this debate because frankly for all i or anyone else knows or cares the events could be complete tripe anyway. why dont you throw in an ARGUMENT or some facts or knowledge.. anything is better then self-indulgent anecdotes.
    re 201, propolicygeek, your logic puts the creation of any kind of policy on painfully tenuous grounds as if policy is not based in reality, ie the facts of a matter, then where the woot does it come from? i will concede its an often asked question with this administration. the labour top dogs are social engineers make no mistake about it. harman, particularly, terrifies me.
    re 272, maximise-ict, thank you also for putting that out there, it's precisely the kind of vague doomspeak that helps us lose faith in these politicians. stop patronising us with your wholesomely invented drivel and refer us to the truth. in your own time.

    Big Love to all the posters who embrace rationality and liberty

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  • 289. At 2:24pm on 31 Oct 2009, Ian Glossop wrote:

    I've heard various comments that Advisors advise and ministers decide - and that David Nutt was not sacked for giving unwelcome advice but for undermining Government policy by speaking out about the facts.

    Prof. Nutt did not undermine Government policy by speaking out. The policy was and is undermined by being inconsistent with the facts - not because the facts are available in a public domain.

    It is a policy-failure in the true sense of the term and the people responsible are the policymakers, not those pointing out the defectiveness of the policy. The people responsible for undermining the policy should be sacked - starting with Alan Johnson.

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  • 290. At 2:36pm on 31 Oct 2009, Homosuperian wrote:

    The real issue were debating here is control. Control of our own minds, our own opinions and our own perspectives. Psychoactive drugs allow the user a totally different view on life itself. Sure, most people use such substances for recreational use, just like alchohol. But you dont see the same violence and abuse as you do with booze.

    This year i went to a music festival where pretty much every person there was quite obviously off their heads on drugs and they seemed happy as larry; they certainly didnt start any fights, break anything and as far as i'm aware nobody died.

    This is however, not to say that all drugs should be legalised. The top five drugs in Nutt's spectrum are inherently dangerous and I dont beleive they should be readily avaliable in your nearest Tesco, but with regards to Cannabis and Ecstacy, which facts show to be much less harmful than their legal counterparts, tobacco and alcohol.

    This is simply another case of British government behaving like children who wont try new food. ( in the case of cannabis) They simply look at something they havent tried before, dont investigate it or try to learn anything about what it does really, and just ban it outright because it makes people high.

    Nutt should be reinstated as the man who has the final say on the legality of drugs. Or maybe Alan Johnson should just open his ears...

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  • 291. At 2:37pm on 31 Oct 2009, Coilean wrote:

    Advisers advise and politicians decide. Apart from Professor Nutt's previously ludicrous comments on Ecstasy, his views on Cannabis have now clearly overstepped the mark in terms of crticising policy. This must be one of the few occasions where I have no hesitation in supporting the Government. Well done Alan Johnson.

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  • 292. At 2:41pm on 31 Oct 2009, Homosapiens24 wrote:

    How depressing. The government values irrational opinions more highly than evidence-based conclusions on relative harmfulness. How could anyone have confidence in a government that disregards scientific findings and tries to squash anyone that doesn't go along with its pre-conceived policy.

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  • 293. At 2:41pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    285 CommunityCriminal, damn right, i pay a lot of attention to the state of affairs in the USA and follow certain commentators closely. I'd establish Maherism as a philosophy if he himself would not likely hate the thought. the 'War on Drugs' in america is an afront civil rights and is almost entirely ineffective. american prisons are filling up so quickly with so-called 'drug offenders' that US society is facing a crisis of conscience.
    unfortunately i feel that the UK and US's actions abroad are only compatible with their blunt obstinance at home. the banal geo-politiks of westminster and washington are in principle no less offensive then their desire to control domestic liberties.

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  • 294. At 2:52pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    291 coilean, almost everything about this government demands scrutiny and criticism.
    you miss the point of democracy, we elect the politicians... oh wait, not these ones... and they should heed they voice of the nation. i view their responsibility as the careful implementation of policy that best delivers our collective desire. dont forget they work for you... for god sakes they only exist because of you!
    sadly for you, prof nutt. was imparting scientific advice. thus i believe your views on drugs are skewed and you should engage in some research!

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  • 295. At 3:15pm on 31 Oct 2009, idlegossiper wrote:

    285 Community Criminal, well this is all about cannabis of course, but one thing leads to another and it is the drug pushers job to see this happens. This year cannabis, a couple of years on and it's heroin. I wouldn't mind betting that Afghan heroin has killed more people in the UK than the number of our troops who have lost their lives in recent Afghanistan. Maybe that's why our Forces are out there.

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  • 296. At 3:33pm on 31 Oct 2009, Coilean wrote:

    294. Unfortunately for you, the politicians who sacked Professor Nutt were elected. The last time I checked, both Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown were Members of Parliament. If the point is that the Prime Minister is not elected to that specific post then that applies to all our previous PMs, given the nature of our representative democracy. We are not the US.

    Having been a Research Assistant early in my career I can safely say that I am familiar with research methods and the difference between giving advice and lobbbying for a change of policy. Are you?

    I think we will see how 'non-skewed' Professor Nutt's views on drugs are over the coming months, as he campaigns on a range of drugs-related issues and criticises Government in a number of areas where he happens to disagree.

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  • 297. At 3:34pm on 31 Oct 2009, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    This is the ACMD's mandate....

    "to keep under review the situation in the United Kingdom with respect to drugs which are being or appear to them likely to be misused and of which the misuse is having or appears to them capable of having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem, and to give to any one or more of the Ministers, where either Council consider it expedient to do so or they are consulted by the Minister or Ministers in question, advice on measures (whether or not involving alteration of the law) which in the opinion of the Council ought to be taken for preventing the misuse of such drugs or dealing with social problems connected with their misuse, and in particular on measures which in the opinion of the Council, ought to be taken

    * a) for restricting the availability of such drugs or supervising the arrangements for their supply;
    * b) for enabling persons affected by the misuse of such drugs to obtain proper advice, and for securing the provision of proper facilities and services for the treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare of such persons;
    * c) for promoting co-operation between the various professional and community services which in the opinion of the Council have a part to play in dealing with social problems connected with the misuse of drugs;
    * d) for educating the public (and in particular the young) in the dangers of misusing such drugs and for giving publicity to those dangers;
    * e) for promoting research into, or otherwise obtaining information about, any matter which in the opinion of the Council is of relevance for the purpose of preventing the misuse of such drugs or dealing with any social problem connected with their misuse."

    Alan Johnson said in his letter "it is not the job of the Chair of the Government's advisory Council to comment or initiate public debate on the policy framework for drugs"

    These are some points that the mandate raise that seem to differ from Alan Johnson and his predecessors views...

    'advice on measures (whether or not involving alteration of the law)'
    'b)for enabling persons affected by the misuse of such drugs to obtain proper advice, and for securing the provision of proper facilities and services for the treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare'
    'c) for promoting co-operation between the various professional and community services which in the opinion of the Council have a part to play in dealing with social problems connected with the misuse of drugs;'
    'd) for educating the public (and in particular the young) in the dangers of misusing such drugs and for giving publicity to those dangers;'
    It clearly states it is the job of the ACMD to initiate debate on drug awareness and too give scientific knowledge on the field. This is purely because the Gov. do not agree with Prof Nutt's expert knowledge, it is a sham.

    I have included a link for Mr Johnson to read since he doesn't seem to understand what the ACMD are suppose to do.

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  • 298. At 3:40pm on 31 Oct 2009, U14194857 wrote:

    To paraphrase the late George Carlin, ban mother's milk: it leads to everything!

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  • 299. At 3:42pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    What to stop that taliban growing opium? they did that in 2001 the reason we invaded...The taliban killed opium farmers...

    This is about cannabis Afghan produces some of the best in the world untill we got involved then it turned to opium taliban and war.

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  • 300. At 4:20pm on 31 Oct 2009, traducer wrote:

    Recomend Post 274
    if this is true then i retract my statement that Johnson had no choice.
    He should not have been asked to leave.

    However, must take issue wth most of the pro-posters here. i have smoked pot for 48 years since age 14. i would not want my kids to smoke. But they will at some point - so i would L|KE THE |NFORMATON ON THE STREET BE CLEAR PLEASE Mr GOVERNMENT M|NSTER so they can make informed choises.

    Now, i know many people who cocktail and because we are all human and ALL of us have highs and lows (no pun intended) they go a lttle crazy. 'oh hes off on one' etc etc.

    Now all of you are pretending this doesnt happen to you or your friends, ths is also disngenuous and devalues a lot of the reasonable points being made here. imho.

    Cocktailng in the young is disastrous - they lose responsibilty. Please be clearer - all of you.

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  • 301. At 4:23pm on 31 Oct 2009, busby2 wrote:

    First of all, I'm delighted that Professor Nutt has been sacked. He did exceed his brief and lost the confidence of ministers.

    Secondly, I have noticed an unwillingness to discuss let alone criticise the points made by users about the dangers of these drugs.

    Take # 6 for example:
    "One thing that Professor Nutt has overlooked may be due to him being a neuro scientist, concerned with the brain and damage to the brain. Cannabis does other damage too, to the lungs which no one seems to be discussing.
    I smoked weed and skunk weed for about 20 years. Last year my lung collapsed and I ended up in hospital, had a drain fitted and went home after 5 days, once my lung had re-inflated. 13 days later, my lung collapsed again and I was back in hospital, another drain fitted and same thing, lung back up, home, collapsed again, back in hospital and then, sent for surgery to establish the problem.
    The surgeon expected to find a problem and was surprised to find loads of holes on my lung, caused by smoking. They are called bulla, like blisters on the lungs. I had a bullectomy in May 2009 at Papworth hospital.
    There were others on the wards I met, all smoking weed or cocaine, all with collapsed lungs. The worst thing for me was, that I had been smoking for so long, like everyone else, I was give morphine to get rid of pain, and it would not work, because my body was so used to drugs".

    Moncur's Maraudeluders wrote in #32
    "I lived in Brixton in housing association property and found that all the extrovert interesting lively politically aware people were down the pub socialising and when I went round to the stoners houses there was a pleasant but essential pointless torpor and lack of conversation.

    Cannabis v Drinking is not and never will be on the same scale of things, the vast majority of people in this country enjoy a drink in one form or another, from dinner parties to just a few friends round or OUT and about socialising, they harm no one and continue a tradition of millennia.

    I have known thousands of drug users in the Cannabis, coke sense of drugs and have never met anyone who was improved by them except in their own eyes.

    If you legalise Cannabis; welcome to "Brave New World", sedated idiots degenerating as they go".

    These are the thoughts of those involved in drug use and who have seen the harm from smoking cannabis. I would suggest that they are the real experts on the dangers of cannabis, not Professor Nutt.

    Imagine for one moment that tobacco was a new product and that it was illegal to smoke but was available illegally at a high price. There would be smokers who would be advocating the legality of smoking who said that it did them no harm. But we all know if tobacco was illegal and expensive to obtain, the amount consumed per smoker would be far less than the amount consumed by the average smoker of today. We also know that the ill effects of smoking tobacco take many years to materialise and the rate of harm differs between individuals. It would so easy to imagine someone like Professor Nutt recommending that tobacco should be made a legal product as, with low tobacco use over a relatively short period, he would find little evidence that it caused serious harm. On the basis of evidence from someone like Professor Nutt, we would have legailised a new product like tobacco which we all know causes 100,000 premature deaths from smoking realted diseases every year in the UK.

    My concern that cannabis has not causeed that much harm for Professor Nutt to find is because the expense and illegality of the drug restricts the number of users and the amount they consume. If the drug was downgraded or became cheaper, the ill effects may well become all too obvious and by then it would be too late. #6 above showed the damage shoming cannabis does to the lungs - do we want to repeat this with perhaps hundreds of thousands of more victims?

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  • 302. At 4:24pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    296 coilean, we DID NOT elect this leadership, you saying so is an insult to everyone who felt helpless and betrayed when we were denied our democratic rights to choose who leads our country. and i personally believe our so called representative democracy and electoral system is incredibly flawed. more direct democracy and less party politics might make this a healthier nation.

    "Having been a Research Assistant early in my career I can safely say that I am familiar with research methods and the difference between giving advice and lobbbying for a change of policy. Are you?"

    ok... well as a matter of fact i am. i can also fly without wings and translate the as yet underdiscovered moon language.

    i have as much reason to believe your assertion as you do mine. its pointless to provide unqualifiable information on a blog, you may as well be a shop assistant trying to make a point.

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  • 303. At 4:30pm on 31 Oct 2009, therealdrneil wrote:

    As a fellow Scientist I see this latest development as another blow against logic, reason and a further step towards mumbo jumbo. All led by a spineless government who bow down to the media, the ill informed herd that is the general public with knee jerk responses to any 'hot' issues.
    Grow a set Gordon and actually be principled about something! Education of the public on basic Scientific method might actually be the way ; not sticking ones head in the sand and hoping it will all go away. At least Prof Nutt got off lightly. This government killed the last expert that spoke out, Dr. David Kelly.

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  • 304. At 4:41pm on 31 Oct 2009, Ian Glossop wrote:

    > Sir Michael Rawlins, said ministers had rejected advice in the past
    > and would continue to do so.

    > He said: "Governments may well have good reasons for taking an
    > alternative view... When that happens, then the government should
    > explain why it's ignoring the particular advice and I think that's
    > generally accepted as the principle."

    The Government can - and sometimes should - reject advisors' advice. There more factors going into drugs policy than just the relative risks of various substances and recreational activities.

    But if the Government does not consider the evidence and explain why some factors are given more weight than others - it only makes itself unauthoritative and possibly ridiculous.

    I hope some Select Committee will do its job and hold the Home Secretary to account - we know the House of Commons is not able to do this. He must be made to explain clearly and explicitly in detail why he overrode the ACMDs advice and why he effectively sacked its chairman.

    My expectation is that Alan Johnson won't - and my suspicion is that he won't because it was done for 'political image' reasons, which the Home Secretary judged to be more important than the UK having an effective drugs policy.

    The present Government is still trying to take us all for fools.

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  • 305. At 4:45pm on 31 Oct 2009, MaxGentle wrote:

    It seems to me that Professor Nutt is, as another poster has described him, "...a brave and honest man." In my view, his expert opinion is worth far more than the biased pronouncements of a 'here today, gone tomorrow' politician.

    I believe we are well served by knowledgeable, experienced and public-spirited academics like David Nutt. I hope the good Professor has tenure in his post; I am sure that Alan Johnson cannot rely on the same thing!

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  • 306. At 5:04pm on 31 Oct 2009, MrWonderfulReality wrote:

    The argument that Professor Nutt has put is backed by scientific research & evidence and is correct, BUT although there may be argument for lowering the clasification of cannabis & even legalising it on health grounds, there ARE other sides to the argument.

    In all, I am astounded at the level of degeneration across every spectrum of society & subject & the willingness that the media plays in maximising the degeneration by biasedly mis-informing and not providing full & complete relevent argument & information.

    The health issues are just ONE part of drugs and it is wholely just basically stupid to focus purely on this single characteristic of drugs, in this instant, namely cannabis.

    Trouble with cannabis is basically the same with most things.

    While many many people can do things in moderation or not damage themselves or others by their actions, or cost society huge social & monetary expense,

    there are also MANY MANY people who wouldnt know moderation if it was written on a rock with letters 50 miles wide & dropped on their head,
    & it is those people that society needs to be protected from,

    as well as from liberalists whos ideals and supposid expertise damage society.

    Alcohol is bad & causes massive individual & social problems at MASSIVE expense, crime, victims, reliance on benefits, ruined lives & familys, disturbed kids.

    From my own experiences and of those that I know who constantly use cannabis I know that cannabis use has EXACTLY the same effects on large parts of society.

