Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Professor Nutt had a point

Outrage was expressed in parliament yesterday over comments by one of the government's senior drugs advisors, Professor David Nutt. Nutt had pointed out that horse riding caused more deaths annually than the drug ecstasy. The home secretary, Jackie Smith demanded he apologised for the comments.

It is unfortunate that our leaders are so quick to miss an obvious point; that is that ecstasy causes only a small number of deaths in comparison with activities that are seen as perfectly normal. If the sole reason for keeping ecstasy illegal is that it is dangerous, why are other more dangerous activities permitted?

The home secretary has made it clear that she will dismiss recommendations by her scientific advisors that ecstasy shoiuld be downgraded from a class A to a class B drug. This raises the question of what the point is of having advisors if government ministers announce they will ignore their recommendations.


Antonio said...

I am sure that the death of a loved one from an accident stemming from horse-back riding would be severe.

Yet on the other hand, I have never seen someone's family, whose, for example, mother was into horseback riding, fall apart, reaking havoc within and without the family, by virtue of the affinity for horseback riding.

While I have seen someone's family utterly devastated with unforeseable consequences to the children because a parent used illicit drugs.

The point Professor Nutt made needs to be tempered with a rationale that has been exposed to the effects of drug use on the life of the person using, on his family, and on society.

I do agree that if one employs advisors that they indeed give them a fair hearing. But in this case, this professor has shown himself to be nothing but a "Nutt"


Celestial Fundie said...

Antonio, thanks for your comments.

You are not the first person to make a crack about the guy's name. But it is funny.

"Yet on the other hand, I have never seen someone's family, whose, for example, mother was into horseback riding, fall apart, reaking havoc within and without the family, by virtue of the affinity for horseback riding."

There is a lack of evidence that ecstasy does cause the devastating social effects that you mention. Ecstasy is not addictive in the way that heroin and crack are.

Trevor said...

Hi Matthew

Not having the expertise which you have (and I respect much) in the field of drug-abuse, am I mistaken in the belief that ecstasy can only ever do harm to a person's physical and mental well-being (even if sufficiently minor)?

If so, that would surely mark a difference between that and sports like horse-riding, which carry an element of risk - but when done properly are safe. Furthermore equipment such as helmets are designed to reduce further risk of injury. For reduction of risk of harm with ecstasy would one not have to carry about a large amount of bottled water (which, on the clubbing scene, is not the most practical thing to do)?

Not that the debate is so much about horse-riding, but rather the contradictions in laws (eg. cigarettes are never safe but perfectly legal). And many contradictions there are.

Nevertheless, I fear that Mr Nutt's comments are symptomatic of someone wanting to draw attention to other legal flaws rather than pro-actively address the serious issues contained within his own remit.

I appreciate what you're doing though - questioning issues which most believers would be scared to address for fear of sounding licentious.

You have a much better grasp, through your work, of the issues than someone like me - so I'm simply laying my views and fears on the line for open criticism.


Celestial Fundie said...

Trevor, thanks for dropping by.

I don't think I can claim expertise in this field (you don't have to be an expert to work in drug services).

I think you make an important point about contradictions in the law.

That rather raises the question of how the danger an activity presents can actually be used in determining the risk.

I do not think you necessarilly need as much as a large bottle of water when taking ecstasy. Clubs normally will serve water for free.

Despite its reputation, ecstasy is actually one of the least harmful drugs, legal and illegal.

Every Blessing in Christ