Monday, November 02, 2009

More Nutt ...

Blimey. The Tories are right about something. As Conservative Home puts it :

The Conservatives - who also disagree with the ACMD position on cannabis - backed the decision to sack Professor Nutt. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling issued this statement:

“This was an inevitable decision after his latest ill-judged contribution to the debate but it is a sign of lack of focus at the Home Office that it didn’t act sooner given that he has done this before.”

As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong) Nutt offered advice, HMG didn't take it, Nutt threw toys out of pram. Not by publishing figures which showed (I leave methodology etc out of it*) that cannabis was less dangerous than alcohol/fags, something which is quite possible, but by explicitly saying the decision was wrong. At which point you can see why Alan Johnson lost patience with him. How can you ask someone for advice if the deal is that you HAVE to accept it or the adviser will go public on his disgreements ? At that point you may as well hand over policy to the adviser and democracy goes out of the window.

(* As for his brilliant insight that ecstasy is less dangerous than horse-riding, shooting up smack is a lot safer than climbing in the Himalayas - something which the government has no intention of outlawing. Therefore why on earth is heroin illegal ?

And anyone who thinks scientists are a bunch of disinterested, non-political types doesn't know anything about the history of science. Scientific disputes can be some of the nastiest around and can make politics look almost clean.

And on skunk, see the comments to my earlier post. That weed is a lot more powerful than the stuff Jacqui Smith used to smoke and Bill Clinton failed to inhale.)

UPDATE - Professor Bruce Charlton (of whom more in a day or two) on foolish people of high intelligence. Love the ending :

I should in all honesty point-out that I recognize this phenomenon from the inside. In other words, I myself am a prime example of a ‘clever silly’; having spent much of adolescence and early adult life passively absorbing high-IQ-elite-approved, ingenious-but-daft ideas that later needed, painfully, to be dismantled. I have eventually been forced to acknowledge that when it comes to the psycho-social domain, the commonsense verdict of the majority of ordinary people throughout history is much more likely to be accurate than the latest fashionably-brilliant insight of the ruling elite. So, this article has been written on the assumption, eminently-challengeable, that although I have nearly-always been wrong in the past – I now am right….


Molly said...

This is all excellent news, and only the first step to implement the coming total prohibition of ALL recreational drugs.

Alcohol and tobacco are many times worse than cannabis!!!

Mark my words, within 5 years there will be no pubs, no tobacco and no alcohol in the UK.

This is something we should celebrate and thank Prof. Nutt for, because we now have the moral and logical arguments to end freedom to booze and smoke in the UK!

Anonymous said...

I presume Molly is being ironic.

I mean, she sounds totally sarcastic but I'm not sure.

TDK said...

re: Bruce Charlton.

More here

Anonymous said...

I presume Molly is being ironic.

I mean, she sounds totally sarcastic but I'm not sure.

She's being very consistent if so. She made the same argument on the other thread on Nutt.

By the way, Molly, I don't think Nutt's given any "moral" arguments here.

Homophobic Horse said...

This argument about drugs today basically rests on an appeal to self interest, and that it is only ok to restrict something when it is physically very dangerous.

This is the way we are now.

We cannot appeal to dignity because we have no shame.

We cannot appeal to beauty, because we have no taste.

We cannot appeal to the truth of the soul, because we don't believe we have souls now.

We are left with only an appeal to raw physical self interest.

That's enlightenment.

There's a darker world underneath the fatuous lights of the night-club and the deadening highs of intoxication, the world of Gulag. For Gulag is the logical end result of the denial of God - which makes life become an absurd struggle against inevitable death, life becomes a prison camp of pointless and torturous labour for objectives you don't understand, life is pointless and filled with only meaningless distractions from a final ending that moots all action and inaction alike. That's the real spiritual meaning of Gulag, and atheism, and materialism: prison of the soul.

And in our enlightened west the Gulag is the consumer toys, the mind destroying intoxicants, the services and data based economy, the sterile sex and shallow relationships, the hypocritical appeals to self interest for manipulating others (particularly in advertising and politics), the vague and unhinged post-modern language, the song lyrics, the mangled repetitive melodies, the anti-aesthetic art galleries -- all of them whisper the same lie: there is no truth, all is a lie.

And that's why drug taking wrong, because living a life of lies is wrong.

Pat said...

It is of course vital that drug dealing be restricted to the criminal classes. without it many would be forced to take honest jobs, and wouldn't have occasion to shoot each other, far less innocent bystanders. Their customers would likely be able to afford the product without resorting to crime and would likely recieve what they ordered rather than a mixture of poisons. This would seriously reduce the demands on both the police and the NHS- and we really want to spend as much money on them as possible. And of course with all those resources freed up the NHS could get on with healing the sicke, the police could catch criminals, there'd be space in prison to put them- and there might even be enough labour left over to fix the roads. Of course if this were to happen there would also be a serious reduction in dramatic accounts for the papers to publish, and their circulation figures are bad enough as it is.
No, we must ignore the customs of hundreds of years and go with the government funded propoganda of the last forty for all the above reasons, but primarily to stop you, your friends and your family from blowing yourselves away on drugs- clearly you think the law is the only thing that limits their consumption. I wonder how you cope with all that legal alcohol?

Anonymous said...


