In a surprise move, Britain’s top drug adviser was fired yesterday. His crime? He criticised the reclassification of cannabis and said alcohol and cigarettes were more dangerous than marijuana.
All very embarrassing for the British government who, despite protests from the country’s scientific community, reclassified marijuana earlier this year, toughening the penalties for possession.
David Nutt was disappointed by the move and told Sky News that it might well have something to do with the fast approaching general election. In the broadcast telephone interview, he said,
“…politics is politics and science is science and there’s a bit of a tension between them sometimes.”
The Home Office confirmed that Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology, had been asked to resign and said it would be seeking a replacement shortly.
Nutt’s views on marijuana shouldn’t have been a surprise to the government; back in 2007 he published an article in The Lancet that expressed similar views. However, his recent comments during lecture at the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College in London, would not have endeared him to the men in high places; Nutt accused former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of “distorting and devaluing” research. He said Smith’s decision to tighten restrictions on marijuana as a precautionary step had undermined public faith in government science. He went on to say,
“I think we have to accept young people like to experiment – with drugs and other potentially harmful activities – and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives. If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you are probably wrong.”
Sounds like we’ve lost a very sensible man.