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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  • User Avatarstuart moran 1st Sep - 5:24am
    Richard Dean Perhaps, but you have clearly failed to raise any points of worth, answered any questions and seem to be happy to follow whatever...
  • User AvatarAntony Hook 31st Aug - 11:54pm
    I remember in 2003 (after IDS resigned) the consensus was that is Davis stood he would have won the Tory leadership. But he decided to...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 31st Aug - 11:52pm
    This is now definitely the Thread of the Big Waste of Time.
  • User Avatarstuart moran 31st Aug - 11:28pm
    Richard Dean A lot of times - why have you? Experience tells us there have been 57 deaths due to Islamic terrorism in the UK...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 31st Aug - 11:06pm
    @stuart moran Experience is a good teacher. Have you actually ever done a risk assessment?
  • User Avatarstuart moran 31st Aug - 10:28pm
    Richard Dean In the end our responses to any potential hazard have to be based on statistics - it is how all risk assessment is...