    Comparing cannabis with alcohol is like comparing a.38 bullet with a.45 bullet, or a nuclear bomb with a neuton bomb.

    To say & argue that one particular element is slightly less damaging than a 2nd, and because the 2nd element is already legal, so why isnt this one & why shouldnt it be, is just prepostericity at an infinate level of stupidity.

    One may damage you less & in different ways, but most of the time the general outcome is the same- DISASTEROUS.

    I also am dismayed at the level of incompetance with politicians & supposid experts in their counter arguments that are so weak and also fail to include the FULL & WHOLE picture & reality of consequences in their argument. This is also propagated by weak narrow focussing of questioning by TV reporters & newscasters which is basically enforced by biased & ridiculous production & editing teams & isnt based upon common sense or informing of relative dangers/facts/evidence.

    I have noticed on BBC Question Time a huge drop in competance of panelists ability to answer questions inteligently & with real knowledge & fact of the matter answers backed with evidence & reality of consequence.

    I personally could answer most questions on most sunjects with much more relevent & wider substance, authority & reasoning than at least 75% of panelists.

    I could put better argument & counter argument for & against policy of BNP, Labour, Torys, Greens, environmentalists, historians, Liberty International, & businessmen/businesswomen, and I profess to be NO expert but what I do have is an open mind which bares no allegiance or affiliation to ANY given presented point of view.

    Our biased nationalist view on Germans used to include the word pompous, but my oh my the level of biased & PC pompousness in our own politicians, media & across the whole spectrum of professions & experts is just far & above & beyond any level of rationality.

    At the end of the day who cares if horse riding is more dangerous than cannabis, certainly not the mothers & familys of someone killed by a driver high on cannabis or cannabis smokers who go on to use & abuse other substances.

    Legalising cannabis, or making it less criminal, yet again puts the MANY victims of society at the bottom of the pile & guarantees to add to already outrageous numbers of victims as a result of ALL substance abuse, including alcohol.

    If you're one of a growing number of victims of liberalism & failed politics & policys & if the main partys do not consider you important or relevent, except in political spin & electioneering, then who do you turn to.

    Extremism is NOT just born out of immigration, racial or housing issues. Liberalist ideologial politicians, experts & professions need to understand this, especially in our multi-cultural society . Also I believe that the media also needs to recognise their part in being unrepresentative of reasoned common sense argument & reporting which also adds alienation to many sections of society and again creates resentment & leaves only one avenue for alienated citizens.

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  • 307. At 5:19pm on 31 Oct 2009, Ian wrote:

    David Nutt is a very serious man committed to the public good. he has taken his role with the ACMD very seriously on top of his research responsibilties. Unfortunately when the Home Office say they want the best scientific advice and an evidence based approach to drug policy they are lying.
    The government gets more money from Alcohol than it spends on the problems of alcohol and will not risk upsetting the alcohol industry even though the catastrophic harm alcohol causes is so clear.

    The slightest suggestion that alcohol should be considered as a controlled drug is anathema to the government (any government not just this one) so in no way will this idea be allowed to gain traction.
    Remember that alco-pops and 24 hr licensing was the response of the alcohol industry (with government support) to the popularity of rave culture in the early 90s when alcohol sales to the young were falling because they were taking MDMA and cannabis.

    At least David Nutt as a psycho-pharmacologist has other opportunities to make positive contributions to the public good. Maybe the other members of the ACMD who also possess specialist knowledge and skills should also resign and leave the drug policy debate to those with lots of emotion, opinion, prejudice and sound bites instead of considered and objective thought. After all the government doesn't really want them to actually do anything. Does it?

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  • 308. At 5:27pm on 31 Oct 2009, Mike Waller wrote:

    I have never taken drugs but have picked up from the media the fact that cannabis comes in many forms, some of which are far more potent than others. Selling it and other illegal drugs has produced an enormous untaxed industry. Could we not consider tackling the problem the other way round by having scientists develop a form of cannabis which gives acceptable levels of stimulation whilst being very low of health risks. This could be sold and taxed as a state monopoly, giving our cash-strapped country another income stream. Rules on driving and the operation of machinery would apply as with alchohol. Being able to make a purchase could require an official identity card which could be withdrawn for a period if an individual were found to have been using illegal drugs. This would have the merit of getting the great majority of users on side and allowing law and order resources to be focussed on those still beyond the pale.

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  • 309. At 5:28pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    301 busby2,
    "First of all, I'm delighted that Professor Nutt has been sacked. He did exceed his brief and lost the confidence of ministers."

    you're delighted? i will concede, that in a strictly professional sense, and in the context of being a government advisor, the tone in which he is speaking out is controversial.
    but this wasn't sedition or slander, he was expressing frustration over the fact that the government had completely ignored the scientific evidence and the classification advice, both of which prof. nutt was entitled and better equiped to comment on! and he was sacked for it. ludicrous.

    "Secondly, I have noticed an unwillingness to discuss let alone criticise the points made by users about the dangers of these drugs."

    the stastical and scientific evidence suggests that at least cannabis is no more dangerous a wide variety of legal activities and substances. as with any one of these activities or substances, ones experience of them is almost always subjective. its unfortunate that not everyone can take pleasure from everything, and its tragic that some lives are ruined by certain things.
    however, as previously mentioned i believe the inequality with which some things are approached creates an hypocrity when lines are drawn.

    the references you drew from this blog have been heavily criticised because they are factually or deliberatively unsound. while not seeking to diminish the suffering of those who may genuinely have been hurt by the abuse of drugs, i think an objective scrutinisation of their situations would probably reveal deeper and more responsible social or economic factors. and being more cynical, frequently a lack of responsibility.

    safe to say i heavily disagree with you.

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  • 310. At 5:36pm on 31 Oct 2009, Coilean wrote:

    302. As regards your first point, this is precisely what I did not say. Re-read my post. Our MPs are elected, including Alan Johnson and Gordon Brown, our Prime Ministers are not. Personally, I would prefer a directly elected Head of Government (and Head of State for that matter) but that system does not exist in the UK. As for Professor Nutt, he wasn't elected by anyone which is one reason interestingly why he shouldn't have the final say on drugs policy.

    As for an ex-postie such as Johnson making decisions on policy, well isn't that the nature of true democracy? Ever heard of juries being composed of ordinary people from all walks of life because that is felt to be fairer than having things decided by a group of only lawyers with PhDs? Or your local authority elected members deciding on the level of the Council Tax, after having heard the advice of officers? This principle is at the heart of our democracy, despite its other failings, and I'm concerned that you don't seem to understand it. Maybe there's a need for more research...

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  • 311. At 5:41pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    and i forgot to add, busby2, that so explicitly placing the words 'ministers' and 'confidence' together, is a risky business. i thought it was the ministers who were rebuilding our confidence in them after the events of recent times.
    this affair certainly hasnt helped that interest, and to defend the governments virtue in this regard is laughable.

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  • 312. At 5:42pm on 31 Oct 2009, John1948 wrote:

    There is a fine line between being asked to provide information and even expressing an opinion about how that information should be used to form a policy and actually making the decision that formulates the policy and puts it into action.

    In most well run organisations an adviser or subordinate should expect to have their views seriously considered. If the decision is not to their liking they can restate their opinion, but a more sensible thing would be to seek an explanation why the decision went against them. Only then can they seriousl question the decision. A leaked letter seeking clarification would be much more powerful than Prof Nutt's attempts at 'foot stamping'. It would have been embaressing to the government to explain their reasons and worse if they did not choose to reply.

    We need advisers who are prepared to shake the tree, but they need to do it in a more subtle way. All he has done is make sure that in future more timid advisers will be appointed. Those who want to use this to bash Labour can do so, but should not expect too much from any incoming government.

    By the way this is not really a drugs issue at all. I cannot imagine people saying, "Oh good, I had better not smoke skunk because it is a class B drug. I only take class C drugs." The real issue is the line between advising and policy making. After all if we listened to advisers, measures to combat climate change would affect our lives much more dramatically than they have. We would be a nation littered with wind farms. But policy made by politicians has decreed otherwise.

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  • 313. At 5:43pm on 31 Oct 2009, IRcutekitten wrote:

    306. At 5:04pm on 31 Oct 2009, MrWonderfulReality,

    You basically hit the nail on the head in your first sentence, and then went off on a wild tangent.

    "The argument that Professor Nutt has put is backed by scientific research & evidence and is correct".

    There you have it. End of debate. He was there as a SCIENTIFIC adviser. Not as a political adviser. He was doing his job. He was "sacked" for doing his job properly and telling the truth!

    Still, the rest of your post seems to be filled with nonsense about this being PC liberalism or something. It isn't. It's called being realistic. That's just how science is, it doesn't chase political leanings all too readily, it deals with reality, and empirical evidence. Alcohol is, in fact, dangerous. Cannabis is, in fact, less dangerous. All things carry risk. You can moan about these facts all you want, it won't make them any less true.

    This isn't a matter of whether certain drugs should be legalised or not; it's a matter of whether we should have policy based upon reality and proper scientific inquiry, or upon the dream-world that politicians seem to think exists up in their ivory towers.

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  • 314. At 5:44pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Legalising cannabis, or making it less criminal, yet again puts the MANY victims of society at the bottom of the pile & guarantees to add to already outrageous numbers of victims as a result of ALL substance abuse, including alcohol.

    keeping cannabis illegal generates the climate for victims as you put it by keeping a criminal record of the user that will tarnish them for the rest of their life make them a victim also. and is indeed why sink estates have such a low regard for government policy?

    What did the world do pre prohibition when it was everywhere? or are we saying that only industrial hemp existed before prohibition and new stronger cannabis is the result of prohibition ?

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  • 315. At 6:04pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    310, ok sorry if i misinterpreted your post, but.. while we do elect our MPs, we are not in that action promoting a head of government. the party chooses its leaders and then we are presented with the opportunity at general elections to choose the countries leaders. the HUGE flaw in that system is that it has allowed Gordon Brown to assume the leadership without our consent, it gives the party too much freedom to stray from democratic principles over prolonged terms of power. i agree we should directly elect our leaders, and i think every general election we're getting sandbagged by this system.
    i also think that some of the 'principles' at the heart of democracy you mentioned have become paltry gratuities to promote the illusion of a genuine democracy. the reality of today is that far too much power is centralised in whitehall.
    the jury factor you raised is part of the judicial system, rather seperate from the legislative bodies, with which i currently have a problem.

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  • 316. At 6:12pm on 31 Oct 2009, Have your say Rejected wrote:


    'What did the world do pre prohibition when it was everywhere?'

    Well obviously society collapsed, without these laws people would have taken far too many drugs and would have been so 'off their faces' society couldn't have functioned. Wait a minute at the time of Great Britain's height as the worlds foremost empire we didn't have these laws, and in fact we were trading in some of these drugs...

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  • 317. At 6:17pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    and coilean, regarding your supposition as to the true nature of a democracy, yes it is wonderful that any individual from any walk of life can involve themselves in politics and perhaps one day lead their nation. in essence, it is beautiful. in reality it has a few flaws in the sense that the very fact can be disasterous, re every democratically administration that was disasterous.

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  • 318. At 6:29pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

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

    something to do while 'come dance' is on search for a movie called 'the acid eaters' the is a 'weed documentary' from 1970 packed with it simply called Weed well worth a watch to see how attitudes have changed.

    The official's attitude is very unusual to say the least. were will the grouse live was the main concern...

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  • 320. At 7:00pm on 31 Oct 2009, Euforiater wrote:

    This debate originally started with the blog "Scientists versus politicians" and I think here lies the most important point which seems to be, deliberately I think, drowned out by some hysterical posts. I don't deny that I'm in favour of legalising cannabis but I think the more important point is the deliberate abandonment of science by the government in favour of spin. That's what Professor Nutt was complaining about, and it's a very serious point. If it starts here (and "WMDgate" shows this isn't the first time), where will it lead?
    As for the cannabis side of things - how on earth can people not realise you're not preventing people using it? All you're doing is giving the business to crime.
    We've had a few sorrowful tales, etc for which anyone would offer sympathy but frankly, in terms of this discussion they are completely irrelevant. A few of these stories will be true and genuinely cannabis-caused. Others will be fabrications by interested parties (and party could indeed be the operative word). I'd love to be able to follow these sign-ins to see who is really posting them, but glad they are anonymous. It's a price we have to pay for free speech I suppose. We know the price Professor Nutt paid for using his free speech.
    Some will be true but not cannabis-caused (it's interesting about how easily a bad label initially given to something is then instantly linked by the human mind to find an easy scapegoat, it's gone on throughout history from witches being responsible for plagues to the bad science behind the discredited MMR jab scare). This is how propaganda works, and several people are attempting to do this on this very blog, throwing mud and doubt wherever they can. The gullible will take it in, so job done. The pursuit of science removes this rubbish so should take priority over political posturing.
    Essentially cannabis has been badmouthed for decades by those who either want a scapegoat for something, or a direct competitor (as we well know by now, the alcohol, cigarette and pharmaceutical industries, but there are more). The government's upgrading to class B came because of the fear of those groups that the next stage was legalisation and an end to their monopolies. Some pressure came from newspapers or possibly party funders and the government thought it would get away with it. Now it's all blown up in their face and I for one am delighted.

    There are 60 million people in this country and there must be a solid percentage of regular cannabis users, so it's highly unlikely there aren't some people it would be bad for. How many die early due to chocolate bingeing and the associated heart disease? Peanuts kill 6-10 a year in this country as I understand. But that's the point, you try it if you want then if it doesn't agree with you then don't try it again. Nobody wants it like school milk, it's an adult choice. I happen to like what it's done for me. The socialisation aspect will come when we can take it out in public. So legalise it and get it off the streets, it can't be good for kids. But more importantly, if you ask for scientific advice, take it!

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  • 321. At 7:31pm on 31 Oct 2009, JTomlin wrote:

    40. carrie

    Get it straight before you jump into the debate. It is smoking cannabis long-term that has been associated with collapsed lungs. The side-effects of long-term ecstasy use have actually been hardly even INVESTIGATED.

    The criminalisation of both was more a matter of PR and giving the drug enforcement people jobs than anything to do with public good.

    I have yet to see any hard evidence that criminalisation reduces use. Look at the US experience with prohibition of alcohol. None of this has any scientific backing with politicians in a large number of countries do their best to hide it since they can use it for scare tactics. The idea that alcohol increases one's political awareness but cannabis turns people into zombies is a fair example of this.

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  • 322. At 8:37pm on 31 Oct 2009, slightlyallthetime wrote:

    It seems that every day I get up and watch the news there is something that makes my head drop,accompanied by the thought "just how stupid are these people".Today was no exception with the news of David Nutts sacking,he was reporting the findings of a study into the effects of cannabis and was telling the truth,something most politicians seem incapable of,for his honesty he was sacked by a government that itself is the biggest drug pusher in the country,creaming off millions of pounds in revenue from alcohol and tobacco sales,the idea that the government is somehow concerned about the nations health is just a joke,the proliferation of alcohol outlets is testament to the extent that the government will go to in order to push their drug,every little corner shop,supermarkets,off licences,pubs etc,alcohol cans and bottles stacked up in you local shop for all the kids to see,alongside the cigarettes which are next to the sweets,for all the kids to see,but alcohol is the one they're pushing the most,resulting in the most awful consequences,a policeman told me recently that he estimated 50 per cent of police time was taken up in alcohol related incidents,our hospitals have a huge percentage of alcohol related admissions,all paid for I presume by the revenues from the drugs that are responsible for the incidents and the illness's in the first place.
    I can remember reading somewhere that the literal translation of the word Haschish in Turkish is "destroyer of our nations youth",and I would like to put forward the proposition that "Alcohol is the new Haschish",there is more than one way to "destroy" the nations youth and all that David Nutt was saying was that cannabis is the safer way,100,000 deaths from tobacco per year,50,000 deaths from alcohol per year,and how many deaths from smoking cannabis per year,I think you'll find it's none,but this lot in government wont listen,and nor will the next lot,and people will continue to smoke cannabis regardless of the laws,and those who choose to smoke cannabis will buy it from dealers,some of whom will offer other more dangerous drugs as well,and some young people will fall into the trap of dependency and on it goes,and all because the government cant see the wood for the trees.

