I’m a fan of Gordon Brown’s govt. and I’ve no shame in that, but the sacking of the chief drugs adviser Prof. David Nutt drew my fingers to a keyboard.
Prof. Nutt has made comments that are steeped in common sense but when skewed make him appear as some kind of demon.
He’s alleged that tobacco and alcohol are more dangerous than certain hard drugs such as ecstasy and LSD.
If you have a knee-jerk reaction, which some people do, it looks absurd, but when you you look at it realistically, he’s right.
The simple fact is that tobacco and alcohol are drugs too – legal ones that earn the govt. money and because they’re legal there’s less taboo about their consumption.
I neither drink, smoke or take recreational drugs (I’m as boring as they get), but I know that statistically the smoker or the drinker is more likely to die which is why there’s been aggressive campaigns at getting people to quit smoking and consume alcohol in moderation if they must.
While I’m no expert on LSD or ecstasy, the number of stories about deaths on these that have reached the news or indeed just local community gossip is far smaller.
I don’t think Prof. Nutt was that interested in comparing the like-for-like chemistry of chemicals rather than being very open about the risk of drink and cigarettes due to how socially acceptable they are and the fact that responsible drinking for those who do is becoming a minority.
Prof. Nutt also alleged that taking ecstasy was more safer than horse riding. Again, I’m no expert on horse riding but the numbers are there to show that the latter, due to its legality and popularity, means it’s more likely to take a life. That’s not to say people shouldn’t horse ride but they shouldn’t be in the dark about the risk.
Nowhere did Prof. Nutt endorse any drug, but he made valid comments that it’s pointless hunting for cannabis users whose risk for mental illness is in general minuscule than that of the ‘happy’ big weekend drinker. The key word that describes Prof. Nutt’s stance is perspective.
For Alan Johnson to sack him may appease some people and make Labour look like moral saviours, but the fact of the matter is they’ve just brushed the issue under the carpet.
In my network of friends and their friends and family I can count quite easily the mortalities of those on drink and tobacco. And I can count too those on hard drugs, but it’s much less because less people do them. Public education has informed most people not to try them, and if they do, with caution.
Too much of anything is bad for you, and unless the govt. recognise this (what were they thinking when they allowed 24/7 pubs and putting large health warnings on cigarettes but ‘still’ selling them? Oh, cash, of course.) they’re just going to go round and round in circles.
Another tragedy – that I agree with a Lib Dem MP on – is that even if Prof. Nutt was indeed ‘wrong’ (science evolves anyway) and universally abhorrent, he still shouldn’t have been sacked as he’s meant to be independent. The politicization of the role is wrong in itself. Debate is the order of the day. And we won’t have anymore if we now get a yes man.