Speaking truth to power in the war on drugs


The biggest mistake ever made with respect to habit-forming drugs was when politicians and governments decided that drugs and addiction were a political and legal problem rather than a medical one. Once this decision had been taken, governments did such a good job of convincing their uninformed publics of the “evils” of certain substances that it has become difficult to turn back the clock.

When scientists and medical experts try to point out problems with prohibition, in other words, when they speak truth to power, they can find themselves in hot water. Look at what happened yesterday in the UK, as reported in the Guardian:

The Government’s drugs tsar was forced to resign last night for stating his view that cannabis, ecstasy and LSD were less harmful than the legal drugs tobacco and alcohol.

The Home Secretary Alan Johnson asked Professor David Nutt to resign as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), saying he had “lost confidence” in his ability to give impartial advice.

This action by the Home Secretary was despite the fact that Nutt’s advice was both expert and impartial, and thus fulfilled his job description. Furthermore, Professor Nutt’s stance has been backed by numerous experts, drug advisors and politicians.

Nutt, who has apparently never held back much with his “controversial” advice, once “suggested ecstasy, which causes 30 deaths a year, was less dangerous than horse-riding, which causes 100 deaths a year.”

Nor did he go quietly after being asked to resign; he accused “the Government of “misleading” the pubic in its messages about drugs and of “Luddite” tendencies.”

The War on Drugs is almost 40 years old, having been declared by Nixon in 1971. It has been an unmitigated disaster and politicians need to start listening to reason, not acting on gut feelings and ignorance.

Further reading on drugs at Notes: America’s Going Green: Marijuana under Obama

3 Responses

  1. Click on my name for link to a poll on whether David Nutt should have been sacked.

  2. One need not travel to China to find indigenous cultures lacking human rights or to Cuba for political prisoners. America leads the world in percentile behind bars, thanks to ongoing persecution of hippies, radicals, and non-whites under prosecution of the war on drugs. If we’re all about spreading liberty abroad, then why mix the message at home? Peace on the home front would enhance global credibility.

    The drug czar’s Rx for prison fodder costs dearly, as life is flushed down expensive tubes. My shaman’s second opinion is that psychoactive plants are God’s gift. Behold, it’s all good. When Eve ate the apple, she knew a good apple, and an evil prohibition. Canadian Marc Emery is being extradited to prison for selling seeds that American farmers use to reduce U. S. demand for Mexican pot.

    Only on the authority of a clause about interstate commerce does the CSA (Controlled Substances Act of 1970) reincarnate Al Capone, endanger homeland security, and throw good money after bad. Administration fiscal policy burns tax dollars to root out the number-one cash crop in the land, instead of taxing sales. Society rejected the plague of prohibition, but it mutated. Apparently, SWAT teams don’t need no stinking amendment.

    Nixon passed the CSA on the false assurance that the Schafer Commission would later justify criminalizing his enemies. No amendments can assure due process under an anti-science law without due process itself. Psychology hailed the breakthrough potential of LSD, until the CSA shut down research, and pronounced that marijuana has no medical use, period. Drug juries exclude bleeding hearts.

    The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) allows Native American Church members to eat peyote, which functions like LSD. Americans shouldn’t need a specific church membership or an act of Congress to obtain their birthright freedom of religion. John Doe’s free exercise of religious liberty may include entheogen sacraments to mediate communion with his maker.

    Freedom of speech presupposes freedom of thought. The Constitution doesn’t enumerate any governmental power to embargo diverse states of mind. How and when did government usurp this power to coerce conformity? The Mayflower sailed to escape coerced conformity. Legislators who would limit cognitive liberty lack jurisdiction.

    Common-law must hold that adults are the legal owners of their own bodies. The Founding Fathers undersigned that the right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable. Socrates said to know your self. Mortal lawmakers should not presume to thwart the intelligent design that molecular keys unlock spiritual doors. Persons who appreciate their own free choice of path in life should tolerate seekers’ self-exploration.

  3. […] scientists and legal experts as outdated, unwieldy and failing (and Duff posted on this recently in Speaking truth to power in the War on Drugs), it’s quite another thing to find a politician prepared to risk their neck for the stoner […]

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