U.K.: Rival Drug Advice Panel Launched By Sacked Drugs Advisor


Graphic: Cannabis Culture
Professor David Nutt: “We’re going to focus on the science”

​An independent group, designed to give “politically neutral” information in the United Kingdom about the risks of drugs, is being launched.

The group is founded by the British government’s former chief drugs adviser, David Nutt, who was sacked last October for criticizing government drug policy and calling cannabis a relatively safe drug.
The Independent Council on Drug Harms, made up of about 20 specialists, will be “very powerful,” according to Nutt, and its goal will be to take over from the government-run Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), reports the BBC.

Photo: transform-drugs.blogspot.com
Hysteria has consequences: A wave of tabloid sensationalism in Britain resulted in harsher marijuana laws

​Several former and current ACMD members are among the specialists in drugs, addiction and medicine who have joined the group, which held its first private meeting Thursday.
The new group has secured funding for three years from a benefactor, according to home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw of the BBC. It is also being supported by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies think tank.
“We have a really very, very powerful grouping,” Professor Nutt said, “more powerful than the AC MD in the past has ever managed to pull together.”
Nutt said the new group will provide independent scientific evidence about drug effects.
“I think in a way we will take over that particular role of the ACMD,” Nutt said. “We’re going to focus on the science and the ACMD can continue, if it likes, to deal with issues about treatment provision, about social policy, etc.”
Nutt was sacked by Home Secretary Alan Johnson in October 2009 after publicly disagreeing with the government’s decision to re-classify cannabis, formerly Class C, as a more dangerous Class B drug.
Many observers, Nutt included, feel that the government’s reclassification decision was driven more by sensationalist tabloid hysteria than by science.
Five other ACMD members resigned after Nutt’s departure. Two other members also stepped down, but the Home Office claimed their departures were unrelated to Nutt’s sacking.
On Wednesday, the Home Office named pharmacologist Les Iversen as ACMD’s new chasirman. The appointment was quickly overshadowed by the news that Iversen had once backed the legalization of marijuana.