Why Are So Many MPs Incapable Of Common Sense On Drugs?
I don’t know but I do know that I shared David Nutt’s evident frustration with some of the attitudes demonstrated by some members of the Home Affairs select committee yesterday. You can watch the hearing in full here.
Given their reaction to David’s expert advice, you could be forgiven for thinking that Michael Ellis, Lorraine Fullbrook and Nicola Blackwood were there as representatives of the alcohol industry to pour scorn, disrespect and little short of abuse on the evidence of a scientist who is infinitely more experienced and qualified than them with their short sighted, bigoted and, frankly, rather slow uptake on reality.
I expect these three preferred the evidence in April from the three high priests of propaganda: Mary Brett, Kathy Gyngell and Peter Hitchens. It is appalling that we have badly informed, clearly prejudiced individuals like this in parliament who arrogate to themselves the right to impugn the integrity and value of Professor Nutt’s evidence.
“Isn’t it irresponsible…”, says Michael Ellis, castigating Professor Nutt for his solid evidence-based comparison of the harms of cannabis and alcohol when Ellis himself is part of a government that maintains the deeply irresponsible, immoral and discredited policy of prohibition. He seeks to demonise all drug use, suggesting that drug users display addictive behaviour which means they have to get the money through criminality. The man seems completely blind to the fact that 99% of all drug use is non-problematic, that the most addictive drug of all is alcohol and that prohibition is the cause of acquisitive crime that funds addiction. Watch the video though, David Nutt destroys Mr Ellis’ argument with great elegance.
David Winnick, the tenacious Labour MP, says he has “…a good deal of sympathy…” with the view that the laws on cannabis should be relaxed. Dr Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP is also focused on evidence rather than tabloid scare stories.
“So it’s better for people to have lung cancer than liver cancer”, says Nicola Blackwood, in a disingenuous retort to Professor Nutt’s advice that a regulated cannabis market would reduce harms from alcohol. Perhaps Ms Blackwood is a victim of the British Lung Foundation’s propaganda from last week. She certainly does manage to miss the point entirely.
James Clappison also misses the point. He see no reason why when we already have “legal drugs” that cause harm, why legalise another? “The world wouldn’t be a better place if more people smoked cannabis.”
Well Mr Clappison, perhaps it would? Putting that aside though, it would be a far better place if people weren’t criminalised for a victimless crime based on the false claim that cannabis is prohibited because it’s harmful. No politician of integrity should ever support such an intrusion into personal liberty when it is based on misinformation and deception. It is unjust and undemocratic to penalise someone, potentially to ruin their life, for choosing a drug that is demonstrably far less harmful than “legal drugs”.
Lorriane Fullbrook attributes the gang violence in Latin America, money laundering, human trafficking, smuggling and illegal firearms to “drug misuse”, failing entirely to see that these are the harms of prohibition and that harms would be greatly reduced in a responsibly regulated system. She then goes on to talk about “new entrants” if drugs were legalised, overlooking the overwhelming balance of evidence that shows drug use decreases in regulated markets and, far more importantly, so do harms to both individuals and society.
Ms Fullbrook also seeks to characterise the Independent Scientific Committtee on Drugs (ISCD) as a “legalisation group”. The inquiry has not, as yet, heard from any such group (unless you count the Global Commission). It has heard from the extreme prohibitionists but the other side has not been put. The ISCD consists of independent, scientific experts and although Ms Fullbrook clearly doesn’t like its evidence, she is wholly wrong to portray it as a political force. That’s what CLEAR is and I’ll be happy to take that flak from her if she’ll listen to Professor Nutt’s evidence as the scientific expert that he is.
Ms Fullbrook’s true colours are revealed when she attempts the absurd distortion that Professor Nutt advocates “…cocaine, heroin and cannabis free(ly available) in local shops.” Are we not entitled to expect far more intelligent, honourable and reasonable debate from senior politicians?
Are we not entitled to expect far more humility, reason and consideration from all our politicians? As David Nutt said, since the last HASC drugs inquiry, 10 years ago, nothing has changed and things have got worse.
Politicians need to accept that they have got this policy wrong, for too long. Now is the time for courage and common sense.