Tag Archives: lancet

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
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMichael BG 19th Aug - 1:57am
    @ David Raw One should assume it was the majority decision of the Federal Policy Committee who set the terms of reference for the Social...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 19th Aug - 1:50am
    David R., you and Lorenzo have put me in fits of laughter, which is a nice way to end the night, thank you! But, David,...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 19th Aug - 12:16am
    David Raw You can mock all night but several goes does not deal with substantive comments yours , mine , any. I say I am,...
  • User Avatarfrankie 18th Aug - 11:20pm
    Riverside (Aylesbury Vale) result: CON: 34.7% (+3.7) LDEM: 32.9% (+17.4) LAB: 24.2% (+6.5) UKIP: 5.5% (-30.3) GRN: 2.6% (+2.6) Interesting to see the Lib Dems...
  • User AvatarMartin 18th Aug - 10:28pm
    Surely it is time to stop harking on about the EU,which will soon be history as far as Britain is concerned,and to start thinking about...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 18th Aug - 10:21pm
    @ Michael BG "I recall that the Social Security Policy Group was told not to include any new spending in its proposals. A clear failure...