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  • 323. At 8:41pm on 31 Oct 2009, pdavvers wrote:

    Alan Johnson's action re Professor Nutt ( unpaid adviser) is yet another example of the fact that labour know without doubt that they are in their last few months of Government and are engaged in a "scorched earth policy". There was a similar labour strategy by labour in 1978/9 and they sure succeeded then in leaving the incoming Tory Govt with a huge mess to sort out. History is repeating itself.

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  • 324. At 8:54pm on 31 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    slightlyallthetime #322.

    excellent 'rant', only one thing to add: "Haschish" -- I read that's a corruption of an Arabic word with the same root (etymology) as our word 'assassin'.

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  • 325. At 8:55pm on 31 Oct 2009, Jaknet wrote:

    I would like to ask everyone here who is taking the time to post to PLEASE, PLEASE take the same amount of time and write to your MP saying the same things.

    It's as easy to write to your MP as it is to write in this blog... In fact it's even EASIER as you don't have to sign in or make an account.

    There is a wonderful site here which by putting in your postcode will show you your relevant MP and then all you do is click on their name and it opens up with a type in box... just like here and you can fill it in... preview your message and then click send knowing it will go to your MP and you "should" get a reply back.

    PLEASE if you really feel passionate enough about this farce to post here then I can see no reason for you NOT to send the same info to your MP.

    Typing here is getting a small amount of coverage especially as a lot of people here already feel the same way (what's the business speak phrase.. Preaching to the choir...), sending the same info direct to your MP will maybe... just maybe do a bit more.

    Get typing and get your voices heard... PLEASE !!

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  • 326. At 9:18pm on 31 Oct 2009, ClinicalPsychiatrist wrote:

    While this debate continues at the political level let no one mistakenly believe that cannabis is a benign substance and not worthy of its reclassification. I have worked for more ten years in a busy inner inner city psychosis ward; there is a very high incidence of regular cannabis use amongst "schizophrenic" individuals (up to 60% in my experience), and it is very common to see such individuals' recovery set back by further use - often on the wards. Furthermore there are a range of reasons why commonly used tests to detect cannabis provide false negative results. The scientific literature has to catch up with this practical reality but a search on this subject within BBC Health will show the skeptic that this has begun and is seen as a very real issue. I support the decision to reclassify cannabis, the government got a complex decision right.

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  • 327. At 9:19pm on 31 Oct 2009, GordonThought wrote:

    I hear alot in this debate about the need to 'send a message to young people'. I'm a young person. I've grown up almost entirely under this government. I have never taken drugs, but I know people who have.

    Let me tell you what the message actually currently is.

    We are told not to take drugs. By teachers, parents and media. Many times. That they will lead us on a road to despair, financial ruin, homelessness, and a number of other evils.

    But of course, a few idiots always ignore advice like that and go and take some anyway. Typically cannabis; its well known as a 'starter' drug. Then they notice something a bit strage; they are actually more in control, less violent, and generally having a better time than their friends and parents who were binging on a legal drug. I'm talking, of course, about alcohol. Other, more sensible people, notice this too. They decide they wouldnt mind a bit of that. And so it spreads.

    There is an often missed issue embedded in this: if you lie to young people about the extent of the damage and you get caught, they will ignore the ENTIRE message. Everything. Noone I know listened to the various lectures on drugs we got, in the end. Why? They were all factually wrong. We all know alcohol is worse. For your health, and more importantly for your behaviour and control. We see the effect the substances have, on our schoolmates. On our friends. What Nutt said was no news to us. Maybe we need more young politicians.

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  • 328. At 9:31pm on 31 Oct 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    325 jaknet, thank you very much for that link, i did indeed take the opportunity to write to my MP. i'll only say my local MP is a Conservative, whom i support, but thus far have been sadly disappointed in their failure to support Prof. Nutt.

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  • 329. At 9:37pm on 31 Oct 2009, Circumseed wrote:

    Professor Nutt is sacked for talking sense. If scientific evidence has no effect on government decisions, what does?

    Is appeasement of some of the planet's lowest quality newspapers driving policy?

    Why are those who are most ignorant of the facts regarding drug use also those who legislate against it?

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  • 330. At 9:51pm on 31 Oct 2009, Robin wrote:

    If I've got this right, the scientific evedence suggests that cannabis should be Class C; Professor Nutt states that Cannabis and ecstasy are less harmful than alcohol and tobacco; and many, including the Liberals, believe that drug classification should be based on scientific evidence rather than political posturing.

    So the Liberals would support alcohol and tobacco being made class A drugs - or was that just political posturing?

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  • 331. At 10:22pm on 31 Oct 2009, busby2 wrote:


    Thanks for the link. I have sent a letter to my Conservative MP saying this useless Government has for once made the right decision in sacking Prof Nutt. Cannabis should only be legalised in tablet form for medical reasons, for example, MS.

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  • 332. At 10:32pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    ClinicalPsychiatrist do you now that schizophrinia is a genetic fault in the endocannabinoid structures in the front of the brain which in turn cause the brain structures in the frontal lobes not form as they should.? which would meen its genetic and as a result of understanding this companies like GWP have spent millions on finding this cannabinoid to bring about balance in schizophrenic people.

    As someone stated in another post cannabis use has gone up recorded cases of schizophrenic for the population has droped

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  • 333. At 10:57pm on 31 Oct 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    cannabis anti depresants.

    Endocannabinoid Signaling in Midbrain Dopamine Neurons: More than Physiology?

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  • 334. At 10:59pm on 31 Oct 2009, Jaknet wrote:


    Your views are yours, but I have to ask... do you really think it's correct to sack someone for telling the truth.

    Regardless of your personal views on drugs. This is basically this issue here. The Prof. Nutt was sacked for telling the government the plain truth, which the governments own figures support as the truth, yet he was still sacked because it did not fit the party line.

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  • 335. At 11:08pm on 31 Oct 2009, Jaknet wrote:


    Just to add... Where did he call for cannabis to be legalised. He pointed out the truth that alcohol and tobacco are MORE harmful than cannabis and that there are more deaths per year from horse riding than from taking ecstasy.

    He never said that cannabis is safe or that it should be legal.... Mainly that the drugs should be ranked by genuine harm, NOT by just political desire and that alcohol and tobacco should not be separated from being ranked with other harmful drugs.

    Sorry you seem to have the wrong idea of what's going on here.

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  • 336. At 11:41pm on 31 Oct 2009, blimeynotagain wrote:

    105: rockhallfame. Yes, I agree with you. The desperate last acts of a bunch of spiteful weirdos will at very least be interesting. Let's just hope they're more amusing than dangerous, and that at least some of them are directed within Labour itself and not at the country.

    A quick aside: as you know, you can tell a lot about someone by their handshake. In the summer of 2007 I shook Gordon Brown's hand (he offered his hand first and it was unavoidable). It was, without exaggeration, the lamest excuse for a handshake I have ever experienced. A bit like holding a room temperature raw pork fillet. To this day I wonder a) what that handshake makes people think of the UK and b) what on earth he thinks he's achieving with it.

    I have read all of your posts and thoroughly enjoyed them. Have you spent any time over at the Paul Mason blog? I think you'd very much like it, especially the contributions from Jericoa and bookhimdano.

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  • 337. At 00:17am on 01 Nov 2009, TheEnglishman wrote:

    20. At 6:17pm on 30 Oct 2009, WrekinAir wrote:
    Oh for goodness sake - the crassly uneducated politicians and the hyper-sensitive civil service machine teaming up because somebody has exposed their thinking as unfounded, non-credible and wooly?

    When will we get rid of this Stalinist attitude to contradiction and criticism which is endemic in Whitehall regardless of which bunch of idiots are supposedly in charge?

    I look forward to the MoD civil servants' (and by implication the ministers') attempts to rubbish, ignore and bury the Nimrod report so they appear whiter than white!

    The BBC are ignoring Nimrod - bet this reply gets pulled, other mentions elsewhere have.

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  • 338. At 00:49am on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    cheers blimeynotagain, i was not previously familiar with Paul Mason's blog! laughed my head off over the handshake issue, its curiously all too frequently true, limp handshakes from limp individuals.

    i would love to know the stats on reported incidents of alcohol related crimes and medical emergencies on this fine halloween. directly compared to drugs of all kinds. it'll make for interesting reading, and IT'D BE GREAT IF THE BBC PUBLISHED THEM IN LIGHT OF THE CURRENT DEBATE!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 339. At 01:04am on 01 Nov 2009, rpneil wrote:

    Why am I not surprised? Sigh... if anything more a labour than conservative supporter too. What is the point of seeking and paying for expert advice if you don't heed it?!!! This is far from the only example, just a particularly blatant one.

    Message to all politicians. If you fear the advice don't seek it. Don't expect scientists paid with public money to keep quiet about their work. They are only doing their job making their work public. Having saught it don't shoot the messenger. That's good way to find yourself on the dole queue. Where frankly most of you belong anyway.


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  • 340. At 01:10am on 01 Nov 2009, TheEnglishman wrote:

    I haven't seen much discussion of the statistics on drug related burglaries as opposed to Horse Riding related ones. Anyone know anything about these?

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  • 341. At 01:12am on 01 Nov 2009, busby2 wrote:


    "Just to add... Where did he call for cannabis to be legalised".

    I'm sorry if you got that impression from my post. Some drugs which are harmful can have some medical benefits and that is why I said that cannabis should only be legalised in tablet form for medical reasons, for example, MS. I did not mean to imply that Prof Nutt had said it should be legalised.

    The way most cannabis is consumed is by smoking and smoking anything is dangerous to health. Studies have shown that smoking cannabis is far more dangerous than smoking a cigarette. It is foolhardy to downgrade a drug which has got stronger in recent years and when we don't have the long term evidence about prolonged use over years or decades. It is often difficult to prove cause and effect, so being very cautious is the right course of action.

    Nutt's approach was cavalier - for example, his comparison of the dangers of ecstasy with horse riding was absolutley bonkers and completly out of place with prudent behaviour. I'm surprised he wasn't sacked earlier.

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  • 342. At 03:26am on 01 Nov 2009, bringbackliberty wrote:

    wow. look at the overwhelming response from the ummm uhhh PEOPLE here. this is blatant hypocrisy falling back on old ideologies based on nothing but lies lies and more lies. This statement makes me sick:

    The government's desire to use the class of a particular drug to send out a signal to potential users or dealers does not sit comfortably with the claim that the primary objective of the classification system is to categorise drugs according to the comparative harm associated with their misuse.

    uhhh..What? Let me paraphrase that for you all..the government's desire to classify drugs is irrelevant in regards to harm associated and shall in no way be altered if it conflicts with policy and takes money out of our pockets..since legalization of cannabis would result in the eventual legalization of hemp as well, the politicians heavy investments in oil, textiles, pharmaceuticals along with the big money pay outs from alcohol and tobacco lobbyists would disappear overnight. Not to mention the fact that if marijuana were suddenly no longer a crime, they could no longer complain about overcrowded prisons and they wouldnt have anything to use to overshadow what's really destroying society which is alcohol, since by way of comparison, most people dont use dangerous drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth. Why, they would be exposed for the hypocrites they are and people would realize that the only reason marijuana is a "gateway" drug is because they keep it on the black market and it is therefore sold along side the harmful ones. Imagine how different the world would be if Jesus had said "the cannabis is good" instead of "the wine is nice"

    Face it folks, until the power of love exceeds the love of power, pot will NEVER be legal

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  • 343. At 03:36am on 01 Nov 2009, bringbackliberty wrote:

    Oh and just another touch of hypocrisy id like to mention. Michael Phelps multi Gold medal olympian and all around hero, crucified for one picture of him hitting a bong. Endorsements pulled, forced to publicly apologize and suspended from the US Olympic team for smoking pot.

    The hypocritical paradox? Lance Armstrong, repeat winner of multiple bike races including the Tour de France and all around hero, survivor of cancer. Gets a big fat endorsement package from Anheiser-Bush to promote the deadliest and most readily available known carcinogen in the world. And so again, liberty is struck down by the fascist regime of those who obtained the power and will do anything to keep it.

    May God have mercy on you all

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  • 344. At 07:20am on 01 Nov 2009, Whato1986 wrote:

    @ 340 TheEnglishman

    "I haven't seen much discussion of the statistics on drug related burglaries as opposed to Horse Riding related ones. Anyone know anything about these?"

    I saw this comment and thought I ought to reply to it.

    Hmm, you say "drug related burglaries as opposed to Horse Riding related ones" You don't specify which drug, the sacked chief drugs advisor DID specify, he specified ecstasy. He said that you were more likely to get harmed horse riding than you were from ecstasy, which is TRUE. Read his council's report and data please.

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  • 345. At 07:26am on 01 Nov 2009, arnie wrote:

    I'm 40 and I smoke weed. Big whooop. Never been unemployed. Have a wife, kids, mortage and a car. get up at 6.30am and go to bed at 10pm. I brush my teeth three times a day and always wear clean pants.

    Please explain in words a hippy can understand. Why am I am criminal. Oh yeah, it was the first bit.

    Its a bit of a joke really I can pop over the road and providing I have enough money I can buy 10 bottles of vodka and if I choose to, kill myself. Yet when I have to go and get some weed it costs me $20 for a couple of grams and could result in a night down the police station and criminal record. This would lead to a fail on my CRB check and loss of employment.

    I thought we'd hit a bit of an understanding with class C. People we're happy to grow a few plants. The weed was cheaper and of a better quality. Now we are back at class b and the only real winner I can see is organised crime.

    Nice one Gordon and The Sun. the Sensible prime minister spoon fed by sensible journalism

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  • 346. At 08:26am on 01 Nov 2009, slightlyallthetime wrote:

    So if the government are so anti drugs,and lets face it,they are only anti the drugs that they dont make any money on,maybe they should consider banning all drug related culture in our society,this would include the works of Shakespeare,the poems of Wordsworth,Kingsleys Water Babies,Lewis Carroll's Alice,Louis Armstrongs jazz,the Beatles music,Bob Dylans music and countless others that I cant think of offhand.Surely society would be a much better place with all this "awful" drug influenced culture removed from it and we could all bask in some vacuous world,devoid of entertainment.
    Perhaps the next time a member of the government is watching a Shakespeare play,they should reflect on the fact that he was influenced by Cannabis,and the school children reciting Wordsworth's Daffodils in class or reading the wonderful Water Babies should be told that these works were influenced by drugs,and the wonderful psychedelic fantasy by Lewis Carroll,copiously reproduced in book form for each generation of children and also filmed many times.And surely we can do without Louis Armstrong's fantastic jazz,he who smoked grass every single day of his adult life,and what a dull life it would be without the Beatles and Sgt Pepper,regularly voted the most influential record of all time and only really in existence because of Cannabis and LSD,turned on by Bob Dylan,the Beatles then came up with their most memorable work,and it will stand the test of time,just like Shakespeare,Wordsworth,Carroll etc.
    I wonder what Gordon Brown is doing this morning,maybe whistling along to a Beatles song on the radio,after lunch maybe a quick flick through the works of Wordsworth to relax a little and this evening a visit to a west end theatre to watch a Shakespeare play.

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  • 347. At 09:33am on 01 Nov 2009, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    'I would like to ask everyone here who is taking the time to post to PLEASE, PLEASE take the same amount of time and write to your MP saying the same things.'

