Class A drugs 'should be decriminalised,' says former drug advisor Professor David Nutt

 

Drugs such as LSD and MDMA should be decriminalised and sold in pharmacies, the government's former chief drug advisor has said.

Professor David Nutt said that many substances currently banned are no more toxic than alcohol and that the potential penalty and criminal record which go with them amount to more harm than the drugs themselves.

"They should be decriminalised, there is no doubt about that. It is clear, if you are using a drug less dangerous than alcohol, that is a rational choice. If, like crack cocaine, it is more harmful of course, that is different. Addiction is also another matter but it requires treatment," he told reporters yesterday.

He added that he was not in favour of full legalisation and "selling heroin in supermarkets" but said a system whereby drugs - including Class A substances - were sold in pharmacies could work.

Professor Nutt said: "It is clear that the best way of preventing people from coming to harm is education. People need to know what they are doing. I do not see any reason why people should not access drugs like cannabis or MDMA through a pharmacy.

"At least then, you would know what you are getting. You could then deal with the issues under things like trade laws; that would give people a great deal of safety. When BZP was being made available in New Zealand, under this system, it was made by companies to a very high quality."

But he added that he would not advocate people being allowed to simply buy up stocks of the most harmful drugs, like heroin.

Professor Nutt was sacked by the government nearly three years ago after a turbulent relationship with two Home Secretaries: Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson, who sacked him after comparing the dangers of drug use with the dangers of horse riding.

He argued he was simply trying to provide perspective on the perils and, as he left the unpaid post, accused ministers of undermining scientists.

Launching his book "Drugs - without the hot air" yesterday, he also claimed that the criminalisation of many drugs which may have medicinal benefits has dealt a greater blow to science than the opposition to stem cell research.

He claimed that difficulties with obtaining licenses and reliable samples of the most tightly controlled substances meant that potentially helpful drugs were not being researched.

"Before LSD was banned in 1965, there were lots of studies done, since then, there has been one," he said.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The Home Office licensing regime enables bona fide institutions to carry out scientific research on controlled substances while ensuring necessary safeguards are in place."

Suggested Topics
News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Arts and Entertainment
The star dances on a balcony in the video
music
News
Official estimates of the level of sham marriages range between 4,000 and 10,000 every year
science
News
Damon Gameua took on a low-fat, high-sugar health food diet for 60 days
peopleAustralian director Damon Gameua was given warning by his GP
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines