David Nutt is a professor at Imperial College London and until last week was also chairman of the UK government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He was dismissed last week by Home secretary Alan Johnson, presumably for disagreeing with the government policy on upgrading certain Class C drugs to a Class B.
Professor Nutt has written a critical article appearing in The New Scientist today about how governments can get it wrong by not heeding their advisors when cementing policy.
Some telling excerpts are:
“Policies that ignore the realities of the world we live in are doomed to fail. This is true for just about all the biggest issues that we confront, from energy and climate to criminal justice, health and immigration. I’m not arguing that science dictate policy; considerations such as cost, practicality and morality also have a role. But scientific evidence should never be brushed aside from the political debate.”
“On ecstasy, for example, it made policy first, sought advice second – and cynically rejected the advice it was given. The result is shambolic policy-making which gives great cause for concern if that is how governments operate more generally.”
“The results of a government inventing its own reality and acting on it can be seen in the appalling consequences the George W. Bush presidency had for world peace, the environment and human rights.”
You can find the article here. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18099-david-nutt-governments-should-get-real-on-drugs.html
Here Chief Scientific Advisor Professor John Beddington backs him up saying research showing the drug to be less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes was “absolutely clear cut”,