    That was the 1st thing I did when I heard about Prof Nutt, also created an E-petition at for what good it would do...

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  • 348. At 09:57am on 01 Nov 2009, legrambo wrote:

    The truth will out! For too long responsible cannabis users have been denigrated and villified by this Government against all of the scientific evidence. Who can deny that alcohol and nicotine cause far more damage in this country than cannabis? Thats what the Government will have us believe but it flies in the face of scientific evidence. At LONG LAST we have a scientist who is prepared to stand up and tell us the facts.

    I am glad that the BBC has had the courage to air this debate. Last year I was interviewed and filmed for the BBC Horizon programme 'The evil weed?' I spent 3 hours being interviewed by the producer and another 4 hours next morning being filmed and interviewed only to be subsequesntly told that the material could not be used due to legal issues! I asked if ANY of the 'pro cannabis' interviews would be used and was told unfortunately NO. How can that be right? All I did was to describe how it feels to be a fifty year old father of three who had never been in trouble in my life before, job, mortgage etc, facing having 6 police officers turn up to search my family home because I chose to use a herbal relaxant at the end of a day. I am now criminalised,having been arrested, locked in a cell for 7 hours, fingerprinted, mugshot, DNA'd etc and yet I have spent my entire life trying to be an honest upright citizen. There are many thousands of others out there just like me! Alan Taylor a respected science teacher for 10 years, Ofsted rated as excellent, lost his job and career for having 4 cannabis plants in his home last year for example.

    Current UK drug laws are in tatters, I am so glad that at last the truth has come out.

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  • 349. At 10:25am on 01 Nov 2009, FedupwithGovt wrote:

    We will be burning books soon - absolute disgrace!!!!

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  • 350. At 10:29am on 01 Nov 2009, Euforiater wrote:

    Just one more message for those still susceptible to the scaremongering tactics peddled by the big companies and their tabloid-reading drones. You know the ones I mean - "it'll be the end of civilisation as we know it if we legalise".
    In my youth I went on holiday to California with two friends and we drove through Death Valley. As we approached the pass leading to it here were signs on the road telling drivers to "switch off your air conditioning for the next 20 miles" (to protect the engine from overheating). So we gave the air con a quick blast to cool the inside of the car and drove on without air conditioning. On we drove for mile after mile as the car slowly heated up. Pretty soon our shirts came off as the heat and humidity in the car increased. "Let's open the window", said the others. I insisted that the windows be kept closed because we couldn't use air conditioning for the next 12 miles or so and it got hotter and hotter. Finally after 15 more minutes or so of roasting ourselves one of us "cracked" and wound a window down. The sudden blast of air felt icy cool to our sweat-soaked skin and there was major laughter all around. We left the window open from then on.
    This, I believe, is a perfect metaphor for cannabis prohibition. When it's finally legalised there will be a final short tabloid-driven period of consternation then all will settle down and ten years later we'll be thinking "was WAS all that about"?

    It worked for Holland.

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  • 351. At 10:43am on 01 Nov 2009, Mike Waller wrote:

    I again ask why can we not have Government paid scientists develop very low risk forms of cannabis and ecstasy that would carry clear health warnings, be sold at licensed retail outlets and reasonably taxed? The would bring the great majority of users "on-side", cripple a major criminal industry, and allow law and order resources to be targetted at the many drugs that would remain illegal.

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  • 352. At 11:42am on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    What has this also said to ALL our youth about the importance of education when a uneducated man can dismiss educated people in favour of hysteria.


    Its no wonder our children are lost wander the streets drink to much take coke n E.

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  • 353. At 11:47am on 01 Nov 2009, realnameornot wrote:

    I am always disappointed when scientific fact is sacrificed on the altar of moralistic politics. It feels cheap, dirty and infantile.

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  • 354. At 11:54am on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Mike DR Nutt has created or is in the process of making a pill to replace the intoxication of alcohol. It works the same way as alcohol without the addiction and side effects or the morning after and has an antidote that can be given and within seconds the person is straight again.

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  • 355. At 11:57am on 01 Nov 2009, ianMentalman wrote:

    12. At 6:03pm on 30 Oct 2009, Khadrim wrote:
    .... They think he is wrong and have sacked him. if you agree or disagree you can make your views clear at the polling station.

    This kind of thinking is part of the problem. The evidence on drug safety IS NOT AN ISSUE FOR VOTING ON! It is a real issue to be based on evidence not politics. No matter who is in power next the pharmacology and pathology of drug use will remain the same and that is why we have scientific advisory boards.

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  • 356. At 12:08pm on 01 Nov 2009, Srsweenie wrote:

    "He told Sky News: "You cannot have a chief adviser... campaigning against government decisions." "

    And surely, you cannot have a politician campaigning against scientific evidence from an educated adviser whom you employ to investigate such matters.

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  • 357. At 12:15pm on 01 Nov 2009, Reaper_of_Souls wrote:

    What's new?
    Politics is based on lies and telling people what they want to hear.
    If enough people tell the same lies often enough, they can be accepted as the truth and become the perceived wisdom.

    As such facts always risk conflicting with the deception.

    Just another case of shooting the messenger.

    Unfortunately until enough people are prepared to look at the facts and make up their own minds, rather than just deciding to believe the most convenient thing their told and then vote accordingly, politicians will continue to attempt to sell us what they think will earn votes rather than telling us the truth, and will seek to marginalise those that challenge their version of the "truth".
    Perhaps when we punish politicians for lying to us, they'll consider stopping; after all if you're found to lie in other job applications you can often be summarily dismissed.

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  • 358. At 12:25pm on 01 Nov 2009, Baggins wrote:

    I'm rather pleased that Professor David Nutt has been sacked because it brings the debate up. All Alan Johnson has done has achieved and proved beyond any doubt is this government can not be trusted. However I'm certain that Professor Nutt will have no problem finding a suitable post as he has shown himself to be a man of honour who speaks the truth. As an election looms I'm just as certain that there will be many politicians who will find themselves unemployed without the same credibility as Professor Nutt.

    Real experts on this subject have known for years that stories of cannabis being a factor to mental health have been grossly exaggerated and in comparison to alcohol brain damage cannabis is relatively harmless. However what isn't harmless is the effects of smoking, as the government are anti-smoking their campaign should be based on that backed up with scientific evidence. Oh they are not anti-smoking nor anti-alcohol just anti-social.

    I believe that our drug laws are tied with the USA with an international agreement and have been for years until they move on this it's unlikely we ever will. But what we are talking about is a plant that grows just about anywhere with soil politicians seem to forget that and no matter what politicians say or who they sack they will never stop those who want to grow or smoke the stuff.

    Most smokers are peace loving and chilled that's why they are invisible unlike drunks.

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  • 359. At 12:27pm on 01 Nov 2009, dfspace wrote:

    Never had faith in this government. They curtail freedom of speech and deal viciously with experts to dare to voice a different opinion to their own - Dr Kelly and now Professor Nutt. Never mind, this Government has only a few months left to destroy Britain. Their ship is sinking with the water up past the gunwhales.

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  • 360. At 12:31pm on 01 Nov 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    I have made two important points in the previous blog but here is a third.


    We do not grow hemp in the uk or indeed anywhere in the EU in any quantity.

    Hemp can be used for anything from paper to clothing to plastics to food to bio fuel.

    A feild of hemp can be harvested twice a year and yeild for times as much paper as a feild of trees and a feild of trees can only be harvested once every ten years minimum. The paper made from hemp is also superior to that made from paper and all paper was made from it until the begining of the 20th centuary. The magna carter the US bill of rights were all printed on hemp paper.

    Hemp can not get you high and cannot be used recreationally because the breed uses all its energy and nutrients to produce long fiberous stems rather than THC.

    If we got our farmers to grow hemp we would revolutionise the UK farming industry and create manufacturing jobs and start exporting.

    On a international scale we could save the rain forests! A very large percentage of wood taken form the amazon is made in to paper just because no hemp is available.

    So again like with medical marijuana there is no reason for it to be banned so you can only assume their are monetary interests at work here.

    Doesn't the government want to save the rain forests? Does the government not want to fight global warming by saving the lungs of our planet?

    Apprently not they would rather accept funding from those who have interests in the international logging industry.

    So once again it comes down to MONEY.

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  • 361. At 12:37pm on 01 Nov 2009, peejkerton wrote:

    Is it really any surprise that the Government are now ignoring scientific advice? David Kelly was ignored and look where that went.

    Its a shocking indictment of this Government that they ignore scientific evidence, absolutely shocking. What hope do we have for science in this country anymore?

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  • 362. At 12:38pm on 01 Nov 2009, yellow-sub wrote:

    Nobody seems to be seeing this as it is about gang-culture, the government is the largest cartel, making money out of sanctioning two of the most dangerous drugs on the planet. Woe betide anyone who tries to sell anything else on their turf.

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  • 363. At 12:59pm on 01 Nov 2009, SteveSwimmer1 wrote:

    Dear Mr. Johnson and your fellow travelers:

    It appears, with your politically motivated (over Science) marijuana stance, you are on the road to emulating the United States Drug War.

    Well, get your people ready for another quagmire.

    As an American citizen, here are the facts of my personal encounter with the U.S. Drug War. Judge for yourself. Is this what you want for England?

    Fact one: My Son, Michael, is among the all to numerous completely sanctioned, “extra judicial” homicide deaths, here in the United States, directly attributed to the Drug War.

    He was gunned down by, quite literally now, hooded jack booted U.S. Drug Warrior thugs with police badges.

    While Michael stood naked by his own bed, the U.S. Drug Warriors burst through his front door and riddled his bedroom with machine gun fire.

    Michael was shot 10 times and died a few hours later. The Authorities decided killing my Son, who had no police record, was just, because the drug police claimed an unidentified informant said Michael had 368 tablets of ecstasy.

    And, of course, the Drug Warriors claimed there was the always just too convenient gun (which was never fired nor even produced).

    By now every American should know: In the name of the "War on Drugs" our U.S. Drug Warriors, with little or no compunction, shoot people to death. Is this what you want for England?

    Fact two: I was arrested, in New Orleans (for marijuana), U.S. Drug Warriors manipulated the entire matter and delivered the marijuana. I was to pay what I could, when I could and if I could. I had no where-with-all to accomplish the crime so the U.S. Drug Warriors provided all of that.

    What I had was the "propensity" to do the crime; therefore, according to our law, all the police did was considered completely legal. I was forced to agree to a set prison sentence while, quite oddly, forced to tell the Judge I wasn't being coerced.

    In my case, there was no marijuana (other than the Government's), no guns, and no money; yet, at 50 years old, with no police record, I became a manufactured criminal in the Drug War while the taxpayers spent around a million dollars on my arrest, conviction, incarceration and lifetime pay for the U.S. Drug Warriors.

    The U.S. imprisons 25% of the world's prisoners while our population comprises 5% of the world's people. Per capita, we imprison six times the number of British prisoners. Do you really think U.S. people are that bad? With 2,500,000 Americans behind bars and another 12 million restricted by post incarceration punishment, it is small wonder there are so many jobs available for illegal immigrants and no money for health care.

    Trust me on this one, I've been there: A huge number of U.S. prisoners should not be in prison. True, some people need to be incarcerated; unfortunately, U.S. prisons are full of non-violent prisoners serving outrageously long sentences all a function of the U.S. Drug War.

    Mr. Johnson, is this what you want for England? Six times more manufactured prisoners needing more prisons? I mean, if you want a police state overseen by your wanna-be Draco crowd chasing marijuana users, don't you think you ought to be able to pay for it?

    Fact three: U.S. Drug Warriors will not tell you the truth about the drug war. (And, Mr. Johnson, from the looks of things, neither will you.) They are in it to deep and have become an important financial part in the profits of the prison/industrial complex.

    True, the U.S. Drug Warriors have forced me to bow by implementing procedures like sanctioned murder of my Son, Federal imprisonment, character assassination and confiscation of my property.

    Also true, today, I am completely cowed, afraid and powerless to resist. I know, for an experienced unequivocal fact: the Drug Warriors can, at will, set me up for an arrest and conviction, adjust my sentence to however long they want or shoot me, my family and even my dog, until dead. And, not one person will be able to do anything about it.

    This is what America now has: Literally, A gang of hooded jack-booted murdering thugs calling themselves Drug Warriors. Certainly you can agree with me: England is on a bad road if you continue to follow the horrific policies of the U.S. Drug War.

    However, Mr. Johnson, if you copy the U.S., decide to carry on with absurd politically motivated drug policy, like you have done with marijuana, than England will get just what it deserves: A U.S. style endless Drug War that eats your own children.

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  • 364. At 1:03pm on 01 Nov 2009, kara135 wrote:

    Our government is correct at being angry that people openly discuss their evidence with the public, as not examining the full picture can often be misleading, however, for an advicer to get to the point of openly voicing his research one must assume that the government is not listening to his advice. What is the point in having researchers if the results are just going to be washed aside due to generational preference? How can the government think that making things/drugs illegal will stop users? If they are going to make steps to stop people doing what comes natural to them we are going to end up in a reality thats worse than big brother (1984). It is obvious that people may not always act in a fashion that the government is 'happy' with, why should they be punished? If drinking is more dangerous than drugs (and we all accept that drinking is part of our culture) why can't drugs also be? I am not saying I want open drug use, nor do I really want open drink use but I am stating is that information on these topics should be known by the public and the government should hurry up and change their out-dated policies. Drugs and drink are necessary evils, please listen and work with advisors because otherwise you will become a tyrannical government simply following your judgments rather than the facts! The young have different views to you and when we are in power, we will listen!

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  • 365. At 1:04pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    bigsammyb #360.

    "We do not grow hemp in the uk or indeed anywhere in the EU in any quantity."

    not so.

    "Over 30 countries produce industrial hemp including Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Russia and Spain."

    "France is Europe's biggest producer, with 8,000 hectares cultivated."

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  • 366. At 1:15pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    once it was law every farmer grew hemp in the uk.

    once everyone wore hemp

    ate hemp as butter and gruel(which is why they were strong in body and mind)

    some one once said "it shall be as your meat" wonder who?

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  • 367. At 1:19pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    CommunityCriminal #366.

    oh I don't disagree, but a lot of damage was done following DuPont's push to market nylon, it'll take a while to wean ourselves off the man-made fibres; luckily "bio-degradable" is becoming more and more important.

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  • 368. At 1:29pm on 01 Nov 2009, bobthetog wrote:

    Hopefully, this public resignation will open the way for a sensible debate on drugs control. All drugs ruin lives.
    Some are more harmful than overs. Tobacco and Alcohol are two of the most harmful. However they are legal. Both have connections to crime, i.e tobacco smuggling and anti-social behaviour as a result of too much alchohol.
    We must accept that we cannot criminalise their use, but as a Society we must educate to reduce the demand for them.
    There are also many otherwise law abiding members of society who are criminals because of their recreational use of illicit drugs. How often are politicians going to have to answer the question "did you inhale?".
    The way to move forward from this juvenile debate is to allow all drugs to be supplied under license. This removes organised crime and street dealers from the equation.
    Society can, when it has the supply chain under control, set out about the necessary education and rehabilitation programmes to reduce all drug usage to acceptable levels.
    We must accept in this debate that human beings will always be on the look out for new stimulants, be they be horse riding, bungee jumping, white knuckle rides, or drugs.

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  • 369. At 1:31pm on 01 Nov 2009, richg57 wrote:

    it seems to me that the government has sacked Mr Nutt because they do not agree with what he has to say. It is contrary to the policy they have decided are good for the nation.
    I do not know if Mr Nutt is correct in what he says but then he is the expert and not the Minister responsible for his removal. Perhaps the government should be sacked instead.
    Finally It is blatantly obvious that the policies of succesive governments re drug use and abuse have not worked at all and it is time to change these policies radically.

