in Drugs and drugs policy, In the news

David Nutt resigns


Chief government drug advisor Professor David Nutt, has resigned from his position today following an publication in which he discussed the relative harms of currently illegal substances compared to those which are widely available such as alcohol.  Seems sensible, but the distinctly illiberal Alan Johnson MP seems unprepared to enter into nuanced debate.

This is not the first time Professor Nutt has landed himself  in trouble with a Home Secretary;  he was severely reprimanded by Jacqui Smith in March 2009 following publishing an article which compared the dangers of using ecstasy with those of horse riding.  But clearly he’s now used up all his nine lives.

Paper trail:

The publication in question:
Estimating drug harms: A risky business (I no longer have a link for this)

Digest in Guardian 29 October 2009
The cannabis conundrum

Guardian 30 October 2009
Government drug advisor David Nutt sacked

The Guardian 30 October 2009 Robin Murray
A clear danger from cannabis

Guardian 30 October 2009
Chief drug advisor David Nutt sacked over cannabis stance

Guardian 31 October 2009
Drugs policy: shooting up the messenger – Editorial

Guardian 31 October 2009
Professor Nutt’s sacking shows how toxic the drugs debate has become

BBC Mark Easton Blog
Nutt gets the sack – includes Alan Johnson’s letter and David Nutt’s reply


Updated December 2018

Write a Comment


  1. “Expert Fired For Showing Expertise Shock”

    “Right Advice Wrong Advice Revalation”

    “Conservative Can’t Cope With Obvious Reality…erm, Probe”

  2. Well I can’t say I’m surprised. This does raise the question of what expert advisors are for. If they can’t offer advice in public, only in private, we the public have no way of knowing whether their advice is being taken seriously.

    The government are of course under no obligation to listen to their advisors, Britain elected the government, not David Nutt, to make drug policy, but it would be nice if they’d explain *why* they disagree rather than just telling him to keep quiet.