Professor David Nutt on Intoxicants, Law and Policy.

By Lucy key / @falsefreedxm

“So this is me being sacked by the government” was the opening line by the infamous Professor David Nutt at the Intoxicants, Law and Policy  discussion, held at the University of Sheffield last night.

“The reason I was sacked was because I was saying that Cannabis, was actually less harmful than substances like alcohol and tobacco” Nutt continued.

On October 30th 2009, the scientist was dismissed from his role as governmental chief advisor on drugs.

Today, David Nutt is currently the Edmond J. Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences.

He told the audience that the reason for his dismissal was because he “didn’t come up with findings required by the government at the time.”

Nutt was joined on the panel by Dr James Brown, a leading intoxicant researcher from the University of Sheffield and Professor Gerda Reith from the University of Glasgow who’s research specialises in theories of risk, addiction and consumption.

The panel spoke to the invigorated crowd as part of the University of Sheffield’s “Festival of Debate”

Professor Nutt said he still firmly believes that Britain doesn’t recognise how harmful the effects of alcohol can be.

He said: “The Government have adopted a policy of demonising drugs other than alcohol and tobacco to make the voters think that they’re doing something about the harms of drugs, and that policy has reached its ultimate, absurd conclusion in the psychoactive substances act which will come into force next Thursday.”

The act, which will see those who produce and sell psychoactive substances be legally penalised, is a “smokescreen” driven by the drinks industry, Nutt said.

Professor Nutt is currently leading a team of scientists at London’s Imperial College as they try to produce “synthetic alcohol substitutes.”

A product which will give the drinker the effects of drunkenness, without the “many risks of alcohol.”

Both Professor Reith and Dr James Brown spoke of how many drinking establishments encourage people to drink more, by turning the music louder and removing seating areas.

The “debate” wasn’t by definition a debate, as all three speakers interestingly found that they agreed on nearly all the topics discussed.

Together, the panel agreed that current government legislation on intoxicants is “draconian” and more about “controlling people, rather than controlling drugs.”

Professor Reith highlighted to the audience that an American company called “Eaze” , deliver medicinal Marijuana, a product targeted to everyone from pensioners who need aid with pain and business people who need a “boost.”

“The reason cannabis is illegal is a moral argument, not a health argument.” Professor Nutt said.

Britain as a country usually follow’s in the direction of America, America who in recent years have become more liberal on drug policy as substances like Cannabis have been legalised in states for medicinal purposes – Like Eaze –  he explained.

Shortly followed by: “Our government really do hate people having fun.”

When asked by a member of the audience for advice on whether to start career in controversial drugs research, he replied “I haven’t got many years left – someone else needs to take on the battering ram!”

Professor Nutt explains more about his drug theories in his book “Drugs Without the Hot Air” and can be found on twitter at @ProfDavidNutt. 

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