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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 9 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDenis Loretto 9th Oct - 6:29pm
    Coming upon this thread, I think the most telling point is the first post by John Marriott. The last thing we want is a series...
  • User AvatarChris_sh 9th Oct - 6:18pm
    @AM "But If housing needs aren’t meeting demand – then one assumes one very effective solution is to build more houses" & "We could stop...
  • User AvatarRoland 9th Oct - 6:01pm
    " Corbyn had some interesting things to say today in praise of businesses who practise social responsibility, and about using the “corporate welfare” support structure...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 9th Oct - 5:49pm
    Forgot to stand? That just about sums them up, doesn't it?
  • User AvatarRoland 9th Oct - 5:48pm
    Manfarang - "Ah yes the kids I went to school with who had an Italian mother. " Yes fond memories of visiting a girlfriend at...
  • User AvatarRoland 9th Oct - 5:42pm
    "As regards comments on housing stock all that tells me is we need to build more houses. I am uncomfortable with people linking it to...