Chemist gets canned over cannabis
If you’re eager for misinformation about drugs, you probably don’t have to look any further than your lounge’s bulletin board. After education rife with unsubstantiated claims (testicular shrinkage, psychosis and the eternally unproven “amotivational syndrome”) many of this generation have grown desensitized to the use of such scare tactics. Even widely repeated claims, like the marijuana-cancer link, are usually unproven.
In short, the culture makers responsible for the war on drugs have made it obvious that scientific integrity is not among their concerns. Never has this been more obvious than in the fall 2009 firing of British psychopharmacologist David Nutt.
The Cambridge-educated Nutt was appointed as chairman of the British government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. During his tenure as chairmen, Nutt produced a report that pointing out the oft exaggerated dangers in recreational cannabis use. Nutt’s report compared several common street drugs based on ease of habit forming, and chance of physical harm. It produced this now famous graph:
Nutt published these findings in a pamphlet, in which he argued that marijuana posed less social and physical risk than alcohol and tobacco, and that the government’s scheduling of it and other drugs, like LSD, and MDMA, was based on political goals and not on scientific evidence. The claims made few waves among Nutt’s peers; UK Chief Scientific Advisor described the evidence he laid out as “clear cut.” The pamphlet did, however, catch the ire of Homeland Secretary Alan Johnson, who dismissed Nutt as chairman for “campaigning against government policy.”
Nutts sacking was followed by a “mass resignation” of government scientists, lead by doctors Les King and Marion Walker. In its wake, Nutt has financed an entirely new body, The Independent Council on Drug Harms, which began its investigations in January. Nutt has said that the council will focus on investigating the dangers of new, synthetic street drugs, and that they have a continued commitment to providing accurate, unbiased information to the public.
The ongoing war on drugs is perhaps the most entrenched home of anti-scientific attitudes in a so called “enlightened” age. As the medicinal uses of marijuana are expanded, that particular drug will work its way into growing cultural acquiescence. But users curious about other harmless substances, like LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA will still be criminalized, and potentially dangerous drugs will remain in widespread use. Our cultural approach true drug policy needs reforming; to bring it away from folklore and fairytale, and within the realm of tested, medical reality.
Readers, enjoy your 4:20
Funfact: The tradition of “420″ is not based on police code or on the number of chemicals in the marijuana plant. According to High Times reporter Stephen Bloom, the term originated with a group of San Rafael, CA, high school students, simply because they lit up every day after school at or around 4:20 pm.
Posted in TechnoLogical