Drugs are bad mkay?

“In war, truth is the first casualty” – Aeschylus

Picture: DEA (PD)

An interesting piece from the Reuters news agency:

(Reuters) – The presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala all called for a vigorous global debate of anti-narcotics laws at the United Nations on Wednesday, raising new questions about the wisdom of the four-decade-old, U.S.-led “war on drugs.”

Although none of the leaders explicitly called for narcotics to be legalized, they suggested at the U.N. General Assembly that they would welcome wholesale changes to policies that have shown scant evidence of limiting drug flows while contributing to massive violence throughout Latin America.

“It is our duty to determine – on an objective scientific basis – if we are doing the best we can or if there are better options to combat this scourge,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.

[My emphasis]

The article in full is here.

Meanwhile UK national broadcaster Channel 4 is this week presenting two live shows about Ecstacy, with the help of volunteers who are sampling the drug and reporting their (on the whole positive) experiences. The programme is being made with the help of Professor David Nutt.

For those who have not heard of him David Nutt is a scientist who was sacked from his role on the UK Government’s ‘Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs’ by the politician Alan Johnson. Professor Nutt, after looking at the evidence, had decided in his scientific opinion that the UK had overestimated the harm done by a number of prohibited recreational drugs. His research was published in the highly respected scientific journal The Lancet in 2007 and it begins with the following:

Drug misuse and abuse are major health problems. Harmful drugs are regulated according to classification systems that purport to relate to the harms and risks of each drug. However, the methodology and processes underlying classification systems are generally neither specified nor transparent, which reduces confidence in their accuracy and undermines health education messages.

[The Lancet my emphasis]

Professor Nutt’s scientific approach is impressive but unfortunately the issue of transparency was pushed to one side by the personal opinions of career politician and staunch union man Alan Johnson, who incidentally left school at the age of 15 to stack shelves in a supermarket.

Johnson sacked Nutt and declared in a letter to The Guardian:

“Professor Nutt was not sacked for his views, which I respect but disagree with [...] He was asked to go because he cannot be both a government adviser and a campaigner against government policy.”

It’s an interesting position. Johnson made a point of taking full responsibility for the decision to sack the Professor in an angry and confused interview on Sky News at the time. The issue of transparency and honesty was central to the national debate provoked. The controversy split the Government’s advisory panel with a number of other members resigning from their positions as a result.

It’s tempting to think the time for honesty on this issue might be upon us. Channel 4 broadcasts part two of their programme tonight at 10pm UK time. Last night’s installment attracted just over two million viewers. It had an amusingly named scientist on to unquestioningly repeat the Government’s official position. Step forward Professor Parrott(!) of Swansea University.

Did you watch the shows on Channel 4? Please post your review in the comments section…

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  • Boris Grushenko

    “It is our duty to determine – on an objective scientific basis . . .”

    Yes, but objectivity is subjective.

  • Boris Grushenko

    “It is our duty to determine – on an objective scientific basis . . .”

    Yes, but objectivity is subjective.

    • kowalityjesus

      they need an open session where all the bureaucrats get together and try the drugs.

      • Matt Staggs

        Can we choose who gets what?

      • Matt Staggs

        Can we choose who gets what?

        • kowalityjesus

          They only get to vote on the laws involving certain drugs if they attend functions in a venue associated with the recreational use of corollary drug, while high on said drug.  Otherwise how would they know what they are legislating against? lol

          • Matt Staggs

             THECRYSTALMETHSUBCOMMITTEEISNOWCALLEDTOORDERIVOTEFORMYGODTHEBUGSTHEBUGSTHEBUGSSKINCRAWLINGTEETHINMYSKIN

          • kowalityjesus

            LOL! Its a surefire way to root out corruption.

          • kowalityjesus

            LOL! Its a surefire way to root out corruption.

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        What they really need is an open session where all the bureaucrats get together and get machine-gunned.

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        What they really need is an open session where all the bureaucrats get together and get machine-gunned.

        • BunkersTrust

          In a democracy you can vote them out of office; their removal from office and trials will be sufficient. 

        • BunkersTrust

          In a democracy you can vote them out of office; their removal from office and trials will be sufficient. 

          • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

            As long as those trials result in aforementioned machine-gunning, that may be sufficient.

          • Alpha Hog

            Problem is that you can’t vote one out of office without giving another guy a default victory.  They’re never just going to leave the presidency of the u.s. open, go home and forget about it.

            All a guy has to do is be slightly less annoying than the next guy, wait 4 years and his crimes against the constitution will be given de facto legitimacy by the fact that no one ever prosecutes him.

          • Alpha Hog

            Problem is that you can’t vote one out of office without giving another guy a default victory.  They’re never just going to leave the presidency of the u.s. open, go home and forget about it.

            All a guy has to do is be slightly less annoying than the next guy, wait 4 years and his crimes against the constitution will be given de facto legitimacy by the fact that no one ever prosecutes him.

          • Auto5734955

             Yeah……….right………

      • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

        What they really need is an open session where all the bureaucrats get together and get machine-gunned.

    • Auto5734955

       It also depends on how much you pay the scientist to find what you want.  Kind of like what Bill Clinton said, “…all depends on what your definition of  ‘is’, is.”

  • 1captainhooker1

     ”He was asked to go because he cannot be both a government adviser and a campaigner against government policy.”

    So why have an advisor?

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    still avoids the greater question
    why is a government involved in what is obviously a personal matter

    and since Uncle Homeland is the world’s largest purveyor of drugs
    legal & illegal
    nothings gonna change without major push-back from Uncle Homeland

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    still avoids the greater question
    why is a government involved in what is obviously a personal matter

    and since Uncle Homeland is the world’s largest purveyor of drugs
    legal & illegal
    nothings gonna change without major push-back from Uncle Homeland

  • Petedavi

    gas, grass, or ass–prove it increases taxes, it will happen

  • Petedavi

    gas, grass, or ass–prove it increases taxes, it will happen

  • Martin Hayes

    I watched the show. It was a bit of a circus. Sometimes I think the Brits are too congenial for their own good. This is a serious business. The ‘brief moment of sanity,’ as the MDMA experience has been described, is a precious thing denied to us by international convention, which makes states powerless to effect necessary changes in their drug laws even as they continue to imprison us for daring to explore our consciousness. Or party on Ibiza. Whichever.