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.

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarBelinda Brooks-Gordo 28th Jul - 2:15am
    Some of these points relate more to ALDE than to International Relations Committee, so maybe an outline of what the committee does Mark would be...
  • User AvatarTim 28th Jul - 12:54am
    Whether or not the border would become a “hard” border in the event of Brexit is a matter for the E.U., not for the U.K....
  • User AvatarRichard Gadsden 28th Jul - 12:28am
    1994 Cannabis motion was proposed by Saffron Walden.
  • User AvatarRob Banks 27th Jul - 11:01pm
    Hi Caron - at the time, in fairness, probably not :)
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 27th Jul - 10:59pm
    Interesting. Some frustrations. It's not helpful to be forced into single choices. The NHS - I would cut free access to non-essential and cosmetic services...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 27th Jul - 10:47pm
    The UK did not vote to leave the customs union, David Davis is over the top. There are big political risks in the USA in...
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