Professor Nutt has been sackedÂ by the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson. He has continually pushed the case for a more rational debate on the subject of drugs in society. The last straw for the government came when the professor said that alcohol and cigarettes were more dangerous than ecstacy and openly criticised the reclassification of cannabis from class C to a class B drug. He has also in the past said that taking ecstacy was no more dangerous than horse riding.
He has now come out and said that the government is acting like a bunch of Luddites and ignoring the true science on the subject.
The professor can afford the luxury of taking a 'purely objective scientific' view. In his perfect world drugs would be classified exactly according to risk and either taxed or outlawed accordingly. According to a paper he published yesterday “Alcohol ranks as the fifth most harmful drug after heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and methadone. Tobacco is ranked ninth. Cannabis, LSD and Ecstasy, while harmful, are ranked at 11, 14 and 18 respectively.”
But politicians carry the can for the decisions made. They have to be cogniscent of the views of the voters, however irrational. There are businesses and livelihoods at stake as well as the more important subject of liberty. As well as this there is the recent 'tradition' of open alcohol and tobacco use in this country. But politicians have also been known to misuse statistics for their own ends (for raising or maintaining tax levels for example).
What we need is a more open debate on the subject of drugs without the baggage of the lengthy 'war on drugs' and the shadow of tax revenue. It may actually mean a whole change in the public perception of which drugs are socially acceptable. But this will not happen directly as a result of a scientific paper and a sudden change in the law (look what happened with the US with prohibition). No, it takes time, debate and gradual change. That's what politicians are for.
You may be right about drugs professor, but advise and leave the execution to the politicians however flawed they are.