There was a welcome outbreak of common sense in Yesterday's Evening Standard, a paper more often prone to reactionary drug war posturing, in its leader editorial on the David Nutt furore:
Spin and drugs
The row over the firing of drug expert David Nutt was almost inevitable. Professor Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, was dismissed at the weekend; Home Secretary Alan Johnson accuses him of running a campaign against official policy.
But Professor Nutt made his comments about the Government's policy on cannabis under extreme provocation.
The ACMD was set up in 1971 as an integral part of the Misuse of Drugs Act year: its purpose is to advise ministers on the latest scientific thinking on drugs, and the intention of the Act was for that advice to inform policy.
So it was that cannabis was downgraded from a class B to a less dangerous class C drug in 2004, on the ACMD's advice.
In 2008, however, the Government reclassified cannabis as class B, despite the ACMD's objections - not because of the science but largely thanks to a media hue and cry over the alleged dangers posed by strong "skunk" cannabis.
If that is to be the basis of policy, it is hard to see what the point of the ACMD is any more.
The bigger worry is what this suggests about ministers' attitudes to science and to spin.
Gordon Brown likes to portray himself as less obsessed with spin and headlines than his predecessor.
That was always implausible but when such cynical objectives override science, and a policy that affects many people's lives, that is truly depressing.
A decent commentary, but couldn't help from prompting me to cast my mind back to the 'media hue and cry over the alleged dangers posed by strong "skunk" cannabis', and the particular papers that were the main culprits behind it. Ahem:
Follow the latest developments and coverage on the David Nutt/ACMD story in the miniblog (right)
pic from Oct 15th 2007