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  • 370. At 1:33pm on 01 Nov 2009, caregan06 wrote:

    The sacking of Professor Nutt is an yet another example of the government putting their political interests before those of the country. I can see no indication in anything Professor Nutt has said that he is minimising the impact of drug abuse, he is opening up the discussion and seeking clarity, in the best interests of the country. There is a huge drug and alcohol problem in this country, which the government is making no attempt to address. They prefer to create the impression that drug use is mainly confined to impoverished council estates and that they will take a hard line to prevent the problem impacting on the general public. Until there is honesty, serious discussion and adequate funding, the problem will continue to grow.

    I did not intend to vote for this government in the next election anyway, but like so many people, I feel so disillusioned with politicians, I have no faith in the policies of any party.

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  • 371. At 1:37pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    oh indeed I introduced a employee of our local council to hempcrete they are working with schools to build an environmentally low carbon building with as close to 0 foot print.He had never heard of the material....
    he was very surprised and thought it was great especially as it renders the building self heating with a negative(-5) 0 footprint as the hemp continues to take in carbon.

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  • 372. At 1:41pm on 01 Nov 2009, NutitanicPassenger wrote:

    JOB SPECIFICATION: Scientific Advisor.

    Essential: You must be able to tell lies so that your scientific qualifications can be used to back up any claims your boss wants to make. Forget the science, Your advice isn't actually wanted or needed.

    Warning: Being honest is a dismissable offence.

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  • 373. At 1:49pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    As were talking about what is essentially a system of belief on Alan' s part and science which can be classed as a religion as it chooses to confront god so must therefor consider itself on par with god having the ability to create life in all its forms.

    you have to consider this.

    Article 1
    1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
    2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.

    3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

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  • 374. At 1:59pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    So under the above article can the mass challenge by law the events of the last few days, do the beliefs that have been laid on the table actually harm the morals and health and harm public order and public safety, if so then they are illegal beliefs and should be acted upon much as an extremist would be silenced from speaking publicly.

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  • 375. At 2:01pm on 01 Nov 2009, Clive Poulton wrote:

    How out of touch is Mr Alan Johnson? Does he not see that the 'Drug Control Act' achieves the very opposite of that which it was created for by firmly putting criminals and those wishing to raise funds for the purchase of arms to perpetrate terrorist activities in control of drugs.

    With regard to the cannabis issue I can, speaking from experience, confirm that the legislation against it has caused me far more damage than the substance has or could ever cause me. I fell foul of 'the law' in my early twenties (I am now 55) and found that I was unable to get employment, refused accommodation and constantly harassed by the police because of my criminal record. Things got so bad I left Britain and went to live in the Netherlands where I was able to live and work normally and was not stigmatised for my use of cannabis.

    I am now registered disabled with serious mobility problems caused by 35 years of smoking tobacco. My consultant informs me that it is only a matter of time before I will have to have my right leg amputated. When this happens I expect the government will be sending me on a brick laying course in its attempt to get disabled people back to work in jobs that do not exist. The general public think this is a good idea because they are convinced that all disabled people are on the fiddle and claiming benefits they are not entitled to, but that is another (misguided) issue.

    What needs to happen is decriminalisation which would immediately disenfranchise the criminals. We could learn a lot from the Dutch. It is currently impossible to use cannabis without exposing yourself to criminals who would far rather sell you much more dangerous and addictive substances, not to mention stolen goods, false documents and fire arms and certainly have no concern for the individual. In conjunction with this the government needs to introduce a comprehensive drug education policy/scheme clearly explaining the dangers of all 'drugs' including alcohol and tobacco. This would be far better and of more use than providing career advice to children.

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  • 376. At 2:04pm on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    It's evident Johnson still has the blinkers on. Perhaps he's attended too many Smith-Harman-Brown seminars on shamlessness. Speaking off Harman, LOVING her defense of MP's hiring spouses or family, I understand she has now fully distinguished the MP as a class above the rest in her mind. I think she genuinely believes they're all hard done by in the wake of attempting to restore CHEQUES AND BALANCES to Westminster.

    Bigsammyb and community^^ Really glad people are talking more about hemp, it's beyond insane that so many people aren't even remotely aware of it's potential because of the hate campaign against weed. THAT is a more real crime in my opinion then the 'victimless' (slightly dodgy term that one) crimes of drug consumption.

    HEMP could be a stupendously huge green inititiave (puns- mwuhaha). is the government going to ignore other green initiatives because they disrupt the existing carbon fuel and energy industries? NO, that would be suicide at this point because we're all on to climate change, ie the truth that SCIENCE has shown us. so should the government ignore hemp because of the existing recreational consumable trade? or the printing materials trade? or the clothing fabrics trade? or the multiple aforementioned trades that hemp can help? NO, that would make no sense now would it. THINK GODDAMNIT, WHITEHALL!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 377. At 2:07pm on 01 Nov 2009, EvetHayir wrote:

    That excellent physicist and teacher Richard Feynman's famous conclusion during the inquiry into the shuttle Challenger accident "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." is very appropriate in the context of the actions of Alan Johnson.


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  • 378. At 2:13pm on 01 Nov 2009, JoeBloggs_snr wrote:

    I understand that Prof Nutt & co were not being paid for their work - seems to me they got what they paid for? The only way to limit what "employees" do & say is to have a contract that spells it out? I certainly wouldnt sign such a contract for free; & if the role is an advisory one like Prof Nutts's, possibly not at all? The govt got what they deserved - they wanted shackled independance - a contradiction in terms?

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  • 379. At 2:17pm on 01 Nov 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    bigsammyb #360.

    "We do not grow hemp in the uk or indeed anywhere in the EU in any quantity."

    not so.

    "Over 30 countries produce industrial hemp including Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Great Britain, France, Russia and Spain."

    "France is Europe's biggest producer, with 8,000 hectares cultivated."

    I said the UK and EU do not produce hemp in any QUANTITY which is true, the majority of countries import more hemp from the third world than they produce. This is because of strict regulation on the cultivation of hemp which is a harmless and very important resource.

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  • 380. At 2:20pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    5% of USA farm land dedicated to biofuels and bio mass would run the USA at its current power and fuel needs

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  • 381. At 2:29pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    bigsammyb #379.
    CommunityCriminal #371.

    "not so" and "oh indeed".

    yes, a bit tired and not firing on all cylinders yet, ought to have said "not (exactly) so" and also omitted the "oh"; no offense intended.

    re. 'hempcrete' your local council employee isn't the only one never to have heard of this material, quick google reveals interesting 'green' properties, will proselytise. ;)

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  • 382. At 2:29pm on 01 Nov 2009, Paul in Crawley wrote:

    If the members of the ACMD are unpaid, why do they need to report to the Home Office which seems to show such a distain for their efforts?

    The ACMD could just as easily report to Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, and the members of the committee could then question government policy in the House of Commons drawing on the independent advice of the country's best experts?

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  • 383. At 2:31pm on 01 Nov 2009, Les wrote:

    "Also people who keep bringing Alcohol and Tobacco into the debate conveniently ignore the fact banning either is not possible and is doomed to failure. They are so ingrained in our culture. No other drug is and something can therefore be done about it."

    I think you'll find the reasons are a bit more mercenary than that.

    Smokers pay £10 Billion pounds a year in extra tax and drinkers pay £12 billion a year in extra tax. Why do you think both those items duty (tax) "always" goes up in the budget? Because they are nice big earners for the states coffers.

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  • 384. At 2:34pm on 01 Nov 2009, legrambo wrote:

    These quotes are from Government sources. THey DO KNOW the true picture,of course they do, yet they continue to spin this line about the dangers of cannabis. That's what makes me so damn angry!

    1. "..the government acknowledges that alcohol and tobacco account for more health problems and deaths than illicit drugs...." [HM Government, cm 6941, the Government... Read More’s reply to ‘Drugs classification: making a hash of it?’, 2006, Page 24]

    2. "Acute deaths per annum as a result of illegal drug use:...Ecstasy 25 ...Cannabis 0... LSD 0... ...In comparison, alcohol causes 6000 acute and chronic deaths per year, and tobacco smoking around 100,000" [Number 10 Strategy Unit Drugs Project., 2003]

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  • 385. At 2:37pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Hempcrete at this point due to insane law is the same cost as standard building materials once there is enough hemp stalks produced it will be very cheap!


    Lime and Hemp stalk(woody fiber) after long fibers removed its actually the waste product of hemp clothing. Its also a good feed mix for animals

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  • 386. At 2:46pm on 01 Nov 2009, dongolamike wrote:

    An inconvenient truth, Mr Johnson?

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  • 387. At 2:48pm on 01 Nov 2009, jockbug wrote:

    I would like to wholeheartedly support Alan Johnsons sacking of Prof Nutt. I was very surprised and dissappointed when the committee originally recommended downgrading cannabis, downplaying its dangers and was very glad when the government went against the experts and reversed it. The evidence that the committee had cited seemed very orientated to a paper indicating that cannabis was not so dangerous and ignoring those that showed that it was particularly dangerous to young people, below eighteen.

    Our youngest son suffered severe psychosis, brought on by early cannabis smoking and is now estranged from our family. In addition, the stress nearly broke up our marriage. I am very glad that the government is ignoring the experts. Past experience has shown that they can be wrong, sometimes disastrously.

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  • 388. At 2:50pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:


    Smokers pay £10 Billion pounds a year in extra tax and drinkers pay £12 billion a year in extra tax. Why do you think both those items duty (tax) "always" goes up in the budget? Because they are nice big earners for the states coffers.

    if in 2007 cannabis put 4.5 billion in the criminal coffers now cannabis has doubled in price it doesnt take an idiot to work out that unless half the current smokers give up now and no ONE else takes it up it will be 9 billion in to the hands of organised crime buy the end of the fiscal year.

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  • 389. At 2:54pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    381. At 2:29pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:
    bigsammyb #379.
    CommunityCriminal #371.

    "not so" and "oh indeed".

    yes, a bit tired and not firing on all cylinders yet, ought to have said "not (exactly) so" and also omitted the "oh"; no offense intended.

    None taken all things read differently for different people and I knew what you meant :) Mr Kush types things strangely sometimes :)

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  • 390. At 3:02pm on 01 Nov 2009, freddawlanen wrote:

    Please remember everyone, the cultivation of cannabis was only made illegal in the USA because of the market for oil, coal and cotton (this would also be the reason the rest of the world demonized cannabis), these three products were monopolised by the ruling elite of the USA (and everywhere else), whereas anyone could grow hemp for profit, the (greatly exaggerated) dangers of cannabis were only mentioned in an attempt to legitimize this decision.

    Hemp was very quickly becoming the most lucrative product in the country, virtually all rope (a major industry in the day) was made from it and it was increasingly being used as a cheaper fuel source than oil or coal, the market for the materials made from its fibres was also increasing rapidly, as people noticed it was far more durable than cotton.

    If the growth of hemp got back to the levels it was at before being made illegal, it would bring great benefits to many countries economically and would also help to reduce CO2 levels as its production uses less energy than any other fuel source, whilst its growth produces more oxygen than any other crop,.
    Sadly though, the ruling elite still run the oil/coal industries in most of the world, so they will never allow this to happen.

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  • 391. At 3:03pm on 01 Nov 2009, badgercourage wrote:

    After listening to Robert (Lord) Winston on BBC News 24:

    I used to have respect for Mr Johnson. Not any more. He's just another politician, with no honour or shame.

    This ought to be a resigning matter for him.

    But as politicans expect everyone but them to resign in such circumstances, I think the change of this happening is vanishingly small.

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  • 392. At 3:05pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Radio 4 news announces Les King resigned from Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

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  • 393. At 3:07pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Our youngest son suffered severe psychosis, brought on by early cannabis smoking and is now estranged from our family. In addition, the stress nearly broke up our marriage. I am very glad that the government is ignoring the experts. Past experience has shown that they can be wrong, sometimes disastrously.

    Excuse me but in a legal and regulated system the chance of this is very low.
    Maybe you should have spent more time with your son after all his well far isn't down to the government they cant intervene in his protection that's your Job as a parent you did after all have MODA71 at your disposal you could have removed his dealers.

    My kids grew up understanding drugs new the physical harms of drugs saw me use cannabis daily for many years. I educated my kids on facts not propaganda. Maybe that's the big difference facts and science have meant they don't see the need for drugs unless your ill :) think about it.

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  • 394. At 3:08pm on 01 Nov 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    I really hope there is a roller coaster effect with this debate, its high time our government at the very least decriminalised cannabis and started more sensible legislation for other drugs ie: offering injecting services free of charge for heroin addicts.

    Many other countries in europe have started to see the light and its time things changed. I am sick of being criminalised and persecuted for my lifestyle choice which effects nobody but me.

    Being a user of cannabis in the UK is akin to being a homosexual in the 1950's, i could be imprisoned, i could lose my job and any hope of a career and why? What have i done to hurt anyone? I pay my taxes, i hold down a responsible job, i do not and have not commited any other crime.

    Am i so evil? You know somtimes i will be working on a problem at work (i work in I.T) scratching my head all day unable to resolve it. I go home tired and stressed.

    I crack open a cold beer and light up a joint when my chores are done and reflect and you know what? Nine times out of ten whilst i'm not even thinking about the problem at work the solution just pops in to my head. Its called inspiration and creativity somthing that in part i owe to the wonderful cannabis plant.

    Either way from seeing question time this week i know who i will be voting for in the next election. The Liberal Democrats, i don't know if they will go as far as i would like but at least they have shown they are prepared to base policy on reducing harm and current scientific method.

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  • 395. At 3:09pm on 01 Nov 2009, legrambo wrote:


    I am very sorry to read of your sons experience with cannabis. However, I recall 5 local teenagers killed after a night out drinking when the driver lost control and hit a tree in the early hours. What I'm trying to say is that I will maybe agree with you that cannabis should be illegal if you will agree with ME that both alcohol and tobacco should ALSO be illegal? This is discriminatory drugs policy and its being challenged in the courts here right now, a judicial review has been granted for early 2010.

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  • 396. At 3:10pm on 01 Nov 2009, newtactic wrote:

    I'm sorry for all you cannabis defenders. From my life experiences cannabis can ruin young lives. This is personal experience. Of course such substances on prescription can be used for those whose condition is relieved by it. Well done those of you who have taken it and have no ill effects. Lucky you. It's not my experience. It's not the experience of our family as a whole, many of whom have jobs in the sort of services which have to pick up the pieces when there is a bad reaction to it. I question all statistics which show it to be relatively harmless. I don't think I or my family belong to a small minority. Everyone is different. If the government were to make taking cannabis legal, how would we know who would suffer ill effects and who wouldn't? And isn't it more likely to cause cancer than smoking? I know some cannabis users who never reached pensionable age from cancer.
    These so call expert advisers have taken chemical facts and statistics. They have ignored social aspects and the wonderful variety of human beings in this country, many of whom are allergic to all sorts of things, including cannabis. They live in an elite academic cocoon completely divorced from most of us and, it seems to me, like many of you cannabis defenders on this blog, completely divorced from reality.

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  • 397. At 3:22pm on 01 Nov 2009, BenthamFish wrote:

    To those who comment that we're going down a totalitarian route: at least Professor Nutt hasn't been imprisoned. It's best to keep a sense of proportion.

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  • 398. At 3:28pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    C linoic acid a diet full of this stops most allergies pity its 2 main sources are flax seed and hemp seed.

    flax is really expensive and hemp well that's evil so its got no benefit's to offer.

    The world hungers because some one does not like the smell of a flower.

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  • 399. At 3:33pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    newtactic #396.

    "From my life experiences cannabis can ruin young lives. This is personal experience."

    personal experiences shape ones life, I could tell you about an elderly male relative, and another, a Roman-Catholic... I'm sure you get my drift.

    are you going to 'clamp down' on families and organised religion?