Just as it's easy to work out (unless you're Sean Penn) which place is best by counting the number of people swimming from Cuba to the US and comparing it with the number swimming in the opposite direction, I hereby offer an exhaustive list of those countries where cannabis is legal:


I think their competitive advantage over we authoritarian plodders is clear for all to see. Personally, I can't wait until the UK joins that noble list.

Anonymous said...

I must have been stone while compiling that list since I omitted:

Czech Republic

India allows its use in certain Hindu rituals; o/w the law makes it illegal to possess any form of the drug.

Molly said...


Of course he has given us the moral clout now to end boozing and smoking in the UK -- the Professor's list is crystal clear, alcohol and tobacco are worse than cannabis which is a killer drug (as Laban himself rightly points out) and illegal because of this, so, it's a no-brainer to extend the prohibition to alcohol and tobacco.

There is nothing sarcastic about it -- it's just consistent.

The scientific evidence i clear: total prohibition of all drugs is the way forward and people who waffle on about tradition because they want to hang on to their drugs are pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Its also instructive to note all those white middle class vocal libertarians jostling in the queues at Heathrow for the next flight to Sierra Leone or Somalia, given that the state has ceased to exist in those places.

Oh when will this brain drain to Africa cease?!

One could perhaps say that about

JuliaM said...

"The scientific evidence i clear: total prohibition of all drugs is the way forward and people who waffle on about tradition because they want to hang on to their drugs are pathetic."

And those people who point out that it does not, and cannot, work? Are they all druggies too?

Unknown said...

Not at all clear cut. I agree that it was right to sack Professor Nutt for the same reasons Laban gives, (and I hate agreeing with anything zaNuLabour do).

I also think the Professor is clearly wrong. "E" may be relatively safe, (I have heard its effects can be countered with a dose of Vitamin C), but Cannabis is probably more harmful than heroin - there is a significant minority of the population who are susceptible to serious mental illness because of its psychoactive nature.

Heroin on the other hand is just a painkiller with a very wide safety tolerance zone - not easy to overdose on, (although it depresses respiration), but doing no lasting harm on its own.

The real harm is by making these illegal they become widely available, just as happened with alcohol during Probihibition in the United States. And being illegal, purity and safety go out of the window. Whether that be going blind on bathtub gin during Prohibition or accidentally overdosing on "heroin" that has been "cut" with scouring powder.

Drugs Policy is a complete mess and is such an emotive issue that it needs to be viewed in a completely rational and dispassionate fashion. And in this respect Professor Nutt failed and failed badly.

TDK said...

Isn't cannabis legal (or at least not policed) in the Netherlands?

And if we want to be complete we ought to look at the historical record. Before the prohibitionist era, drugs such as cannabis were legal in Britain. The important point being that it was legal at a time when Britain was moving up in the world and was made illegal before British decline.

I don't want to be simplistic here as 11:59 Anon appears to be.

I think the overarching difference between the Victorian era and today is that there was a moral code of self restraint and personal responsibility which is the polar opposite of today's attitudes. Today's elite think drugs are mind expanding at best and a legitimate excuse for failure (and victimhood) at worst.

The ultimate point being that there is no point having a law (or a tougher law) against drugs unless the moral code is restored to something like the Victorian version.

Anonymous said...

Somebody made a good point in one of the papers the other day that making cannabis legal would open the door to all manner of new designer drugs for recreation. After all, the reason why currently these drugs are banned is because we believe they do some harm to the individuals that take them. Make cannabis legal and you are permitting that some drugs with limited harm are OK, despite the mood altering affects. But cannabis is an "accidental" drug - it grows naturally and is not a designer drug. What happens when big pharma gets in on the act? They can offer substances less harmful than cannabis but more intoxicating than alcohol. Any mood change you felt like experiencing at any time could be offered. There would be a huge market. On what basis could you stop such a development once one recreational drug has been legalised? Cannabis would quicky become passé. Ecstacy would be seen as nothing more than an early protoype for these new drugs. These new drugs would very likely replace alcohol in the public's affections. Pubs would close as recreational drug use became a private matter rather than a social matter. We would never know if we were talking to the real person or the mind altered person.

We already question whether our current PM is taking prescription mood altering drugs and wonder if such things might be contributing to his poor performance as leader of the nation. What hope would we have if every kind of mind-altering drug was available to all and as popular as a pint at the local?

It seems to me that legalising mind altering substances is a dangerous road to travel down.

Anonymous said...



I assure you I was not being simplistic. If, as the legalisers argue, there are so many advantages and no downsides to legalisation, then it is a mystery why not a single country in the "First World" has even experimented with it.

Rob said...

What Molly wants is a fascist state, no more, no less.

On the subject of allegedly very clever people believing stupid things, I refer you to the Archdruid of Canterbury and his passion for Sharia Law.

TDK said...

Anon 1:26pm

Wiki says:

Cannabis remains a controlled substance in the Netherlands and both possession and production for personal use are still misdemeanors, punishable by fine. Coffee shops are also technically illegal according to the statutes but, as has been said, are flourishing nonetheless. However, a policy of non-enforcement has led to a situation where reliance upon non-enforcement has become common, and because of this the courts have ruled against the government when individual cases were prosecuted.

I claimed or at least not policed) in the Netherlands?

"not enforced" or "not policed". It seems you want to split hairs.