Political correctness ignoring science and taxpayers?.
News 31 10 2009 : Home Secretary Alan Johnson sacks drugs adviser. Alan Johnson has come under fire after forcing the Government's chief drugs adviser Professor David Nutt (Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)) to resign over highlighting a need that harmful substances be catagorised on a scientific basis. Mr Johnson accused Prof Nutt of going beyond his remit as an evidence-based scientist and accused him of "lobbying for a change in Government policy". As to the current drug classification Professor Nutt said that "The danger is they (politicians) are misleading us. The scientific evidence is there, it's in all the reports we published."
23 03 2007 Scientists Say <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />UK Drug Classification System Is Flawed
Suggestions that it should be replaced by an evidence-based system of potential harm that would place alcohol and tobacco higher than cannabis and ecstasy.
Professor David Nutt from the University of Bristol, Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, and two colleagues developed a new drug ranking system that would class socially acceptable tobacco and alcohol as more harmful than cannabis, and considerably more dangerous than Class A drugs such as ecstasy and LSD.
They say the current classification system used in the UK is flawed and should be scrapped.
Their proposed system of classification asesses harm in an "evidence-based fashion". They use three main factors to determine the potential harm that a substance causes:
(1) Physical harm to the user,
(2) Tendency to induce dependence in the user, and
(3) The effect of its use on families, communities and society in general.
Within each factor there are three sub-categories which altogether made up a nine-category "matrix of harm". Each category attracts a score of between 0 and 3, with 3 representing the most harm. An overall mean harm score of between 0 and 3 is then calculated for each drug.
They asked two independent expert panels to score 20 different substances using this new system. The 20 drugs included five legal potentially misused substances (alcohol, khat, solvents, alkyl nitrites, and tobacco) and one recently classified one (ketamine) so that the league table showed some familiar "benchmarks".
The two panels found the method easy to use and came up with very similar harm scores for each drug. In order of overall harm, the 20 drugs were given the following ranking (the most harmful, heroin at number 1 scored nearly 3, while the least harmful khat at number 20 scored less than 1.
(1) Heroin (most harmful).
(4) Street Methodone.
(13) 4-MTA (para-methylthioamphetamine).
(15) Methylphenidate (ritalin).
(16) Anabolic steroids.
(17) GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid).
(19) Alkyl nitrites.
(20) Khat (least harmful).
Prof Nutt who led the study said, "Drug misuse and abuse are major health problems. Our methodology offers a systematic framework and process that could be used by national and international regulatory bodies to assess the harm of current and future drugs of abuse".
Prof Blackmore said that while drug policy is aimed at reducing harm to users, their families and society as a whole, the present system was not a "Rational, evidence-based method for assessing the harm of drugs". He said the system they have devised, on the other hand, is.
"We hope that policy makers will take note of the fact that the resulting ranking of drugs differs substantially from their classification in the Misuse of Drugs Act and that alcohol and tobacco are judged more harmful than many illegal substances," he added.
20 07 2007 TEN ministers admit - We smoked cannabis. Ten members of the cabinet last night admitted to breaking the law by using cannabis in their youth - including the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and the Chancellor Alistair Darling. Tony McNulty and Vernon Coaker - also confessed to having tried marijuana during their student days. Mr Cameron was disciplined for using cannabis while he was at Eton and he has failed to deny the report.
Mr McNulty later said: "What people did or didn't do 25 years ago at university, in the late 70s, early 80s, is an entirely personal matter. The Home Secretary is in charge of new moves to reverse the 2004 declassification of cannabis from a Class B drug to a Class C drug. It comes amid mounting evidence from mental health charities, police and doctors that cannabis use can cause mental problems - such as schizophrenia.
2 10 2008 Cannabis 'less harmful than drink'. Cannabis use is less harmful than drinking or smoking cigarettes and should be legalised, according to a new report. The Beckley Foundation's Global Cannabis Commission says the ban has had little or no impact on supply and has turned users in to criminals. They write that it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. "Historically there have only been two deaths worldwide attributed to cannabis, whereas alcohol and tobacco together are responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths per annum in the UK alone. Cannabis was downgraded to class C in 2004, making police unlikely to arrest people carrying small amounts. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith reclassified the drug to class B to avoid "risking the future health of young people". Legalising cannabis would allow it to be regulated, and make it easier to stop children becoming users.
00 00 0000 Alan Johnson
Born 17 May 1950 - Paddington, London, England (Atheist). Johnson joined the Union of Communication Workers, becoming a branch official.
00 00 1962 On leaving School works for Tesco stacking shelves
00 00 1968 At 18 years old becomes a postman
00 00 1971 Joins the Labour Party
00 00 1987 A Full Time Union Official
00 00 1993 Became General Secretary of the newly-formed Communication Workers Union following a series of union mergers.
1 May 1997 Three weeks before the 1997 General Election he was selected to be a Member of Parliament for Hull West and Hessle (Incumbent) when the previous incumbent, Stuart Randall, stood down suddenly. Randall was subsequently elevated to the House of Lords.
8 Sept 2004 Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Formerly Andrew Smith)
6 May 2005 Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Formerly Patricia Hewitt)
00 May 2006 Publicly stated he expected to stand for the post of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party when John Prescott stepped down.
5 May 2006 Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Formerly Ruth Kelly).
9 Nov 2006 He tells the BBC that he would in fact be supporting Brown and standing as deputy leader. He was successfully nominated onto the ballot paper for Labour Deputy leader with most number of nominations.
24 June 2007 Narrowly beaten for the deputy leadership by Harriet Harman. Initially the Communication Workers Union announced its support of him for deputy leader but after negative reaction to this at the 2007 CWU conference the union decided not to recommend anyone.28 June 2007 Secretary of State for Health (Formerly Patricia Hewitt). Infamous for attacking breast cancer patient Debbie Hirst because she attempted to buy the cancer drug Avastin, which the NHS had denied her. Johnson told Parliament, patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the NHS and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs. That way lies the end of the founding principles of the NHS.
5 June 2009 Home Secretary - Assumed office （Formerly Jacqui Smith）
He is the first former trade union leader to become a Cabinet Minister since Frank Cousins in 1964.
His voting record from the Public Whip sees him voting strongly in favour of ID Cards and student top-up fees. He also voted strongly in favour of the Iraq war and Labour's anti-terror laws, and strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.