Tag Archives: ecstacy

Opinion: The Nutt affair – or, the thin line between evidence and policy

Firstly, a disclaimer: I am a scientist, who is also interested in governance and politics, so the following post may come across as somewhat heated. Apologies, but I do feel that the recent furore over Prof. David Nutt’s sacking as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) goes right to the heart of why I took up both science and politics as profession and interest respectively.

We begin with Prof. Nutt’s most recent criticism of the government’s drugs policy, which attracted headlines for claiming that alcohol, despite being legal and freely available, was more harmful than the Class A narcotic ecstasy (MDMA). At first sight this may seem like an outlandish statement to make, but the evidence, collated by Prof. Nutt, suggests otherwise; granted, the recent publication from Nutt’s The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College London wasn’t peer-reviewed, but the methodologies used to calculate his ‘harm index’ were so, and published in one of the most respected medical journals, The Lancet in 2007 (the full article is behind a paywall, contact me if you want the pdf…). Just to repeat this – using what seems to me to be a robust method, taking into account everything from physical harm to the user to social harms at large, ecstasy does indeed seem to be less dangerous than alcohol, and it’s using this tried and tested method of enquiry that Nutt used to conclude that cannabis should remain a class C drug.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul Walter 6th May - 7:25pm
    Sean Sometimes it is wiser to let the wheels of the Electoral Commission and the police slowly and inexorably turn.
  • User Avatarjohnmc 6th May - 7:00pm
    this is sad, but hopefully there'll be other opportunities for kirsty soon.
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 6th May - 6:56pm
    Indeed, Hugh p. To remind you of what I responded to one of Silvio's repetitive (and now confirmed massively wrong) postings 3 days ago: @SILVIO...
  • User AvatarSean Blake 6th May - 6:55pm
    I saw it, but it stopped there and with the upcoming elections our small band never made a sound at PMQs. I don't know about...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 6th May - 6:47pm
    Looking ahead, IF we do get a string of Byelections, the Leadership should take control of Candidate selection & ensure that at least two thirds...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 6th May - 6:31pm
    Sean We did cover the story here on 21st April. The new element about the story which the BBC has revealed is the police investigations...
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