ACMD Membership

As a member of the ACMD, I just want to correct some of the impression given in the media about the Council’s membership. 

We’re not all pure scientists – in fact, some of us, myself included, are not scientists at all. 

I have 15 years’ experience as Chief Executive of first, a street drugs agency, then a charity trying to improve standards in drug misuse prevention practice and policy for young people. 

I feel privileged and at the same time qualified to work with the top scientists and the other Council members to review evidence and consider what we should recommend to Government.

This has included recommendations not just about drug classification but also about campaigns, drugs education and prevention and supporting vulnerable families. The ACMD has carried out very important pieces of work in all of these fields; it hasn’t just focussed on criminal justice recommendations or assessing pharmacological effects of particular drugs. 

ACMD’s reports and recommendations have harnessed expertise not only of scientists but also social scientists, police officers, the probation service, a judge, people who have managed drug treatment agencies and experts in drug prevention and education (sorry colleagues if I’m missing anyone out!). We have also actively sought advice from external experts and practitioners and the public, including young people, to help us in our work.

 I’ve just been reading C. Wright Mills “The Sociological Imagination” from 1959!

“It is the human meaning and the social role of science…its political significance that are undergoing confused re-appraisal.”

Advertisements

38 responses to “ACMD Membership

  1. These views are unacceptable – How dare you contradict the Home Secretary.

    You’ve crossed the line into politics.

    You’re sacked.

  2. I’m in my 25th year of working in academic drug research, and given what I’ve seen of how the ‘laws of physics’ can easily be bent into Government approved lies by the vast sums of money spent on the ‘war on drugs’, I am pleased to hear that it is not just scientists who sit on the ACMD.

    However why are there no actual experts on the ACMD? Can we imagine advisory councils on, ethnicity, gender, sex, religion, disability- where only able-bodied, ‘straight’ White Christian men were allowed?

    Keith Richards has more right to be on the ACMD than any representative from those currently ensconced there, promoting their partial self-interests as they sit in judgement of others.

  3. I would think that quite a number of ACMD members have had quite a lot of face to face expertise across a range of drug fronts. This has led them into the field in many cases. Just because you weren’t caught or open about your use doesn’t mean you haven’t got practical experience.

  4. BTW, what are the odds on a certain gent from Glasgow becoming the chair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. If you mean the Glasgow gent who once told me he’d leave Scotland if the SNP ever got in (but who since have, and who he now advises on drug policy – according to one newspaper this week), I think he might wait till after the election.

  6. But returning to my original point, I dont know how much experience ACMD members have of the issues personally, what concerns me is that nobody is there to represent the interests of those groups who need to be represented most – i.e. where’s the user involvement?

    • Alasdair, I agree that getting ‘user’ input is important and I had taken on the task of recommending to them how best to do this, but not in a tokenistic way. I am booked to go to a seminar to find out how other committees do this in a meaningful way. In terms of reviews of specific drugs, the evidence gathering has included getting some input from users/ex-users. However, I do think it’s important to remember that different people have different drugs experiences with different drugs at different times.

  7. Eric, I pleased to hear that you are doing this. I’ve never written in a blog before (and might not ever again after this note), and it was your comment about seeking advice from other groups in the population that spurred me to write.
    Thanks for your patience.

    • Alasdair, I really appreciate your comments. I am a fairly new blogger also but am impressed how effective it is to stimulate discussion and debate. I hope you will continue.

      And re-user input again, I think that it’s important to remember that we don’t always know everything about everyone we encounter. For example, when I was managing HIV/AIDS services I had a real argument with one of our service users who was asserting that being a person with HIV gave him more expertise than anyone else. It certainly gave him important knowledge and experience and perspective but the doctor treating him also had expertise to bring to the table. The key was to get the communication going between the two so that the service user felt engaged and empowered in making decisions about his treatment and care. And of course, none of us knew who among us was HIV positive as it hadn’t been a qualification for being engaged in the discussion/decision-making.