    "These so call expert advisers ... ignored social aspects .."

    what, stuff like this or this (paragraphs three thru six)?

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  • 400. At 3:44pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    I keep seeing all these posts about kids using drugs surprising since we have good drug laws.

    its like this the reality of it

    Mr J and all those that back him support street dealers.
    which means they also support Children using drugs as there is no one but the parent to say NO.
    So like this policy you have also failed as a parent as while you may be able to say NO in the house you cant say no when their friend introduces them to their friend who is one of the many local dealers. So when your children get ill from imbalances in the functioning of the brains natural endocannabinoid system which is what this whole argument about young people is about who can you lay blame with?

    What the defender wants A licenced retail outlet with ID this then prevents most children getting near cannabis unless its from a dealer, for which a much stronger and longer sentence could be given with more invasive law as to identity the dealer from arrest of the minor can be given as we would have half full prisons with lots of space for the real scum of society and not those that choose something other than alcohol to relax with.
    vast revenue for health and social projects especially for the young to get them of the streets and reward the hard work they do in schools after work hard play hard is the adult moto and we have plenty of places to do this what do most social groups of kids have?

    So which would cause the greatest harm?

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  • 401. At 3:47pm on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    newtactic, yeh, its subjective. YOUR experiences, YOUR story. you question the statistics and yet put forward some of the most ignorant myths concerning weed. you mention young lives being ruined, but dont you think if these young people hadnt been lied to and disenfranhchised in the first place (let alone any number of socio-economic or parenting factors being dealt with) they would have been better off? you reference the people who have made their professional endevour the greatest possible REALITY based understanding of these substances, as 'so called expert advisers'? you mention 'elite academic cucoons' and all these types being detached from reality. i'm building a picture here of you as exactly the kind person who most desperately needs to accept that elitism is actually good, facts and science are good, KNOWLEDGE is good. the best minds equiped with the right facts are the people we need to listen to, not the opinionates and idiots who live by broad, vague, generalised and outdated social principles!

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  • 402. At 3:48pm on 01 Nov 2009, terraChrisMin wrote:

    Anybody who questions the validity of the ACMD research has clearly not read the papers throughly.

    Bassing a drug policy on anything but scientific evidence is clear madness.

    Cannabis should be decriminalised.

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  • 403. At 4:09pm on 01 Nov 2009, newtactic wrote:

    I'm sorry rockhallfame. You clearly think I'm an idiot. All I write are my opinions based on personal experience. If you haven't experience any heartache, serious illnesses, or allergic reactions from taking cannabis. Lucky you! I used to have to leave parties in the 1960s when the joints came out... I won't tell you the affect they had on me... even inhaling second hand smoke... too gruesome.

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  • 404. At 4:18pm on 01 Nov 2009, newtactic wrote:

    Dear JJ4412, I basing my ideas on personal and family experiences. I looked up your links. I'm talking about the here and now. I recognise there are a lot on this blog who take, like and have no ill effects from cannabis. Good luck to them. It has not been my experience and as I said before a lot of family members work in the sort of social and medical services which have to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. Based on my experiences I think Nutt gave out the wrong message and his attitude after being let go has been elitist and arrogant. Only my opinion, but I'm a nobody and obviously not liked by most contributers to this blog.

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  • 405. At 4:34pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    It wouldn't be a problem with it remaining B A ZZ or whatever the problem is that its a supply and demand issue that will never be fixed until MODA71 has a sister act so to speak that puts cannabis as a true industry that eases unemployment brings about regeneration and new industries gives a reduction in under age use brings about a reduction in harms to communities and starts giving back the expenditure of keeping the most lawless parts of the industry policed.

    Until we have EQUALITY NO ONE WINS plain and simple.

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  • 406. At 4:41pm on 01 Nov 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    #404 Newtactic

    Don't take things so personally! We are a relaxed bunch, imagine if the same debate was about alcohol prohibition and we were adamant beer users!

    The thing is its perfectly true a lot of young people get out of hand smoking marijuana, i did myself but that has no impact on the question of illigality.

    At the moment kids can buy weed easier than they can buy beer, it wasn't the case in my youth alcohol was freely available but it isn't anymore and thats because of regulation. Do you think alcohol would be so difficult to get if it was illegal? No kids would be buying grain alcohol off street dealers.

    If cannabis was legal the black market supply would dry up, if the places you bought it were over 21 and very strict kids would find it harder to get weed than they do currently.

    Most of all we could have government health warnings and education, REAL education not the propoganda on places like 'talk to frank' which are littered with falsehoods and bad information.

    I will be proud when they day comes Britian can say what the Dutch say:-

    "We have succeeded in making marijuana boring."

    In the UK we currently have double the number of teen marijuana smokers than they have in the Netherlands and in the Netherlands it is decriminalised.

    The numbers speak for themselves.

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  • 407. At 4:46pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    newtactic #404.

    "..a lot of family members work in the sort of social and medical services which have to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. Based on my experiences I think Nutt gave out the wrong message.."

    since Professor Nutt argues that alcohol is more harmful than cannabis, I cannot see how you or your family members, can say 'wrong message'; don't your family members have to deal with the victims of alcohol misuse most of the time? (aim for an objective reply, please)

    "..I'm a nobody and obviously not liked by most contributers to this blog.."

    well, everyone is someone ;) as to the second point, this debate, like MPs expenses and other issues, does attract contributions framed in strong language, the reason, I guess, is as much to do with the topic as with the fact that 'the state' is taking is for granted and our so-called democracy -- on closer inspection -- a sham. your posts read like a defense of the status quo, a 'red rag' in such situations.

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  • 408. At 4:46pm on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    newtactic, its not about being liked or disliked, its about the information you choose to present on the blog and how its evidently being read by other contributors.
    i too have a wide variety of personal points i could have shared ranging from both the positive and the negative, concerning all manner of substances and activities. i DONT share them because i dont believe they really have any value in an informed debate.
    im sorry if you've been offended but i take issue with some of the things you have written. i'm not subject to the more serious potential harms of cannabis but i sure as heck am to the run of the mill ones that are dictated largely by responsibility. i've had my problems, and i'm not going complain about them because they are MY problems. i'm not arrogant enough to believe that the events or lessons of my life should bear effect on an entire nation.

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  • 409. At 4:52pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Netherlands are closing prisons due to lack of criminals :)

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  • 410. At 4:56pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Does this also mean as TALK TO FRANK which is based on science and Prof Nutt is also all wrong and has been again a vast waste of public funding ?

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  • 411. At 5:08pm on 01 Nov 2009, newtactic wrote:

    Good point bigsammyb. As you realise I am pleased Nutt has got the sack and regret his arrogant attitude to his sacking. He did not come over well on the tele or the radio. But then that is my opinion.
    I am obviously in the wrong social group now, for knowing anyone who smokes cannabis or advocates doing so, or could lay their hands on some if they wanted it. I do know plenty of smokers and drinkers, but none who have suffered any medical ill effects from either (so far). So from my point of view, Nutt was saying to me and my friends and family, why not do it? it's no harm, if you smoke and drink you might as well take cannabis as well.
    According to you it's very widespread. Perhaps if there were less cannabis use and more productive work, we would not be in such an economic mess.
    If those who take cannabis regularly feel so strongly that it would be better for everyone to make it legal, then they should get together and make a lobby group to achieve this. It would be an interesting exercise to find out how many people would support it when it came to the crunch.

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  • 412. At 5:38pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    sorry newtact but i have to say this one is really funny hangover anyone.....

    According to you it's very widespread. Perhaps if there were less cannabis use and more productive work, we would not be in such an economic mess.

    Its a myth that cannabis users are lazy. That they smoke it all day every day I do personally but that's in place of addictive psychotropic drugs the Dr gives me for a life long problem all my other friends hold down good jobs and work long hours very rarely take days of sick unlike the ones I know who drink and are unfit for work Mondays. :)

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  • 413. At 6:07pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Marion Walker's departure from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs came after Dr Les King's resignation.

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  • 414. At 6:10pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

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  • 415. At 6:12pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    quick comment about the numbers of deaths, drugs are recorded on death certs if present at the time of death so the figures do mislead a bit.

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  • 416. At 6:23pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    to add to CommunityCriminal's #415.

    source DrugScope

    There is no one organisation that collects information about drug-related deaths, for all of the UK.

    There is no one definition of what we mean by drug-related deaths. For example, it could include:

    * people who are dependent on drugs and overdose
    * suicides by overdose of people who have no previous history of using drugs
    * accidental poisoning or overdose
    * ecstasy related deaths where people have died from overheating through dancing non-stop in hot clubs rather than from the direct effect of the drugs
    * deaths associated with cigarette smoking
    * deaths from accidents where people are drunk or under the influence of drugs
    * murders and manslaughters where people are drunk or under the influence of drugs
    * deaths from driving while drunk or intoxicated
    * deaths from AIDS among injecting drug users
    * deaths which had nothing to do with the presence of a drug in the body

    Cause of death is recorded on death certificates but doctors may not mention drugs, even where drugs might be involved.

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  • 417. At 6:33pm on 01 Nov 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    As I see it, the scientific evidence is available for all to see. Sure, it doesn't guarantee that cannabis is 100% safe or 100% lethal but the stats are there. They conflict with the government's prohibition policy, regardless of what Prof. Nutt says.

    I personally believe he was right to draw public attention to the evidence. Johnson's problem was that his reclassification policy was exposed for what it was - emotional, irrational, deceitful; he had obviously made his mind up before ever asking his drug advisory council.

    What this means to me is that the advisory councils are probably a waste of taxpayers' money. The additional enforcement will cost even more of our money.

    But what's so utterly bananas is the government could legalise cannabis, regulate the manufacture and quality - and make a mint out of taxing it. In that way it would kill the illegal trade and get the dodgy stuff off the street.

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  • 418. At 6:40pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    having re-read the list in #416 a few times, the implications are beginning to sink in... :-(

    thanks, CommunityCriminal, for #414.

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  • 419. At 6:40pm on 01 Nov 2009, johnnyclock wrote:

    One way to regulate drug use is to face facts, legalise all of them. Remove the criminal element from the equation. Sell drugs like alcohol and make a shed load of income from tax. Denying that people (and some very respectable people as well) take drugs is foolish. Plenty of 'High Flyers' are literally that...Cocaine Kites...Yea (at the BBC too) fast talking confident and brave. Who do you know that has these qualities?
    So, to conclude, this goverment is really on it's way out...good.
    Life-long Socialist.

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  • 420. At 6:50pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Do people killed by drunk drivers fall under alcohol related deaths ?

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  • 421. At 6:59pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Slightly older story but a good example of how bad our drug policys are.


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  • 422. At 7:02pm on 01 Nov 2009, oldsitkaspruce wrote:

    Mr Nutt was way out of line ..he was an advisor looking at a narrow field..ministers have to make policy based on what is best for the people of this country ..and drug taking can in no way be better than non drug taking so the government has to take a policy along the lines that you are best not to take drugs...every day on earth there are stories in the paper of dreadful acts either done to others or self inflicted where drugs are involved..there seems to be a movement afoot in this country to legalise drugs lets stop that dead in its tracks..unless we want to end up in some sort of false la la land where nothing is real

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  • 423. At 7:07pm on 01 Nov 2009, FedupwithGovt wrote:


    To those who comment that we're going down a totalitarian route: at least Professor Nutt hasn't been imprisoned. It's best to keep a sense of proportion.


    And let's hope we dont find him propped up against a tree with his wrists slashed like a certain other Govt scientific adviser who blew the whistle on the WMD farce!

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  • 424. At 7:15pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Very good legalization argument.

    stories in the paper of dreadful acts either done to others or self inflicted where drugs are involved..

    could this be because they are illegal.? That they are controlled by the wrong people?

    nope cant be that at all...

    Who owns the drug market is very important to the future of society and government people throughout time have pursued intoxication, thus there will always be demand.

    Right so we start down the route of ban by intoxication and in relation to health issues if so we desperately need to add alcohol to the list same with tobacco same with chocolate and all foods high in fat 60% of the population are fat and at serious risk of health problems leading to death.
    Few more years and we will all be to fat to work just see it now little scooters carrying useless jelly's about...

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  • 425. At 7:23pm on 01 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:

    If I were you lot, I'd stop arguing for decriminalisation or legalisation of all drugs - that kind of thing is many years way and arguing for that now just gives daft people irrelevant ammunition.

    The issue right now is pot - and it's not just an argument between Politics versus Science. The main and best argument is Culture. Our culture and art have been leaning on potsmokers ever since the middle of the 1960's. What music would we have now if it wasn't for people like Syd Barrett, Hippies, Punks, Goths etc, all who smoked pot? Just look at Black Sabbaths song Sweat Leaf! Obviously, if pot has to be illegal, then all the music and art it has contributed too and created in the last 42 years should be purged from our society - Syd Barrett, Ozzy Osbourne, John Lennon, Paul McCartney etc etc etc.

    And it's also an argument about what culture we want to live in, in exactly the same way the 10p tax rate was. New Labour wanted to abolish the 10p tax rate because although they recognised it would impoverish some very poor people, they saw that it would make a lot more middle class people better off. Labour actually thought that we, as a country, would be happy persecuting a minority if it meant more of us were better off. That's exactly the same flawed calculation they've applied to pot - they think a majority of people will be happy persecuting a minority of people. Exactly how are New Labour not elitist and brutal facsists?

    And it's also an argument about what fundamental culture we are entitled to. The other week the French were celebrating many decades of Asterix the Gaul - a story where a small village of Gauls are able to resist supression and enslavement by Rome, by taking drugs supplied by their resident Druid Get-A-Fix. Why are the French allowed to have Hippy culture as part of their ancestoral ethnicity when we aren't, despite the fact that we had people like Merlin (or at least that culture)? I'm sure Merlin and his mates would have smoked pot :-)

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  • 426. At 7:29pm on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    422. At 7:02pm on 01 Nov 2009, oldsitkaspruce wrote:

    Mr Nutt was way out of line ..he was an advisor looking at a narrow field..ministers have to make policy based on what is best for the people of this country ..and drug taking can in no way be better than non drug taking so the government has to take a policy along the lines that you are best not to take drugs...every day on earth there are stories in the paper of dreadful acts either done to others or self inflicted where drugs are involved..there seems to be a movement afoot in this country to legalise drugs lets stop that dead in its tracks..unless we want to end up in some sort of false la la land where nothing is real

    "and drug taking can in no way be better than non drug taking". yes, i suppose thats true in a strictly health sense. BUT your argument is fraught with double standards and therefore wasted for as long as alcohol and tobacco are legal. think sir, THINK!

    "every day on earth there are stories in the paper of dreadful acts either done to others or self inflicted where drugs are involved". oh my god, the newspapers sensationalise and vilify based on a whim to sell more copy?? SAY IT ISNT SO?!?!?!?! not to mention the fact that your presupposing everything published in a newspaper is factually sound and not itself politicised.

    "there seems to be a movement afoot in this country to legalise drugs lets stop that dead in its tracks..unless we want to end up in some sort of false la la land where nothing is real" dont know what land your living in mate but that is an utterly patronising and uninformed vision of what might happen if drugs are legalised. stop the fear son, it falls on dead ears.

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  • 427. At 8:17pm on 01 Nov 2009, BayLooker wrote:

    If you "re-classify drugs" you can put more people in prison and create more wars against farmers, soft targets I'd say. Maybe not in Afghanistan.

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  • 428. At 8:53pm on 01 Nov 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

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

  • 429. At 9:11pm on 01 Nov 2009, KiltedGreen wrote:

    "Governments don't like numbers, so some numbers were brushed out of it" – Professor Martin Parry on the IPCC's Working Group 2's Summary for Policymakers (Adam, 2007b)

    Sound familiar?

