Saturday, 31 October 2009

Grown-up drugs debate

Many years ago I took a course with the Open University called Health and Disease. One of the things that I remember from the course is that aspirin is a powerful drug and if it had been discovered today then it would only be available on prescription. There are obvious social factors in how we legalisise our drugs. Many of the illegal drugs were once legal and many drugs, even though they are legal like alcohol are much more harmful than legal ones.

Today Professor David Nutt has been sacked by the government. He was an advisor. In fact he was head of the Advisory council on the Misuse of Drugs. Part of his advice was that he felt the govenment was wrong for reclassifying cannabis from a class C to classB drug. This is the same person who has also claimed that "taking ecstasy is no more dangerous than riding a horse". Perhaps an open debate on risk should include some sports and hobbies that we would not consider dangerous. The NHS has to deal with riding injuries just as it does with the misuse of drugs.

There is a risk of death with ecstasy. The Daily Mail will tell you that, but how many lives could have been saved if it were legal? How does this compare with alcohol related deaths? I am not condoning the use of illegal drugs but there is a social context that allows more harmful drugs to be legal. When this is pointed out by an advisor it turns out that the advice is not wanted so he gets the sack. Let's have a grown-up debate.

Change the world.

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