      Apart from not knowing about other people’s experiences, I think that it’s important to remember that, although we share characteristics with others, our own experiences are personal. For drug use for example, if I’m taking drugs to have fun, that’s different from taking them because I’m depressed. I think the experience of Kate Moss is far different from the experience of the 20 year old using E in a night club which is far different from the experience of the 13 year old smoking spliffs in his bedroom which is different from the middle aged sex worker injecting heroin on the streets. (Sorry, I know they are stereotypes but I hope you get the point!) In exploring appropriate approaches to prevent and reduce harm, all would have useful insights, as would the scientists and the drugs service managers and their families and in developing appropriate policy and practice we need to find ways of engaging all stakeholders and working out how to reach decisions. We’ll never get it right and we’ll never make everyone happy but we need to keep trying.

  8. Just curious about your views on Johnson’s ‘concessions’, and whether they’re enough to prevent more people leaving the council.

    For what it’s worth, it seems to me that he has only promised to be a bit more polite in future, leaving the fundamental problem (i.e. interference in the academic freedom of council members) touched.

  9. re having non-scientists on the ACMD…good.
    I hope that if representatives of user groups are to be included then so should representatives of ex-user groups, prevention groups, parents of users and parents of pre-teen non-users….. plus one or more of the scientists not currently sitting on the ACMD who agreed with the Home Secretary that David Nutt had crossed a line into campaigning and had to go……

    • My intention is to proceed with an investigation and to make recommendations about how the ‘lay’ perspective can be captured in deliberations. I think that should address your issues.

      I also would like to move away from the ‘tabloidisation’ of discussions. When David Nutt made his speech in July it was as an independent scientist. However, when he represented the ACMD as Chair and spoke and wrote on our behalf about the ACMD’s recommendations, these were precisely that – the ACMD’s recommendations, not his.

      In its various investigations the Council has received and considered a range of often conflicting evidence from people, scientists and non-scientists, with a range of perspectives. Its recommendations have been based on lengthy and rigorous examination and analysis.

      Externally, people will have different views on David Nutt’s appropriateness in his public musings but please, let’s not confuse our personal takes on this by creating a public impression that the members of the ACMD are not sufficiently expert and robust to consider evidence and reach conclusions without being swayed by the strong opinions of the Chair. We deserve better than that!

  10. Sadly Eric I think you may have misunderstood whjere Nutt is headed.

    In his suggestions for drug classification to be carried by an independent group of scientists, with freedom (like the Bank of England has to set interests rates), Professor Nutt has quite wrongly marginalised the contribution of people like you on the ACMD.

    Since his dismisal, Professor Nutt has sought to mislead the public about cannabis and the debate in the ACMD and government. You know it was a close run thing, you know it was not black or white as Nutt has suggested. You know that government was getting conflicting messages on the issue from, for example, the National Director of Mental Health, who clearly wanted cannabis reclassified to where it traditionally had been, (at B). As did many others with an opinion as equally valid as Professor Nutt.

    You also know that he was not even Chairman during the debate, his personal view is therefore of no more significance than yours.

    You also know Eric, that Professor Nutt was crusading about his own (with Blakemore & others) unscientific drug harm index and that government had shown not the slightest interest in it. You may also be aware that many he wrote to, to get a response on it, are alleged not to have replied. A contemptuous silence (it was described by one person to me).

    In Professor Nutt’s Brave New World, only those who agree with him are fit to have any influence on policy. He will invent a drug to replace alcohol, no doubt to be made by his pals in the pharmaceutical companies.

    He will probably call it “Soma” and become very rich. Good luck to him.

    He cannot honourably combine that ambition with being the Chairman of the ACMD and representing all strands of opinion.

    I think society is safer with him gone. I am amused but slightly dismayed by the petulance of some of his fellow travellers. They have circled their wagons defensively, at what they see as the enemy, without thinking it all through.

    Could it just be that Nutt, having secured advance sfunding for his pet projects, sought maximum publicity for his departure and views, by engineering a run in with government? Could it even be, that government was trying to ease him out for his activities and he saw the writing on the wall?

  11. David, the ACMD made a range of recommendations about cannabis and about ecstasy. I don’t think of the discussions as being a ‘close run thing’ as again that trivialises the complexity of the discussion. That’s exactly the ‘tabloidisation’ of the discussion that I believe benefits no-one. Re the other parts of the conspiracy you allege, I don’t think I’m naive but I haven’t seen any evidence of the campaign and plotting you describe.

