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Europe: British Home Secretary's Firing of Drug Advisor Continues to Reverberate

Three more members of the British government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) quit Tuesday night after meeting with Home Secretary Alan Johnson in the wake of his firing of ACMD head Professor David Nutt. That brings to five the number of ACMD members who have resigned since Johnson fired Nutt two weeks ago for criticizing the government's reclassification of marijuana in the face of the ACMD's considered opinion that there was no evidence to justify reclassification.
David Nutt
Faced with a growing mutiny within the ACMD, the Home Office's official scientific panel on drug policy, and among the broader scientific community after firing Nutt, Johnson agreed to meet Tuesday with the group in an effort to contain the damage. He was only partly successful.

According to The Independent, the session was "tense," with some ACMD members wanting to accept his vows to value their future work, while others remained unhappy, over both the firing of Nutt and the government's decision to reclassify marijuana before it even got the ACMD's report.

The ACMD's views would be given "due weight" in the future, Johnson said, but he stood by his decision to fire Nutt. "I understand why the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was concerned about this," said Johnson. "Its major concern was because they felt Professor Nutt was being dismissed for his views. I reassured them that was not the case. There is a duty I think to accept that politicians make the final decision," he added. "At my meeting we talked constructively about the future, about what we can do to reassure the science community that their decisions are important to us and they are given due weight."

Johnson did make some concessions in a bid to quell the uproar. According to the BBC, he pledged to not make decisions on drug classification before the ACMD issues its advice and he pledged to explain in writing to the ACMD if he rejected its advice.

Johnson's refusal to reinstate Nutt led chemist Dr. Simon Campbell, psychologist Dr. John Marsden, and scientific consultant Ian Ragan to resign after the meeting. ACMD members Marion Walker and Dr. Les King resigned in protest over the firing last week.

Having the government listen to the ACMD's advice would be a pleasant change, Campbell told the BBC. "When we made our recommendation on cannabis we saw no reason to change the classification and yet the government has already decided to move from Class C to Class B," he said. "That can only be because the government saw it as a vote-catching exercise."

The ACMD usually has 31 members. Now it has 25. The government said it needs to have at least 20 members to function properly.

While the Home Office and the ACMD go at it, Professor Nutt is going his merry way. The Telegraph quoted Nutt as saying he may set up an independent drug council and that he has financial backing for the venture.

Speaking at the Center for Crime and Justice Studies last night, Nutt was tight with details. "There is the possibility we could set up an alternative committee. At least one charitable benefactor has come forward to fund it," he said, declining to name the benefactor.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Quid pro Quo: "It's the Taxes, Stupid"

Big 2Wackgo pays GBP10,000,000,000 into H. M. Treasury each year. Nuff said.

Lets have a UK national vote on drug policy!!

Its about time we found out the views of the public on drug policy issues and not just listen to what lying MP's say about the drug policy.

Join my facebook group and lets get a national vote happening.

A disgrace

An absolute outrage.

Further proof that the government don't give a monkeys about the people.

They want the people scared, and uninformed.

Very sad.


This decision firing Nutt has nothing to do with principles upheld by those acting in the field of imprisoning non-violent citizens. There are fascist elements from the 1920ies still being used by so called democratic politicians.

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