By Erris Healy
The Chief Drug Advisor for the government Professor David Nutt has been fired. Nutt declared that cannabis is actually less dangerous or addictive than alcohol or nicotine. This statement has caused outrage within the government as they recently reclassified cannabis from a class C to a class B to try and decrease its use.
As cannabis is now a class B drug this is putting it in the same category as drugs such as Amphetamines, Pholcodine and Ritalin all which are highly addictive.
If Nutt is correct and alcohol and cigarettes are evidently worse for your health then surely these substances should be included too if not even ranked higher.
Mr. Alan Johnson who fired Professor Nutt said “he has crossed the line”.
there are growing concerns over predicted resignation from the government advisory body. Nutts unfair dismissal has caused a lot of controversy. Two drug experts have already resigned. Dr. Les King for the Advisory Council on the misuse of Drugs said Nutts dismissal denied his right to ‘freedom of speech’ and since Kings resignation, Marion Walker, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has also resigned for similar reasons.
This provoked resignation has put a lot of pressure on the government as these experts are vital to the governments actions involving drug legislation, classification and ultimately healthcare. It is feared that if the backlash of resignation continues it will not be long before the the department can not operate.
A spokesperson for the home office said ” the home secretary has expressed disappointment over Professor Nutts comments which damage efforts to give the public clear messages about the dangers of drugs.”
Cannabis is a serious issue in todays society. A survey from the TIS (tobacco information Scotland) showed “35% of 17-39 year olds had smoked cannabis at some point in their lives.” It also showed that “11% of 15 year olds reported that they had used cannabis in the last month.”
Nutt is correct. The first British person to die from Cannabis died in 2004. He has been the only victim reported to date. Dr. Philip Guy, a lecturer in addictions at the University of Hull said “To die from smoking cannabis is unheard of.”
when you compare this evidence to statistics from the office for national statistics which show ” The alcohol related death rate was 13.3% per 100,000 population in 2007. this had increased from 6.5% per 100,000 population in 1991.”
“We fully support the work of the ACMD and remain committed to considering the independent advice and evidence it and other visionary bodies provide to the government. However the clear role of the Chair of the ACMD is to provide independent scientific advice and not to lobby for changes in policy.”-Alan Johnsons response.
Johson is clearly concerned for the publics health and does not want to relax the image of cannabis. Was sacking Nutt a step too far? if the experts keep supporting their colleague and resigning who is going to monitor drug use?