    Re cannabis, the ACMD did conclude and write up that there was considerable cause for concern in particular about the new stronger strains. However, we didn’t find evidence of the increased numbers of schizophrenia cases which people had suggested would have been emerging by the time of the investigation. As a mark of our serious concern , we recommended that we should return to investigate cannabis again in a couple of years to reassess the evidence.

    And, very important, we made a very strong case that efforts to prevent and reduce harm should have more of a public health focus and information campaigns should alert the public to the very real risks.

  12. Eric when I refer to “a close run thing”, I am not referring to the debate inside the ACMD, I only heard the public open day (and the attempt to rig the evidence by importing legalisation advocate Simon Lenton). I am referring to the government decision that was taken about cannabis classification.

    I repeat, government was getting conflicting messages, some came from people as equally qualified as those on the ACMD or Professor Nutt. Government erred on the side of caution rather than wait another two or three years.
    That was probably the correct thing to do.

    My complain about Nutt is that he failed to accept that decision and was campaigning against it. Other members of the ACMD , including you, have been much more discrete and sensible. Nutt was free to say he personally disagreed with it as was any other member of th4e ACMD, but a mature response would have been to say that he accepted it was a decision at the margins and he understood the pressures on government. It is interesting that no other member has improperly crusaded like Nutt.

    He did not show the required level of maturity.

    He has also continued to campaign for a major change in the status and the form of the ACMD, for it to be just run by scientists, with complete independence from government. That, as you know, would require legislation and the will of parliament. Government has shown no interest in his ideas. I do not like his ideas, consider them very dangerous and will do my best to stop them gaining any traction but I agree with his right to campaign for them, OUTSIDE the ACMD.

    There is no doubt he had entered into the political arena, I say that was improper activity in the role he held.

  13. Point of fact: Simon Lenton is Deputy Director of the Australian National Drug Research Institute. I imagine he was invited to speak at the ACMD, not because he was a ‘legalisation advocate’, but because he has done very relevant and well-regarded research on the effects of decriminalising cannabis in Australia. Several others who were invited to speak that day, who supported the government’s eventual position, could make much less claim to be speaking from the evidence than Professor Lenton.

  14. Am I alone in thinking that all this uproar about Nutt’s ‘academic freedom’ or the ACMD’s ‘independence’ being threatened is a bit, how shall I put it, bogus? Drug policy has always been highly political and the ACMD has always had to be politically aware in the way it has gone about its business. Indeed, many have been critical that it has been unduly constrained by these sorts of political considerations in the way it has approached its work. So why the sudden outrage about this so-called political interference? Surely this is just business as usual and to imagine that drug policy-making is ever done in a ‘pure’ non-political way is utterly naive.

  15. One more thing, as Columbo used to say. I’ve heard Nutt present his work on harms, and read a couple of his papers on it, and it strikes me as really quite straightforward stuff. It’s not ‘dangerous’, nor is it particularly radical or ‘out there’. It’s just a proposal for one framework for looking at the multi-dimensional harms associated with a range of psychoactive substances. I can’t see what there is to argue with, other than one might want to fine-tune some of the conceptual components of the framework (and, of course, there are deficiencies in some of the data). Is it really so hard to swallow for those of us trying to be grown up about the issue?

  16. I support Nutt’s sacking. I don’t often support what Labour politicians do, but in this case my only criticism is that they waited too long – they should have let him go after the Equasy stunt.

  17. There was a range of speakers representing a range of view who gave evidence to the ACMD. I was one of them. I would have thought listening to a range of views and evidence before coming to a conclusion was precisely how the council should act. Should they only have listened to views pre-approved by David Raynes? The fact that you disagree with some of the speakers, and not others does not suggest the evidence was rigged. That is frankly, ridiculous, and reflects your own prejudices, not those of the council.

    It is equally ridiculous to suggest that because the conclusions the council came to do not sit well with your personal views, the review must therefore be a stitch up.

    I genuinely wonder if you have actually read the ACMDs three cannabis reports which do not in any way shy away from the harms of cannabis, strike me as thorough and balanced literature reviews and make a series of generally sensible recommendations – most of which (B/C issues aside) I suspect you would support.

    If you have a problem with the Nutt/Blakemore harm index, I suggest that you either provide a proper critique and publish it in a journal or devise something better and publish it for public debate. I have done both. Welcome to the wonderful world of science and progress.

