On Monday, Jacqui Smith, the UK Home secretary severely criticised a report by the Government’s own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which recommended downgrading the controlled drug Ecstasy from a Class A drug to Class B. She was particularly incensed by the statement of Professor David Nutt, who wrote: “Drug harm can be equal to harms in other parts of life. There is not much difference between horse-riding and ecstasy.”
His point, of course, was that the numbers of casualties per year from the two activities were of a similar order. Had he compared the number of Ecstasy related deaths with say, deaths from prescription drugs, then it would be seen to be nearly ten times as many, even in 2001.
Professor Nutt went on to say: “This attitude raises the critical question of why society tolerates - indeed encourages - certain forms of potentially harmful behaviour but not others such as drug use.”
How dare that Nutt compare such things! the Home Secretary may have thought, before reflecting that if number of deaths led to greater regulation, then approximately 3000 deaths a year because of cars might mean some huge social changes in the works. Imagine if Mobile Phone masts, Pesticides in Food, Heavy Metals in the Water Supply and Booze and Tobacco were all added to that regulated mix!
But no, Ms. Smith would prefer to listen to, and was probably coached by the same person who informed another non-scientist, Home Office Minister Alan Campbell who claimed “Ecstasy can and does kill unpredictably” and “there is no such thing as a ’safe dose’” and that the government had a “duty” to protect the public.
No duty to back up outrageous claims with hard scientific data, then? Or even tell the truth for a change?
But we shouldn’t be at all surprised. It was only in May 2008 that the Home Secretary decided to upgrade Cannabis from Class C to Class B, once again against the advice of scientists, or as they are called in the trade, ‘people who actually have a clue what they’re talking about.’
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs report, in which they recommended against the upgrading of Cannabis to Class B, was completely ignored, and Ms. Smith told the House of Commons: “Reclassification reflects the fact that skunk, a much stronger type of the drug, now dominates the cannabis market.”
Her information comes, it appears from the non-scientist Gordon Brown, who made claims of skunk’s “more lethal quality”, that it was a “gateway drug” and that it should be upgraded to “send a message to young people that it was unacceptable”. No scientific data about the number of deaths due to its “more lethal quality” were forthcoming.
An Independent group, The UK Drug Policy Commission in a separate white paper of January 2008 (pdf file) said:
“Our overall conclusion is that we find no compelling new evidence which would require the ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs) to alter its recommendation in 2006 to keep cannabis classified as Class C.”
“Cannabis can undoubtedly cause harms and we appreciate the concerns expressed by politicians and members of the public. However, the current C classification remains an appropriate and proportionate response and there appears to be little to gain from reclassification. Evidence does not support the view that it would further help to “protect society and individuals from the harmful effect of illicit drugs”, which would be the main objective as outlined in the Home Secretary’s July 2007 letter.”
The report also categorically denied that there was any evidence to support Gordon Brown’s “gateway drug” hypothesis.
So could Home Secretary Jacqui Smith really be avoiding the intelligent pronouncements of distinguished scientists in order to “protect society and individuals from the harmful effect of illicit drugs”?
As much as it would be wonderful to believe that Ms. Smith stands on such moral high ground that we could fool ourselves into believing that she’s out there to protect us, it seems morality is not one of her biggest virtues.
For this is the Home Secretary who said that Police should harass young thugs, who lied blatantly about improved knife-crime figures, who covered up the fact that illegal immigrants were working in sensitive security jobs in Whitehall, something that has still not been addressed and who was met with laughter and uproar when she suggested that the public would be as happy to have a PCSO (a community support officer or trumped up traffic warden) as a proper bobby on the beat.
This is the same Home Secretary who wishes to spend valuable taxpayers money on ID cards that have been almost universally condemned by others because: “I believe there is a demand, now, for cards - and as I go round the country I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.”
One has to wonder whether those people who didn’t want to wait were her special supporters, like Mr.Richard Timney who wrote such nice letters defending her in the Redditch Advertiser, a local newspaper in Smith’s constituency and who turned out to be Jacqui Smith’s husband or Patricia Hill who praised her in a national newspaper, saying “I recently lost my mum and Jacqui wrote a personal letter to me. She cares about us in Redditch” but who neglected to mention that she was Jacqui’s long time friend and a Labour Councillor for four years.
The NO2ID campaign’s National Coordinator, Phil Booth, refuted her claims of people asking her for ID cards, stating: “She must be ignoring twice the number of people who are coming up to her and saying I don’t want my details on any database whatsoever.”
And now, to top it all, it is clear that she has been morally bankrupt by claiming expenses to pay for her £300,000 home in the West Midlands by staying at her sister’s as a lodger. The £116,000 she siphoned off from the taxpayer paid for over a third of her property. That’s what we call barely legal government perks.
So…if it is not the moral implications of drugs that are at the heart of Jacqui Smith’s anti-drug policies, then what could it be?
Perhaps it is because she has a history of ignoring reports from specialists and scientists?
Back in 2003, while MP for Redditch, Jacqui Smith obviously ignored the warnings of the non-existence of Iraqi WMDs by the late Doctor David Kelly as she voted very strongly for the Iraq war , andunsurprisingly enough, strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war, which the world is in no doubt now was totally based on lies. Would it be too much to believe that she also voted strongly against a transparent Parliament? Got to keep those lies hidden somehow, right?
But perhaps the reason for her anti-drug policies is something different.
A recent Horizon program from British Government Propaganda mouthpiece The BBC attempted to explore the realities of cannabis-induced schizophrenia in “Cannabis: The Evil Weed?” (available here on BBC iPlayer). The best they could come up with was a man who sits doing nothing all day long and blames cannabis for his apathy, and a woman who claims that her son, who smoked cannabis and later went schizophrenic while his brothers who allegedly didn’t smoke it and didn’t show symptoms, is proof that it must be the cannabis that is responsible.
Didn’t she even know that studies have shown that people with addictive behaviours and yes, even schizophrenia, are attracted to drugs by their very nature? The mother herself was obviously crazy even though the program wasn’t about her.
Perhaps we can help back up their meagre claims by adding a third possible ‘victim’ of cannabis psychosis.
You guessed it, UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith admitted that yes, she smoked cannabis while at Oxford University. She claims that over the past 25 years the dangers of cannabis have become clearer, including the mental health dangers of cannabis and the increasing strength of the drug.
Not that we don’t believe her after all those half and non-truths she’s been telling the public for some time, but it really could be the case that she is the third person ever to have developed severe psychosis from smoking cannabis. After all, it’s been around for thousands of years with no proven evidence of medical or psychological harm, and any old hippie will tell you that ‘dope’ was always stronger in the old days, for instance, Thai sticks and Sinsemilla which were both equal in strength to anything around today, so the whole concept of newer dope being stronger and creating psychosis is just a red herring.
Why she denies wholesome scientific reports to further her agenda in her Big Fat Drug War is still a mystery.
As for Professor David Nutt, I hope he learns how to make reports that please the government, as I’d hate to hear that he was “found in the woods” like a certain Doctor Kelly.