“Evidence-Based Views”

3 Nov




Short version for people who don’t like to do a lot of reading: David Nutt, the UK’s chief drug advisor has been fired after publicly disagreeing with government’s decision to increase the legal penalties for the posession of marijuana, as well as a ranking system in which tobacco and alcohol were placed higher than cannabis, LSD and ecstasy. The Government’s explanation for his firing is that his comments were misleading, and he was devaluing the harmful effects of various drugs.

This, of course, is bullshit. David Nutt made the terrible mistake of doing his job properly and his insistence that tobacco and alcohol be measured the same way as illegal drugs worries people who will lose money from their sale. It is also worth considering that if what the UK Government are basically suggesting that people cannot tell the difference between evidence and opinion, which is much more worrying.

I will do my best to avoid the old internet adage that the plural of anecdote is fact, but anyone who suggests that tobacco and alcohol are somehow safer than illegal drugs is moderately crazy. All drugs have their dangers, and I’ve seen enough of them to know that there are consequences to consider far beyond mere legality. Many of these could be dealt with in a more sophisticated and compassionate manner if all drugs became legal. A quick look outside will show that the war on drugs has failed, and a new way of thinking is needed.


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