The chairman of the British government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Dr. David Nutt, was fired from his post in October for speaking the truth. Nutt referred to a paper published in a respected medical journal and suggested that the UK rethink its drug policy using the research and other objective facts.
As we all know, the truth has little sway in the halls of government. Remember Joycelyn Elders, President Clinton's surgeon general, who was cut loose after a little more than a year because she said that masturbation is part of human sexuality? In the US, and in Britain as well, we sometimes behave like little children. It's ludicrous.
The Globe story on Dr. Nutt is discusses the study to which he made reference. The paper was published more than two years ago, and it asked a wide range of professionals to rank drugs according to three criteria: "physical effects on the user, the likelihood of addiction, and its impact on society," according to Boston.com, and the totals were tabulated. It's no surprise that heroin is, by a wide margin, first on the list -- meaning that it's most dangerous -- but alcohol is fifth and tobacco are ninth, both ahead of marijuana, LSD, ecstasy and more.
Dr. Nutt and the researchers weren't saying that we should make alcohol and tobacco illegal and legalize everything below them on the list, but they do believe that the UK should reexamine its policies on illegal drugs with facts in mind. This seems eminently obvious and applicable to America as well. Alas, politics would seem to reject even that simple step.