A retired Oxford professor who said marijuana was one of the “safer” drugs has become the United Kingdom’s chief drugs adviser — replacing a professor who was sacked for saying that marijuana is one of the safer drugs.
Pharmacology specialist Les Iversen has replaced David Nutt, who was sacked last October after saying cannabis was less harmful than alcohol and nicotine, and arguing that penalties against the herb had been upgraded to Class B for political reasons, reports James Slack at the Daily Mail.
Professor Iversen, who has served on the committee for five years, seems to share predecessor Nutt’s view that marijuana is just not that dangerous.
And after all, should it be that shocking that the world’s foremost experts on psychoactive drugs would have similar opinions regarding the relative safety of marijuana?
|The U.K. is apparently content to base its cannabis policy on hysteria rather than on science.|
Iversen called for cannabis to be legalized in a 2003 lecture. And in an article published that same year, he said cannabis had been “incorrectly” classified as a dangerous drug for nearly 50 years, and said it was one of the “safer” recreational drugs.
The professor, though, is already feeling the political heat — and maybe he doesn’t want to be ignominiously sacked as was Nutt.
When pressed Tuesday about his remarks, Iversen told BBC Radio Five Live: “That was a view I had in 2003. A great deal has happened since then.”
Distressingly, Iversen also retreated to the hysterical point of view unfortunately so popular in Britain — that a new, potent strain of marijuana known in the popular press as “Skunk” has suddenly, out of all character for cannabis, somehow become dangerous.
Iversen pointed to the “new evidence linking stronger types of cannabis, such as skunk,” to psychiatric illness, adding: “I think cannabis for the time being is past history.”
Judging by those spineless remarks, one could conclude that impartial science is what has become past history in the U.K.
At what point, exactly, did the Brits decide to rule by tabloid headline rather than by scientific research?
Debra Bell, with the reefer-madness style hysterical anti-pot group Talking About Cannabis, quickly rushed to enable the professor’s abandonment of science and embrace of tabloid hysteria.
“Everyone has the right to change their mind, and I’m delighted he has done so,” Bell said. “He appears, too, to accept that the Advisory Council is just that — ‘advisory’ — and that, unlike Professor Nutt’s views, it is the Government’s prerogative to reject the Council’s advice.”
Can one be forgiven for concluding that what Debra really means is that “Here is a housebroken scientist who, it is hoped, meekly accepts the toothlessness and irrelevance of his position”?
In the wake of Professor Nutt’s sacking in October, five other members of the drugs panel subsequently resigned in protest of how anti-drug politics trumped science in deciding to punish Nutt for speaking out. It would seem that all those still remaining on the panel have been brought to heel.
…But There’s Room For Hope
|Bruce Mirken: “I simply do not believe Professor Iversen has become a rabid prohibitionist”|
Bruce Mirken, former communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, told Toke of the Town that, despite the political posturing, Professor Iversen’s appointment to chair the drugs task force is very good news.
“Iversen’s book, The Science of Marijuana, is quite good and eminently sane,” Mirken, who still closely follows marijuana research and policy, told us.
“Despite the British government’s abominable behavior toward David Nutt, this is outstanding news — and an appointment that, frankly, no U.S. president would dare make.”
“While I understand that many will be disappointed in his latest remarks, I simply do not believe Professor Iversen has become a rabid prohibitionist,” Mirken told Toke of the Town.
“But how he behaves in the job — particularly the next time politics clashes with science — will be the real test.”