U.K. 'Drugs Tsar' Gets Sack for Telling the Truth


Last week British Home Secretary Alan Johnson fired University of Bristol neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt as chairman the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for failing to recognize that "his role is to advise rather than criticise." Translation: Nutt made the mistake of publicly telling the truth about drugs. In particular, he noted that the hazards posed by marijuana pale beside those associated with cigarettes and alcohol, and he said the British government's decision to move marijuana from Class C to Class B, which is associated with more severe penalties, was based on political rather than scientific considerations. Nutt had already attracted attention with a tongue-in-cheek Journal of Psychopharmacology article highlighting the hazards of "equasy" (a.k.a. horseback riding), the main point of which was that the dangers posed by MDMA (Ecstasy) have been greatly exaggerated. He also butted heads with Johnson's predecessor, Jacqui Smith, over the reclassification of cannabis. Two other members of the advisory council have resigned in protest of Nutt's sacking. But given his candor, it's surprising he got the job of "drugs tsar" to begin with and that he kept it as long as he did.

The BBC's Mark Easton has background here.

[Thanks to Hugh Akston for the tip.]