    You are just hurling accusations and name calling, which is both childish and unlikely to win any debates.

    Similarly, it appears your problem with Nutt’s criticizing the government is that you disagree with his critique, not merely the fact that he spoke out. Had the council called for a move to B, the Govt said no, and Nutt spoken out on that, my guess is you would be supporting him.

    If Nutt saw the Government treating the council with contempt (remember that Brown had ordered the review but stated publicly that he would move cannabis to B before they had reported back) and overuling them for transparently political reasons (the Tories and reactionary tabloids were making hay with the ‘soft on drugs’ line and Brown – newly appointed PM wanted to assert his moral credentials), then it was entirely appropriate for him to speak out either personally, or I would argue on behalf of the council (re that decision).

  18. @ Steve Rolles

    I’m not sure ‘science and progress’ (a phrase that keeps making me hum that dreary Coldplay song, by the way) is the best way of characterising the development of drug policy. In what sense is policy in 2009 ‘better’ than it was in 1959 or 1909? The way I see it, in any given period of time, ‘evidence’ of various kinds (including the sort of stuff you do, as well as more conventionally academic research) is drawn upon (selectively) as a resource in what is essentially a socio-political process through which drug policy develops.

  19. Steve
    I do not support what Brown said before the ACMD reported, I thought it very unwise.

    This debate is not about Nutts “delphic” harm index. That is a subject for another time.

    The ACMD should surely have only presented views to the public on what they had been tasked to examine. Slipping in a legalisation advocate who seeks to change the UN Conventions, something (specifically against the current UK Government Policy Bob Ainsworth to HASC when he was Minister) was naughty and someone should have known it was naughty.

    It demonstrates all that has been wrong with the unbalanced way the ACMD has been run recently. Government is rightly criticised for having it’s mind made up, the ACMD (some members) and some external supporters of those members should remember the biblical saying about motes & beams in eyes.

    I cannot say of course that Professor Nutt was responsible for lenton being there, he was not Chair then.

    I can say that the UK tax payer paid for Lenton to come over here, because Rawlins admitted that I when I put the obvious question at the next meeting. Since Lenton also represented the Beckley Foundation it might have been kinder to the tax payer if they had paid?

    I had no objection to you speaking, you have your position on legalisation but you are usually very fair and balanced.

    You stuck to the point of classification, you did say that “Cannabis is more dangerous than we thought” but you stuck to what the ACMD had been tasked with reviewing.

    The involvement of Lenton must be regarded with deep suspicion. it should not be necessary to have my detailed knowledge of worldwide legalisation lobbyists to understand what Lenton was about.

    • In my view, the Council has enough expertise and experience to be able to understand people’s differing positions and to make its own judgements. And, in answer to some of the other comments posted today, of course members live in the real world and have some political savvy.

      Re-the business of the Council, we are not required only to undertake what Government tasks us to do. If this had been the case we would not have undertaken the Hidden Harm work, investigating the needs of children of ‘problematic’ drug users, nor would we have carried out the Pathways to Problems work, investigating the situation and options in relation to prevention, education and early intervention. The Ecstasy review was also not commissioned by Government.

      My frustration with so much of this debate is that it becomes personalised and personally antagonistic when the issues we are dealing with are really complex, with no simple solutions; when we all realise that drugs, legal and illegal, can cause immense harm; and when we actually all probably agree on 90% of what we think would make appropriate policy.

  20. Ray: the reference to the progress of science is specifically regards the way in which different ideas, research and analysis are publicly disseminated, discussed and critiqued in various forums, that critical engagement between expert voices ultimately leading to some sort of consensus and progress, as some ideas crumble under scrutiny whilst others prosper as new evidence and analysis supports them (until something better comes along). I’m sure lots of people cleverer than me have said that far more eloquently, but i hope you get my drift.

    My problem with David’s position is that he appears to consider views that are different from his own as having no a role in the discourse, or being, by implication of the fact they do not fit his world view, part of some unspecified sinister agenda, usually involving either big pharma, wicked/delusional legalisers (thats me), or both.

    Simon Lenton’s work presented to the ACMD compared outcomes from different approaches to dealing with cannabis offenders in Australia – it suggested that civil disposals were more effective that criminal sanctions and had solid research to back it up. How is that not of relevance to a council tasked with determining penalties for cannabis offenders?

