Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Drugs Policy without Science

I woke on Monday to the news that the views of scientists were going to be removed from decisions on drug policy.

This is a further undermining of the role of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), last year Prof. David Nutt, the then chair, was sacked by then Home Secretary Alan Johnson for criticising the Labour government's stance on cannabis. Following this a number of further council members resigned and their jobs were only recently up for grabs.

The ACMD's guidelines currently state;
There is a statutory requirement that membership includes representatives of the practices of medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and pharmacy, the pharmaceutical industry, and chemistry other than pharmaceutical chemistry; and people who have a wide and recent experience of social problems connected with the misuse of drugs.
The issue now is with the requirement that the home secretary appoint at least six scientists to the council.

To put it bluntly this would be a disaster. As Imran Khan of CaSE said "the government are trying to take us back to the time of 'Minister knows best'."

As I have commented before, Ministers like to meddle, drug policy is a perfect example of this. Ex-MP Dr Evan Harris seems to agree; "there is concern that a number of quangos that are advisory committees are being taken "in house" – into government departments." The Labour government geared up for this year's election by getting tough on drugs, and there is every sign that Conservative members of government intend to do the same.

Drug policy should not be politically driven, however attractive it is to make bold moves which look good in the public's eyes, it makes for criminalisation of individuals based on wishful thinking, not evidence. Although it's not like they don't do that already.

Here are a few of the most insightful or concise articles on the issue;
Dr Evan Harris

*Goes out to steal nails so that the Tories can't put them into any more coffins*

1 comment:

  1. Great piece, couldn't agree more. This has been a debacle to say the least. It has of course got worse since the writing of your piece, the latest ACMD makes for some interesting reading.

    I think, for me, the most dangerous part of this issue is just how little the layman knows on the subject, and the distinct maliase within society when addressing this.