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 AvatarDavid-1 28th Feb - 4:40am
    Feelings of extreme guilt lead, as a measure of compensation, to dishonesty to oneself ("what I did wasn't so bad, probably even good if you...
  • User AvatarJohn Proffitt 28th Feb - 4:34am
    HM Armed Forces can be deployed at any time in the event of a crisis or an emergency. One must not forget that on completion...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 28th Feb - 2:11am
    It is profoundly sad that so many Lib Dems still choose to pretend that it is all about the fairest scheme to fund Universities and...
  • User AvatarPhilip Rolle 28th Feb - 1:41am
    Every Lib Dems criticise Labour's policy on this, they enable the debate to be focused back onto "Clegg and the Lib Dems lied to you"....
  • User AvatarCharlie 28th Feb - 12:46am
    Rifkind/Straw's actions are just another examples of a decline in integrity : people want rank and reward but not responsibility. No manager at the BBC...
  • User Avatarmalc 28th Feb - 12:46am
    Duncan Scott This was a headline policy that had to be right in time for the GE, it doesn't matter how long it took to...
Sat 28th Feb 2015
Sun 1st Mar 2015
Mon 2nd Mar 2015
18:30
Wed 4th Mar 2015
Sat 7th Mar 2015
Sun 8th Mar 2015
Wed 11th Mar 2015
Fri 13th Mar 2015
Sat 14th Mar 2015
Wed 18th Mar 2015