    I await any meaningful academic level critique of the publications of Lenton, Nutt/Blakemore, the ACMD or indeed, myself. Then maybe we can have a mature debate about the evidence (not the personalities). Until then David, its just pointless name calling and bluster.

  21. David Nutt proclaims to all and sundry that he is a ‘scientist’. How then can he propose that his ‘harms index’ is taken seriously? When I was in uni one of the first lessons learnt was ‘ you must compare like with like’. Trying to compare the ‘harms’ from different substances is like comparing apples and oranges. First define your harm – is that harm from one use of a substance, daily for 6 months, weekly for a year, only on your birthday for 30 years ? Is it harm to your physical health – short term or long term, to your mental health, to your emotional health, to your relationships ? Is it harm to your ability to do your job ? Is it harmful because there is a risk when you are driving or performing complex tasks? Is it harmful because the substance you use today may not be of the same strength tomorrow? Is it harmful because you are a parent and have children to consider ? Etc. Etc. – Try defining and measuring these and other harms for one substance – then try comparing them to others !
    Even if you were to give a weighting to harms who is to decide what that weighting would be?

    No Professor Nutt – I am not a scientist but I can see this is simply not possible.

  22. @ Steve Rolles
    I take your point (and absolutely agree with your critique of David’s comments). But I am deeply sceptical of the idea that things necessarily ‘progress’ through an accumulation or honing of human knowledge over time. The idea that C21 human beings are somehow ‘doing better’ because they have a more advanced understanding of the world than their C20 (or earlier) counterparts is hard to accept when you look around at what’s happening – tens of thousands dying daily directly from poverty; wars in many parts of the world; Guantanomo Bay etc.

    @AdaptableAnn
    Professor Nutt is not ‘claiming’ to be a scientist; he is one. His harm index is indeed flawed (as you say, it is impossible to do ‘perfectly’) but it represents a rigorous, systematic and serious attempt to do a harm assessment. I think indulging in personal slurs against him really reveals the poverty of your own arguments (ditto David re Professor Lenton).

  23. Steve
    You say :
    “My problem with David’s position is that he appears to consider views that are different from his own as having no a role in the discourse”.

    How unfair can you get Steve? I have spent nine years of arguing with you and Danny, in public, mostly at my own expense. you are assuming a quite desperate position.

    This is an absolute misdescription of my position . I think all views are worthy of hearing but please stick to what the ACMD was asked to consider. they were NOT asked to consider legalisation.

    On the public hearing you stuck almost precisely to the point. You , as I have said, have your agenda, you did not abuse your being allowed to speak. (You know I even had cause to privately congratulate you recently, on your fairness in another forum).

    At the ACMD, you described the harms of cannabis as you saw them, you dealt with arguments as to classification. I have no complaint indeed my written note of the proceedings, which you have and others may not have, does not criticise you .

    I am not against any reasonable say from anyone and you know that. Throwing muck discredits you.

    What I am against is the quite deliberate misreporting of the arguments and the misleading, deliberately I say, of the innocent public as to the decision being clearly black or white.

    Let me be absolutely clear, I accuse Nutt of that. Unscientific and biased I say. That is why he surely had to go.

    If he should choose to defend himself here or anywhere I am present, he will hear in no uncertain terms from me.

    I have absolutely perfect records of what took place at the public hearing. Nutt misrepresents (in his public pronouncements I have recently heard) the arguments, the science and the difficulty of the decision.

    I am very suspicious indeed of the presence of Lenton at the proceedings. I cannot say who organised that. If any member of the ACMD feels like telling me they can easily find me.

    I say there was no justification for flying Lenton at UK public expense to give evidence to the ACMD public hearing and particularly concealing from innocent onlookers, his agenda.

    That, I say, was corrupt. It was an attempt at manipulation that I have done my best to counter and to make Ministers aware of.

    It may well be that innocent members of the ACMD were mislead. If they feel there is anything at all in what I say, they know where the Home Secretary is.

  24. Im not trying to be rude or provocative David, i enjoy debating you for what its worth.

    But I don’t recollect Lenton even mentioning legalisation. His presentation was, as explained comparing civl and criminal sanctions for cannabis offenses in different Australian states. This is quite different from legalisation and regulation of cannabis supply – which he did not talk about and which the ACMD has never considered or made any pronouncement on, apart from, in fact, saying repeatedly to transform, that they wont look at it (so if there is a secret cabal of legalisers, we have yet to be invited into their underground lair).

