Last Word: Sacking of Prof Nutt is a travesty
THE sacking of Professor David Nutt, the Government s chief drug adviser, represents a major setback for both science and politics, writes Louise McEvoy. Prof Nutt was fired after he claimed in a paper that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than many i
THE sacking of Professor David Nutt, the Government's chief drug adviser, represents a major setback for both science and politics, writes Louise McEvoy.
Prof Nutt was fired after he claimed in a paper that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than many illegal drugs, including ecstasy, LSD and cannabis. He also criticised the Government's decision to reclassify cannabis to Class B, despite evidence it should remain a Class C drug.
Alan Johnson said: "I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy." This suggests the present drugs policy is subjective, and not evidence-based - as it surely should be. Scientists' research and the Government's policy on drugs should have a direct correlation, not conflict and confuse each other.
Scientists have a moral duty to educate and inform members of the public about risk, and Prof Nutt was purely publishing scientific research into illegal drug use.
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It is wholly undemocratic for the Government to suggest keeping information out of the public domain because it threatens to undermine policy. People should be armed with the facts.
The country's drugs policy is in complete disarray because, instead of making judgments based on scientific fact, the Government has been making decisions based on what is likely to be reported positively in the media.
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Scientists are wasting their time if years of painstaking research are simply disregarded by ministers.