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  • 430. At 9:33pm on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    i had a discussion earlier where my opponent suggested that my diatribe was pointless because of course the government wont decriminalise anything, its a guaranteed election loser. "why would a politician do such a thing?", he asked.

    'BECAUSE THEY FLIPPING WELL WORK FOR YOU' was my irrate response.
    this'll come across as painfully naive im sure, but politics has to be about more then re-electability. this is the curse that grinds administrations to a halt and produces some truly daft legislation. its impossible to please every disparate element of an electorate! its completely STUPID to base policy on the element of the electorate that doesnt have, or for some bizare reason wont accept, the real facts.

    my outburst wasnt well calculated because the response, 'well yeh, they work for us, theyre listening to the electorate, right?'
    ugh, the wrong MINORITY. referendum pleeeeeeeease!

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  • 431. At 9:37pm on 01 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:

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  • 432. At 9:44pm on 01 Nov 2009, bigsammyb wrote:

    "#425. At 7:23pm on 01 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:
    If I were you lot, I'd stop arguing for decriminalisation or legalisation of all drugs - that kind of thing is many years way and arguing for that now just gives daft people irrelevant ammunition."

    I think you are right it would be easier to discuss the issue purely of cannabis than allow the argument to get caught up in seperate issues.

    As has been demonstrated in this blog countless times, there are no legitimate reasons as to why cannabis should be illegal.

    Every single old argument put forward can be debunked in a couple of sentances.

    We need to look at the figures. In the UK we have the highest levels of drug abuse, for virtually every substance, in europe and we also have the most draconian drug laws. The only nation that likes drugs more than us is the US and they have even more ridiulous drug laws than we have.

    Anyone see a link here? By contrast the netherlands has the fewest number of marijuana users of every age yet it is decriminalised and freely available in coffee shops (and i can say from personal experience the marijuana is very good at an affordable price in amsterdam ;) )

    When you look at the entire outlook you will also see the netherlands has the fewest prostitutes, teenaged pregnancies, drug addicts and even criminals to put in prison!

    As CommunityCriminal pointed out in this blog the netherlands are closing down prisons:-

    Other EU countries like Portugal are now following suit, it makes sense when you remove all your bigotary and bias.

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  • 433. At 9:50pm on 01 Nov 2009, oldsitkaspruce wrote:

    What a pity this discussion has been taken over by people who are seemingly drug users their powers of reason are seriously undermined

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  • 434. At 9:50pm on 01 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:

    Yes, excellent idea Rockhallfame, a referendum.
    But we shouldn't need a referendum. I don't see why anyone else has a right to dictate lifestyle choices to me or to anyone else. If there is no victim, then there is no crime. Certainly in the case of pot, there is absolutely no victim at all. If the self is a victim, then make rockclimbing class A, and also lots of various sexual practices and leanings class A too.
    And actually, I don't consider pot a lifestyle choice, I think of it as a fundamental right and an ethnically appropriate practice. Our Dutch cousins have legal pot and they don't have any problems.
    Our country is rubbish and we are victims of a Neo-Norman morally flawed and hysterical majority. It's like we got put under arrest in 1066, and we have been under arrest ever since.

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  • 435. At 9:55pm on 01 Nov 2009, oldsitkaspruce wrote:

    There was a rather good interview on the news channel about an hour ago where the lady being interviewed put the whole episode into perspective and gave some balance. She was someone who deals with addicts and was very critical about the make up of the panel Mr Nutt chaired...She actually dealt with all the facts much more clearly than any of our ramblings on here

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  • 436. At 10:02pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:


    What a pity this discussion has been taken over by people who are seemingly drug users their powers of reason are seriously undermined

    do you include the worst drug of all alcohol???

    Please do explain how my reasoning is undermined.
    By my reason it would be very hard for under 18/21 to buy cannabis if that is undermined reasoning? We are in a situation that as it stands any 13 year old can buy cannabis is this the correct reasoning you talk about??
    Billions into the hands of criminals is not sound reasoning .

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  • 437. At 10:07pm on 01 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:

    Re oldsitkaspruce "What a pity this discussion has been taken over by people who are seemingly drug users their powers of reason are seriously undermined"

    - Actually sunshine, I'm a professionally qualified senior Marketing Manager with a £3M annual budget. What does your adled by propaganda and prejudice mind allow you to play at for a living?

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  • 438. At 10:09pm on 01 Nov 2009, copperDolomite wrote:

    This is yet another worrying example of politicians failing in their jobs. Their job is to deal with the data they have available. It is not to pretend the data is something that it is not. Where have we seen that before?
    Time and again politicians look for data to support their policies, rather than basing their policies on the data. If the politicians want to make a moral judgement, then they should have the morality and gumption to say so.
    To expect Professor Nutt or any other scientist to hold his tongue regarding data or any other aspect of their work is a morally corrupt expectation. Sadly, the politicians (both main parties) seem to be so far gone with their ideas of what the public are entitled to hear, read, do or see, they are left incapable of making even the simplest of judgement calls when it comes to communicating with the public.
    There have been enough examples of this in the past, and here is yet one more. Imgaine if Professor Nutt was gagged by a profit-making company in the same way, asked to keep quite certain information that may affect the public view of the company, information about a drug they may or may not take? Rightly, there should be a public outcry.
    The government is the law-making body of this country. Our politicians are responsible for creating the laws of this country. We entrust these people to perform their job, yet they seem to value opinion over evidence. This is a disgraceful failure of politicians, whatever their party, to grasp the difference between politics and scientific research. Just how many of these MPs have studied science, have a grasp of what science, and just as importantly, what it is not? The scientific method is not an idealogy. It should not be bent to suit ideology.
    No scientist should ever be gagged. No data, out with the security services, should ever be hidden from the public. The public are entitled to honest information.
    How many more examples are we going to have?
    Professor Nutt, a highly respected scientist, has performed magnificently. Well done Professor Nutt.

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  • 439. At 10:12pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    oldsitkaspruce #433, #435.

    I (usually) know better than to feed a troll, but here goes:

    "..more clearly than any of our ramblings.."


    clearly, you speak for yourself.

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  • 440. At 10:17pm on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    433. At 9:50pm on 01 Nov 2009, oldsitkaspruce wrote:

    "What a pity this discussion has been taken over by people who are seemingly drug users their powers of reason are seriously undermined"

    Thank you for devaluing any further contribution you may care to make to this board. I have read a multitude of accurate and inciteful posts that have enriched a true debate. You seem to be of the attitude that drug users are by default, inferior individuals. I call that bigotry.
    With regards to your 'powers of reason' comment, i think i brief look at history will reveal the powers of reason are most frequently in the hands of the oppressed; those disillusioned and marginalised by the beast of those with ONLY power.

    about 435, if you believe that one individual is truly capable of putting an entire issue into perspective, I fear for YOUR perspective. i think i speak for others here when i say my views are formed by careful deliberation using as many facts as i can gather on the issue at hand.

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  • 441. At 10:30pm on 01 Nov 2009, oldsitkaspruce wrote:

    seem to have generated a bit of heat here or was it a raw nerve here and there...anyway back to the ramblings on other more interesting sujects and leave the addicts to their despair rich or not as the case may be ...cant see what £3million has to do with the discussion

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  • 442. At 10:33pm on 01 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    434 luminous, very true, in legal terms no victim = no crime. the criminalisation of drugs is an immensely unfair act of prejudice regarding the character of those who wish to indulge. it presupposes they are of morally lesser value.
    sadly criminalisation has made this a self-fulfilling prophecy. 'illegal drugs' are now the remit of the criminal fraternity, and thus easily associated with immoral values.
    there is a huge amount of hypocrity in the arguments of anti-marijuana persons. for most, it comes down to their MORAL imperatives, which are in this instance completely only relevant to themselves. more unfortunately for them the science is in on the health issues, so now all they really have is their selfish and frightened desire to project their own morality on everyone else.

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  • 443. At 10:33pm on 01 Nov 2009, steve jacobs wrote:

    One of the biggest concerns currently being expressed by politicians and the media is the "increase" in young people undergoing treatment for cannabis related problems.
    Surely this is being exaggerated by the governments own policy relating to young offenders being caught in posession of cannabis.... someone please correct me if I am miss-reading this, especially the last paragraph.

    What happens with under 18s ?
    According to the government ‘the current procedure for under-18s caught in possession - which uses a reprimand, final warning and charge - will remain unchanged as it provides an appropriate escalation mechanism.’
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    According to the Home Office, a young person found to be in possession of cannabis will be arrested and taken to a police station where they can receive a reprimand, final warning or charge depending on the seriousness of the offence. This must be administered in the presence of an appropriate adult.

    Following one reprimand, any further offence will lead to a final warning or charge. Any further offence following a warning will normally result in criminal charges. After a final warning, the young offender must be referred to a Youth Offending Team to arrange a rehabilitation programme.


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  • 444. At 10:41pm on 01 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Oldsitkaspruce no just heat people like yourself haven't got the power to make my nerves raw however finding out your brother died of a heroin overdose does. having your 14 year old daughter raped by 2 20 year old men and having it thrown out because alcohol was involved hits a raw nerve you know just the little things in life.

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  • 445. At 10:45pm on 01 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:

    Re oldsitkaspruce message 441. A budget is a working thing, not personal wealth. I'm not rich, but I work with people who are, and they trust me and my powers of reasoning with their money. I make them a lot of money with my powers of reasoning :-) But whatever :-)

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  • 446. At 10:46pm on 01 Nov 2009, steve jacobs wrote:

    Further to my above post, this is the current law regarding alcohol

    Alcohol is not illegal for an over 5 year old to consume away from licensed premises. It is an offence for a vendor to knowingly sell to an under 18 year old. A 14 year old can go into a pub alone but not consume alcohol. A 16 year old can buy and consume beer, port, cider or perry (but not spirits) in a pub if having a meal in an area set aside for this purpose. In some areas there are by laws restricting drinking of alcohol on the streets at any age. Police also have powers to confiscate alcohol from under 18s who drink in public places.

    I'm gobsmacked !!!

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  • 447. At 11:06pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    stevejacobs7 #446.

    "Alcohol is not illegal for an over 5 year old to consume away from licensed premises."

    given the known toxicity of alcohol, surely, this must rate as child abuse.

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  • 448. At 11:16pm on 01 Nov 2009, steve jacobs wrote:

    So in theory the law as it stands would allow my children to get drunk every night of the week and smoke as many cigarettes as they wanted (there is no age limit for smoking) yet I could end up with a 2 year prison sentence for smoking a joint.
    Surely this is the essence of Mr Nutts report: that the current law over punishes the use of a fairly low risk drug while allowing the misuse of much more harmful ones.

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  • 449. At 11:42pm on 01 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:

    The problem with pot and psychiatry is this.

    Modern pot, skunk, is different to old fashioned proper pot. There is no proper pot anymore - the modern resins & grass are nothing like it. Proper pot disappeared about 5 - 8 yrs ago. Proper pot has a heavy and very rooted side to it, and also a high side. Skunk only has the high side. And unlike like proper pot, the effects of skunk can hang for a few days or even weeks if you've been really caning it. In a much bigger way than with proper pot, altogether, temporary intoxication from skunk can look a lot like psychosis. Psychosis is a possible, (but not definite), symptom of inherent severe mental illness.

    What's happening, is that NHS psychiatrists are getting hold of people who are only temporarily intoxicated from smoking skunk (with nothing else wrong with them), and the NHS psychiatrists are not giving those people any opportunity to recover. They just immediately declare them psychotic and therefore potentially mentally ill, and immediately force them onto heavy anti-psychotic medication to make them 'compliant', and retarded & impaired - potentially for the rest of their lives - all on the over-assuming & incredibly abusive proposition that they just 'might be mentally ill', and with their pious premise that they "only want to make them better". But of course better for who? It's nothing but a gulag and an in-the-community-concentration-camp.

    Worst of all, they then feed the data from those misdiagnosis's back into their psychiatric proponsity models, and use it to fraudulently prove future misdiagnosis's. When you take into account how flawed and corrupted psychiatries probability & propensity models are, there really is no reason to think that pot, any pot, is connected with mental illness.

    It's exactly like CS Lewis said "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of it's victims may be the most oppressive". Just like this tyranny we're living in now - and left to Govt this situation will only get worse and worse.

    Personally, I think it's completely wrong for anyone below the age of 18 to smoke pot. If they do then obviously it should be a parent & criminal matter. But those adults who do smoke pot should be given the space to get on with their own lives.

    We should demand an option on the bottom of the ballot papers for 'NONE OF THE ABOVE'. That would put a stop to the whole ugly show, and I reckon for every reason, tons of people would vote for that :-)

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  • 450. At 11:43pm on 01 Nov 2009, newtactic wrote:

    Surely the essence of the debate is that far more people indulge in alcohol and smoking than take drugs, including cannabis, and therefore the incidence of harm is much greater and these are the statistics we are debating.
    But dare suggest in this debate, that the sacking of Nutt was OK and most of the bloggers will attack you like a pack of baying hounds anxious for blood.
    I've said before and I'll say again, for some years now my family and circle of friends do not take any form of unprescribed drug, including cannabis, although there are plenty of smokers and drinkers among us. But there are also probation officers, medical professionals and drug advisory service professionals among our number who deal with the damage that non-prescribed drugs, including cannabis can cause. My opinions are based on this. I do not know of any non-prescribed drug users except those who need the help. I may be non-typical, I don't know, But I am entitled to base my opinions on my own experience, and I am entitled to put them on this blog. (By the way Professor Winston on Channel 4 news worth listening to, if anyone caught it. Channel 4 news usually offers a balanced viewpoint.)
    I've laid the bait, now tear me apart.

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  • 451. At 11:43pm on 01 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    #447 cont'd.

    the fact that alcohol consumption is not 'verboten' for young children seems a clear indicator of how much power the alcohol lobby has. it is impossible for this to have gone unnoticed by government ministers and their advisors (especially since there were a lot of revisions to existing legislation under Blair), the questions then is: has the government given license to mistreat children? (hestitate to use abuse since this appears to trigger closer inspection by the moderators) is this 'anomaly' designed to allow early habituation to alcohol? who is responsible for framing the legislation? who were their sponsors?

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  • 452. At 00:00am on 02 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    newtactic #450.

    "for some years now my family and circle of friends do not take any form of unprescribed drug ... there are plenty of smokers and drinkers among us"

    ok, you take the drugs of your choice. why can others not be allowed to take the drugs of their choice? do you belong to a "better" class of citizen?

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  • 453. At 00:05am on 02 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

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

  • 454. At 00:11am on 02 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    return my post ill take the last bit off :P

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  • 455. At 00:14am on 02 Nov 2009, busby2 wrote:

    " As has been demonstrated in this blog countless times, there are no legitimate reasons as to why cannabis should be illegal".


    He thought the dangers were overstated. From the comparisons he drew, the logical conclusion is that he was in fact arguing for also making tobacco and alcohol illegal substances......

    In fact this blog illustrates all too clearly why Nutt had to be sacked. His comments have attracted every nutter who believes cannabis should be legalised which wasn't what Nutt was saying.

    Mark Easton has mentioned the role of scientific advisors in the light of the BSE crisis. The advice was that millions might be infected and we spent billions eradicating BSE. I think we were absolutely right to eradicate BSE but the harm to humans (100 plus deaths or so in 15 years) is but a small fraction of the deaths from tobacco (1,500,000 premature deaths in 15 years). Given that BSE is far less harmful than tobacco, surely are all those advocating the legalising of cannabis would also think that it was unnecessary to eradicate BSE despite the fact that this was contrary to the advice of the scientific advisors at the time? And if not, why not?

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  • 456. At 00:15am on 02 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    newtactic, perhaps its your detachment from drugs that results in your mindset. you claim many relatives are involved in occupations that deal with the negative aspects of drug abusers, so it is no wonder you have an irrational fear of them.
    first hand experience of responsible drug users, and perhaps some thorough research, might enlighten you!
    you are entitled to your opinions, we are entitled to respond.