    Lenton’s work is exstensively published in peer reviewed academic journals, and he is, as Alex points out, Deputy Director of the Australian National Drug Research Institute. He has done work for Beckley – publicly, and in published documents. – how does that disqualify him from commenting on his area of expertise. If it did we would have a very extensive list of people forbidden from contributing to ACMD deliberations – including members of the UNODC.

    And if he does support a debate on legalisation, or redrafting drug conventions, so what? so do many thinkers, politicians and academics. Again your problem with this seems to be that you disagree with Beckley. If he had done work for say, the IDS addiction report, I doubt you would be making a fuss, likewise if the council had flown in someone from Australia who shared your views on cannabis harms/classification.

    If you are saying Nutt or the Councils findings on cannabis or ecstasy are biased/unscientific then please explain why with references so we can discuss it. Otherwise, I’m sorry, it remains unfounded name calling and accusation.

  25. Steve
    You are presumably recalling what Lenton said from the extensive notes (of mine) about the ACMD meeting that I was kind enough to send you privately a few days ago?

    You did not make much in the way of notes (I was sitting right behind you and watched you).

    My reasons for objection to the UK tax payer paying for Lenton to come over to the UK to push his decriminalisation/liberalisation/legalisation agenda, should be obvious. Those issues were not what the ACMD was charged with.

    Lenton was in my view a plant, a distraction, to deliberately mislead and manipulate the audience. Someone knew exactly what they were doing by bringing him in, I cannot say it was Professor Nutt but I am interested in hearing evidence that it was, or how it otherwise came about, from silent ACMD members. (And thank you to the one person who contacted me anonymously, claiming to be a member).

    If you look at my verbatim notes about what Sir Mmichael Rawlins said, you will see he also did a bit of misleading about the application of penalties for personal use. Emotional silly stuff one might think. Certainly not calculatedly scientific.

    Let me be clear again, I accept that the ACMD advised against re-classification and that they were entitled to do that. My personal view is that they should have been more cautious given the evidence, as government HAD to be.

    What I do not accept is that in his protestations after dismissal, Professor Nutt has been honest about the arguments.

    He gave a clear impression that the ACMD had been unanimous and was stunned when my (correct) accusation that it was not, was put to him on News 24.

    Nutt gave an impression that the evidence, even that presented to the ACMD, was clear cut, black or white, plainly it was not, you heard it and you have my extensive note.

    Nutt neglected to mention, in his protestations after dismissal, the changing nature of cannabis, the issue of the ratio of THC to CBD that the council was told about and which I have long suggested is at the heart of the increasing harm from some cannabis.

    I remind you, Professor Murray has gone on record as saying professor Nutt has played “fast & loose” with the statistics. This is strong stuff, it is not me “name calling” nor is what I say unfounded accusation.

    In a nuttshell (sorry!) Professor Nutt was, I say, deliberately unscientific and partial, in his comments to the media and the public. He has attempted to justify himself and he has signally failed.

    I say, he allowed his own personal crusading on the cannabis issue to affect his presentation of the issues to the public. Not a sensible way of behaving for someone who had the role he had.

    This debate is not getting us anywhere so maybe we should quit while neither of us are ahead, I have better things to do and you and I debate often enough in the flesh.

    An interesting point about Sir Michael which is in my notes that you have, (which I just re-read). His apparent ignorance about the mixing of tobacco with cannabis. Quite astonishing that anyone, at his level, advising government, should be quite so ignorant.

    Plainly not all has been right in the ACMD, for some time. For too long it has been driven by people with an agenda showing, in pursuit of their agenda, not in pursuit of the public interest.

