Sunday, 1 November 2009

I'm with Alan

To date two of the panel that were appointed by the Government to advise the Government on drug policy have handed their cards in. Seems that there's a bit of bad feeling over Alan Johnson's decision to give Prof Nutt, the Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs his P45.

So what's it all about? The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is a panel of experts that advise the Government on Drug policy, providing evidence and expert opinion which will assist the Government in putting together a coherent and viable policy. Lately the panel have been advising the Government on the reclassification of Cannabis from a Class C to a Class B narcotic. But the Government have decided to continue with the reclassification which goes against the provided evidence from the panel.

So certain members of the panel, specifically Prof Nutt have decided that they will try and alter Government policy by acting outside of the panel. He had criticised the fact the Home Office had moved cannabis back to Class B, against the ACMD advice, and warned alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than both it and ecstasy.

In other words Prof Nutt has crossed the fence and entered the dirty world of politics. So Alan Johnson has put the mockers on Nutt's attempts to influence policy by sacking him.

So I'm with Alan.

Whether weed needs to be a Class B or a Class C has become irrelevant and not really something I care about. But I do care about democracy and that the formulation of policy has to lie with our elected leaders, not with scientists. How we live goes beyond science, beyond things that are black or white. I want to know that should I disagree with those who rule over us and create policy, that my vote can build them up or knock them down. Appointed scientists are beyond my reach.

Prof Nutt needs to understand that he was brought on board to advise, not create policy. Prof Nutt was appointed, he was not elected and his required impartiality was undermined by his own actions. And the other members who are jumping ship need to get a sense of their own importance or lack of it in the democratic process and stop throwing their toys out of the pram.