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  • 457. At 00:25am on 02 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    I argued for months with my psychiatrist about the benefits of cannabis for depression and other mental health issues took a few medical research papers to get her to listen, but finally she took me off highly addictive effexor XL max dose and put me on a very small dose of cipralex to complement the cannabis. I was also prescribed zopiclone and Valium to help me come of the effexor took 6 weeks of bad cramps in my spine shoulders and neck as the drugs came out of my system.

    And before anyone says oh you got a shrink because you smoke herb no I actually burnt out had a full mental breakdown working for a major broadband company as we forged the networks in the infancy of high speed Internet.

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  • 458. At 00:31am on 02 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    busby2 #455.

    a bit of a red herring, no?

    BSE came about as a result of applying industrial for-profit methods to cattle farming, feeding herbivores with rendered cattle remains, effectively turning the poor beasts into cannibals -- not cricket! and certainly not good animal husbandry. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, other than that scientific advice is used expediently by government ministers (and I'm sure we can agree on that).

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  • 459. At 00:39am on 02 Nov 2009, Luminous-Layne wrote:

    It's simple busby2, no victim - no crime.

    There are no victims of smoking pot, apart from perhaps the 1 in 5,000 men and 1 in 20,000 women who 'might' develop mental health problems from smoking pot - the figures that were stated in the original Parliamentary debate in 2008 when they decided to put it back up to class B. That's a ridiculously small risk and a pathetic excuse for persecuting an entire sub-culture. The real problem is that our Govt thinks that sub-culture equals sub-normal & sub-human.

    Pot is not about other peoples greed and poor practices. BSE was, and there were very real victims of it, therefore obviously, BSE was a crime. Just like our Govt are committing a crime for sticking people who smoke pot in prison or in psychiatric gulags.

    And isn't it wonderful how fascism tends to backfire in the face. If Labour had just left it alone at Class C, this would never have become an issue. Now it is, a proper one :-)

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  • 460. At 00:39am on 02 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    455, busby2, we know he didnt advocate its legalisation, many of us are merely engaging in organic debate on the surrounding issues. calling us nutters is a wee bit inaccurate, as we are largely the individuals using logically sound arguments (in my opinion) but more importantly stating facts.
    bringing BSE into the argument in the manner you've applied it is painfully irrelevant. you take a huge leap through what must be some fairly spurious connections to assume we would advocate such a thing. there's a big difference between cannabis and BSE. i want my food products to be free of potentially lethal taint, i dont want every mouthful to be a gamble on my life. if i choose to use cannabis it is a direct and applied choice. just like drinking or smoking tobacco, i would hopefully understand the risks involved, but anyone with two brain cells wouldnt do these things without full awareness of the action.

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  • 461. At 00:40am on 02 Nov 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    newtactic why do we need to flame you all you have done is relayed your experience of a poor drug system, the fact that your friends pick up the pieces is a prime example of this, some could say you were arguing for the jobs they hold but that's another argument, I think the recovery industries work well given the laws they are allowed to work within.

    You talk about the harms and price on lives of illegal drugs as Ive said before I lost my brother to a heroin overdose the highest price of this drug war. This is probably what gives me a clearer insight to the problem.It makes me want to fight to bring about changes that remove people like my brother from the life they have fallen into. Not put them in prison criminalise them for being a victim of an ill thought out system.
    The right pressures on a vulnerable person makes for easy drug addicts, that pressure is money for drug dealers.

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  • 462. At 01:04am on 02 Nov 2009, TheEnglishman wrote:

    344. At 07:20am on 01 Nov 2009, Whato1986 wrote:
    @ 340 TheEnglishman

    "I haven't seen much discussion of the statistics on drug related burglaries as opposed to Horse Riding related ones. Anyone know anything about these?"

    I saw this comment and thought I ought to reply to it.

    Hmm, you say "drug related burglaries as opposed to Horse Riding related ones" You don't specify which drug, the sacked chief drugs advisor DID specify, he specified ecstasy. He said that you were more likely to get harmed horse riding than you were from ecstasy, which is TRUE. Read his council's report and data please
    I made a facetious comment with a serious message, although as I imagine Ecstacy money as well as Cannabis money also goes into criminal hands I'd suggest that your objection isn't one that can be taken too seriously, if you buy drugs off dealers, you fund crime, although to be fair I only mentioned that associated with the users funding their habits.

    Still, did Prof Nutt take any notice on how much crime is related to drugs? If he did and I missed it, then so did most of the 'pro cannabis' comments on here, at least when slating Johnson and Government
    Much as I hate Nu Labour, Alan Johnson has more to consider than the effect on the taker, he has to consider the effect on Society, and, even though you may argue those effects are due to the illegal nature of the drugs, that is where we are.

    Johnson is in no position to throw the gates open to drugs. Any decriminalisation of drugs would need to consider how the drugs would be sourced, & that takes time, otherwise you simply give Gangsters a legal source of funding.

    I think we should all have the right to kill ourselves in any way we choose, I would legalise all drugs,but having said that, they are currently illegal, and anyone buying such drugs is likely to be funding other crimes.

    To sum up, the drug users point of view isn't the bottom line as far as Johnson is concerned, and as he didn't criminalise any drugs (although Tobacco could soon be the exception to that statement) I think he is being treated unfairly.

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  • 463. At 01:19am on 02 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:


    getting late, it's been interesting and educational (!!), hasta luego.

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  • 464. At 01:22am on 02 Nov 2009, IWANTCHANGE wrote:

    We class ourselves as an intelligent race yet we are spoken to and treated like children by the very people we elect to action what we decide and we let them! There is absolutely no excuse for ignoring the research that they themselves asked to be done.

    I know the government (if we let them) will never change their minds on drugs as I have read the replies to the mass amount of E-PETITIONS that have been closed or rejected, I have even created a petition asking for ALL laws not just drugs to be based upon solid independent evidence and in the best interest of the UK. It didn’t even make it past the filter (think I worded it wrong, try yourself).

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  • 465. At 01:44am on 02 Nov 2009, rockhallfame wrote:

    462 theenglishman, the main point of yours i take issue with is that purchasing drugs funds crime. yes that is true. but consider that today, providing they have the money, an individual can quite easily acquire any drug of their choice. that is regardless of the measures taken by government to prohibit them, and only the most totalitarian measures could actually ensure this end. something that society would most certainly not tolerate.
    it logically stands that the use of illegal drugs funds crime because the government has made said activity illegal.
    given these factors dont you agree that the best way to deal with drug relate crime is to control and manage it rather then use prohibition?

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  • 466. At 2:39pm on 02 Nov 2009, slightlyallthetime wrote:

    There are several comments on this blog page that keep referring to drug money going into the hands of criminals,which I'm sure is true in some cases,but not all,I have smoked cannabis for 40 years and have never bought it from anyone I would consider to be a criminal.
    Now that we have access to the home grown varieties,more people are just growing their own or gaining their supplies from local co-operatives.
    There is also a belief among some bloggers that the strains of cannabis available now are much stronger than they were in the past,if the new strains are being compared to the rubbish "euro dope" or "soapbar" varieties that were around in the 1980's than this is true,but the new strains are no stronger than the stuff that was around in the 60's and 70's,weaker if anything.
    There is also a lot of talk about "psychosis" associated with smoking cannabis,I asked some ex Oxford Don psychologist friends of mine exactly what psychosis meant and their reply was,that it can mean anything that describes a persons mental state,the dictionary definition is wide ranging i.e illusions,delusions,mental confusion etc,so I would assume that the word psychosis could be applied to anyone who is drunk as well,yet the word is rarely used in association with alcohol,where it is more applicable.It's just a word bandied around by the government to try and frighten people away from using cannabis,it's a shame they cant use it to frighten people away from alcohol.
    The government and the drinks industry have done a very good job in keeping alcohol out of it's proper description as a drug,i.e it's always referred to as "drugs and alcohol" as if they are somehow seperate,and they are in a way,because one is legal and one isn't.

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  • 467. At 3:46pm on 02 Nov 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    slightlyallthetime #466.

    well said.

    "..a very good job in keeping alcohol out of it's proper description as a drug,i.e it's always referred to as "drugs and alcohol".."

    it gets better, in the Oxford English Dictionary 'alcohol' is the only of the substances in question which does not have the word 'drug' in its definition; neat or what?

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  • 468. At 3:57pm on 02 Nov 2009, nahummer wrote:

    Truly disgraceful. It seems the march towards totalitarianism continues. When the scientific experts are first ignored, then gotten rid of, we know that we're heading in the wrong direction as a society. Mob rule anyone?

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  • 469. At 4:22pm on 02 Nov 2009, U14199354 wrote:

    There is certainly a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding around this issuethat seems to stem primarily from a lack of understanding of the scientific method or what "scientific evidence" actually means.

    I do not want to take a stand on the drugs issue here. What worries me more than anything is the apparent minimisation of scientific opionion to the level of any unqualified opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but a published scientific opinion, subject to peer review and based on facts, should be afforded a lot more weight and respect than the current government seems to think it deserves.

    Apparently, politicians are privy "other evidence" that the scientists are not. This, we are told, forms part of the final decision-making process, which is why they can reject advice from experts. Now maybe my logic is flawed, but it seems to me that this other evidence must be, by definition, unscientific. If there were any basis to include this evidence as part of an impartial decision, then it should have been known to the scientists and included in their report!

    Scientists do not always exclude opinions in their analysis of evidence. They treat them as a court would treat witness statements: inherently unreliable. But they can be important evidence. For example the experiences of hospital workers can be useful evidence of the health impact of drugs, although a good scientist recognises that there are a large number of biases involved – not least because hospital workers primarily deal with sick people and therefore do not see as many of the others, to whom no harm has come. Scientists are very good at spotting this sort of bias and compensating for it. Politicians, as a rule, are not.

    This is my ultimate point: all of the relevant evidence was included in the report. All other evidence was irrelevant and should not have affected the political decision. The politicians simply chose to ignore this. They did not have access to any mysterious, undisclosed evidence. They simply formed a biased opionion, just like everyone naturally does, and rejected the scientific advice in favour of the same sort of “common sense” that tells us that the earth is flat.

    If anyone really cares what is in the report, I would suggest reading it. It is here:

    You also might be interested in David Nutt's extremely well written summary of the whole issue:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 470. At 8:44pm on 02 Nov 2009, slightlyallthetime wrote:

    Re,blog no 469 and the "other evidence" that the government is apparently privy to and the scientists are not,well I reckon I know what this "other evidence " is,and it's this....If the government in any way shows that it even remotely agrees with David Nutts findings then it will be an endorsement of cannabis,so regardless of the truth,they have to disagree with him.
    The reason why they have to disagree is as endorsement by the government will increase the popularity of cannabis and more people will use it,and maybe use it instead of alcohol,and if people are not using their drug (alcohol),then they wont be making so much money in their rake off from the drinks industry,income tax will have to go up to compensate for this and consequently they will be voted out of office.
    The legalization of cannabis is so far down the line for the government to contemplate,so they wont be making any money from legalized cannabis in the near future and agreeing with David Nutts findings leaves them in a Catch 22 situation,people may start to abandon alcohol in favour of cannabis,especially with a scientific and government endorsement.
    It's all very clear when you think about it,it's got nothing to do with health concerns or psychosis or any of the other spurious reasoning they throw our way,it's all to do with money.
    So,if I'm wrong in my "other evidence " theory,maybe the government ought to make this evidence available and disprove David Nutts study,isn't there a freedom of information act out there somewhere? Would a judge in a trial have a balanced view of the case without all the evidence in front of him,could he honestly pass sentence on someone when the prosecution states that they have some "other evidence",but no one can see it.
    So come on Brown,lets see it,your "other evidence",I wait with bated breath!!

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  • 471. At 12:05pm on 07 Nov 2009, Joe Clements wrote:

    Who pays the piper calls the tune! Alan Johnson should remember that the wages/fees for advisors are paid from the PUBLIC PURSE. As such, we, the tax payer, have the right to see and hear all the information that we have paid for without any recourse to party policy. Professor Nutt (and any other "expert" advisor) has a duty to inform the tax payer of the advice he has given and the reasons for that advice. This is a fair safeguard against the Alan Johnson's of this world walking all over the taxpayer and doing just what suits him or his party. There is a very good page on Drugs and the Government on a website called Caustic Bytes and the relevant page is "The War On Drugs", which Alan Johnson should read.

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  • 472. At 11:44am on 11 Nov 2009, Observation2 wrote:

    Hmm..whats another word for drugs?..Medicines of course!
    "A WAR ON MEDICINES" doesnt sound quite so heroic does it ?
    but then if I was a policeman; Id rather arrest a dopey teenager or someone in pain than someone who is actually dangerous.
    The three most effective painkillers that God gave us are "controlled" not by the government but by the people that "control" the government.

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  • 473. At 11:51am on 04 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    The current Goverment message on the harms of cannabis is working very well with the teens..................................

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  • 474. At 10:04pm on 06 Dec 2009, iNotHere wrote:

    Transform FOI vs Home Office suppression of research:

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  • 475. At 11:15pm on 06 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:
    Latest lame UK gov't excuse for supressing drug policy report: "if we release it, it will be hard to manage the news

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  • 476. At 00:02am on 07 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    The key side-effect of the mephedrone scare has been a spike in sales – and a government policy now close to breaking point

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  • 477. At 00:24am on 07 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Seem to remember saying a quite few blogs back that synthetic drugs was the way forward once cannabis got the work-over.
    As the story ends move a molecule new substance no ban.

    Mark do you think the report will be interesting ?

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  • 478. At 8:04pm on 07 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Well nice to see someone do well out of the decision to keep it B

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  • 479. At 5:04pm on 13 Dec 2009, GeoffWard wrote:

    'I cannot have public confusion between scientific advise and policy' Johnson.

    Mr Alan Johnson, a man of some national importance, is merely following long-standing practice in politics with respect to scientific guidance where it is sought for policy-making.

    This is everywhere across all areas of policy-making. In my own area, fisheries science, the EU Common Fisheries Policy has consistently rejected the powerfully-argued scientific rationale in favour of expediency, vacillation and the short-term self-interest of the vote-seeking politician.

    Today, in every report from Copenhagen, we see the debased weakness of the human species displayed in the lowest common denominator of conference political trade-offs.

    The worst politicians, and by this I mean those with least respect for the people they serve, cherry-pick phrases and paragraphs etc from the carefully-argued scientific reports to support the political standpoint.
    In evidence-based areas of policy this should of course be the other way around – the policy should evolve from the scientific evidence.

    But politics has always been the art of the possible. This is why political science is an oxymoron.

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  • 480. At 6:49pm on 16 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

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  • 481. At 02:35am on 16 Mar 2010, limzim2010 wrote:

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

  • 482. At 7:01pm on 28 Mar 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    Funny stuff :)

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  • 483. At 10:15am on 29 Mar 2010, John Ellis wrote:


    another one walks away.. just hours before mephedrone banned oh dear seems we are in true shambles..

    Nutt adds his bit

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  • 484. At 11:34am on 29 Mar 2010, John Ellis wrote:

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  • 485. At 10:54pm on 29 Mar 2010, Euforiater wrote:

    483: The "Nutt adds his bit" clip:
    One thing he didn't mention was the obvious solution; legalise a range of the most harmless and time-tested drugs, thereby providing a natural competitor to more harmful ones. You all know what I mean. "Give us a C!", "C!", "Give us an A!", "A!" etc..
    But then that'd put the cat amongst the pigeons for quite a few large commercial interests, won't it? Ah well, around the loop a few more decades then it'll be our children's problem..

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  • 486. At 03:01am on 17 Jul 2010, Mafficker wrote:

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

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