  26. Dear Eric and colleagues , I for one would be sad to see this debate fizzle out, as requested by one protaganist, for we have an opportunity here to understand better how everyone’s knowledge , approach and beliefs influence our every day lives.
    For the hundreds, maybe thousands, of drug users harmed by the criminalsisation of their coping strategies I ask you to continue.
    For the millions of people harmed by the legal substances prescribed by medicine, or approved , sanctioned, regulated and taxed by government and manufactured, distributed and marketed by legitimate companies I ask you to continue.
    Someone said that it was about mid 17th Century when human knowledge exceeded human capacity to garner and understand.
    So politicians need advice and a precied collapse of the issues to make decisions.
    The public need to understand how those decisions are arrived at, and then to elect people who they can trust to make the best or better decisons.
    What we also need is the political scientists to point out how power and our money get shared out amongst the various departments and groups. ( Research Impact Assessments anyone?) We can then make up our minds ever 4 or 5 years about whether the pendulum has swung too far or not.
    Keep going!
    There is a lot yet to be discussed.

    By the way, the insight to the hearings and Committee meetings is fascinating.
    There isn’t enough time in the world to read all political committee and hearings minutes so this is invaluable in showing just how human beings struggle to see, hear and experience the same thing and yet have a completely different recollection of the events.
    Did you see the gorrila walk acros the stage???
    Kind Regards
    Ross

  27. I am sorry but after reading this discussion I have to write that this guy, David Raynes, do seem to be mad.

    It’s really awful to read his repetition of the word “crusade” and how he uses anonymous letters to back his paranoia, and how he insults the intelligence of ACDM member by stating that ” Lenton was in my view a plant, a distraction, to deliberately mislead and manipulate the audience. Someone knew exactly what they were doing by bringing him in, I cannot say it was Professor Nutt but I am interested in hearing evidence that it was, or how it otherwise came about, from silent ACMD members. (And thank you to the one person who contacted me anonymously, claiming to be a member)”

    But it must be clear to everyone that his panic about debating decriminalization is hysterical and shows how closed minded he is.

    I understand that he is a person you have to deal with, and pity you!!!

    Poor you! Poor all the members from ACDM, the pressures from fanatics that you have to suffer!

    But please, don’t give up! You are doing a great work helping to improve society, (something politicians seem to have lost in ambition) –we need people like you, we need honesty, because a lot of people is suffering that shouldn’t suffer. And you know that it just feel better to be a hero (meaning to help others) than to be powerful (meaning to control others).

  28. @David Raynes
    When viewed collectively, the Science and Technology Committee report Drug classification: making a hash of it?, the ACMD report Pathways to Problems, and the Lancet paper Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse have thoroughly eviscerated HM Government’s administrative rationale for classification and regulation distinctions made under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Together they found that:
    • There is no clear distinction between socially acceptable drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, and the drugs controlled under the Act.
    • The exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the controls of the Act is arbitrary.
    • Psychoactive drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, are used worldwide in the pursuit of pleasure, solace and acceptance.
    • HM Government’s artificial distinction between drugs like alcohol and tobacco and the drugs controlled under the Act is based on historical and cultural precedents that lack a consistent and objective basis.
    Disrespecting all of this, on September 27th 2007 , an HM Government response to the Cabinet Office Better Regulation Executive reiterates a persistent reliance on an historic artificial divide in their discriminatory administration of the Act:
    “The Government’s policy is to regulate drugs which are classified as illegal or controlled through the 1971 Act and to regulate the use of alcohol and tobacco separately. This policy sensibly recognises that alcohol and tobacco do pose health risks and can have anti-social effects, but recognises also that consumption of alcohol and tobacco is historically embedded in society and that responsible use of alcohol and tobacco is both possible and commonplace”.

    We must abide by the law. That includes Alan Johnson, who must abide by the law, and moreover, he must understand the laws which delineate his powers. If Alan Johnson does not undertstand the Misuse of Drugs Act, he is factually doing something illegal because drugs policy will no longer follow the provisions of law, but what *he* thinks the law should be.

    If you read the Misuse of Drugs Act, you will discover that Alan Johnson does not know the law at all. If government followed the law as laid out in the MDA, this mess would not occur because the Act is designed to evolve along scientific lines, and any measures under the Act must be targeted to the risks to society occasioned by the misuse of drugs.

    Johnson and his predecessors characterise the Act as a statute which provides exclusively for prohibition. This is not true, it is also for *liberalising* drugs measures if this targets harm to society better. It was designed to go each way, depending on the evidence. Now the evidence does not agree with the government, so government is panicked and the solution is to throw primary legislation away with the evidence and ‘get tough’, in spite of the Act and not due to its provisions.

    Let me point you to Section 1(2)a), which gives the ACMD the duty to advise the government on measures

    “…for restricting the availability of such drugs or supervising the arrangements for their supply”

    The Act includes the latter clause, ‘supervising the arrangements for supply’, which means that the government’s prohibition policy is NOT a reflection of the Act. Further, the government admits it does NOT target drugs policy to the risks, but to send messages – an improper use of power, and not targetted to the risks. That’s unlawful. These points show the government does not understand primary legislation, and per the GCHQ case 1085, Diplock ruled that this behaviour is an abuse of power, and thus illegal.

    Drugs have always been around, and they will certainly ever remain. To pretend that both users and non-users will be better protected because some of them are impure, very expensive and sold by criminals (who are, by the way, indistinguishable from undercover police and plain businessmen) is simply ridiculous, and yet more so when the street supply grows year after year. The obvious result is a growing output of crimes and illiterate youngsters, who use the illicit substances partly as an adulthood initiation rite, and partly as an alibi that suggests declaring oneself irresponsable, unfree, victim of a chemical devil. This is very comfortable at such a critical moment of life, in which they should rather learn responsability, imitating the abnegation displayed by their elders with them. So the true option is not vice as opposed to law and order. The real choice is between an irrational consumption of adulterated products, compared to an informed use of pure drugs.

  29. Eric, it is clear that the majority of ACMD members (if not all) are unhappy about the situation involving politically motivated classification changes up and down the chart, plus outraged at the way perceived dissidence of Dr Nutt resulted in a sacking of the chair.

    I accept that if the relationship between Dr Nutt and the government are damaged so severely by all this then it is unreasonable to expect his reinstatement.

    However! The concessions from the government for future dealings with the ACMD are completely vacuous at best and clearly without any credibility whatsoever if the recent unsupported politically motivated changes to classifications are not reversed as part of the deal.

    If they are not, it is meaningless as they got what they wanted and are simply paying lip service.

    If you and the other ACMD members choose to remain in the council without these changes being reversed, then you too will be tarred with the same brush and lose credibility. The people will see the council as compromised by the government and no longer fit for purpose or trustworthy.

    I hope you and the others have considered this issue carefully.

    Regards. Concerned Citizen.

  30. David Raynes said:
    “You are presumably recalling what Lenton said from the extensive notes (of mine) about the ACMD meeting that I was kind enough to send you privately a few days ago?

    You did not make much in the way of notes (I was sitting right behind you and watched you). ”

    How can you make such extensive notes _and_ watch to see if another person did? Why does taking notes or note qualify if someone can recall what was discussed in a meeting or not? What’s not to say that the notes you took are not biased by your own prejustices?

    “My reasons for objection to the UK tax payer paying for Lenton to come over to the UK to push his decriminalisation/liberalisation/legalisation agenda, should be obvious. Those issues were not what the ACMD was charged with.”

    So, when somebody is asked to give evidence to a UK committee, who else is meant to pay for it? It makes perfect sense that the UK tax payer paid for it.

    Also you state that he came to “push his decriminalisation/liberalisation/legalisation agenda”, which Steve Rolles has already pointed out he did not, but rather gave relevent testimony.

    The statement of “Lenton was in my view a plant, a distraction, to deliberately mislead and manipulate the audience” only goes to highlight the prejustices you hold. If a debate is to be fair BOTH sides of the arguement have to be held (which again Steve Rolles has already pointed out was the case at this open meeting). Also I think given Lenton’s experience and expertise he is worth bringing in on the debate. Once again you lauch personal attacks (based on your own prejustices) on individuals.

    If you were able to argue your points in terms of evidence and reasoned arguement I’d be more inclined to listen to your point of view.

  31. Rawlins and Nutt , that’s a bit of a coincidence according to the history of the ACMD ,maybe there should be an investigation, as the public are the ones that have to live with the consequences of the decisions, more so than the ones who draw the magic lines and yet the public have no say, nor vote,,,nor answers,,, yet
    if the facts are not going to be the base of the policies that set the laws , what are ? , as fact based evidence is the only evidence in UK law

  32. Pingback: Another ACMD Resignation – An Example of What Nutt Should Have Done « Pasco Phronesis

  33. Pingback: Meanwhile, Back in the U.K., A Mixed Bag « Pasco Phronesis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s