By Mike Meno
Back in October, the British government fired its chief drug adviser, Prof. David Nutt, for saying that marijuana is less dangerous than many legal drugs and that British laws should be changed to reflect this reality. Many other members of the United Kingdom’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs resigned in protest.
Then this week, Les Iversen, a former pharmacology professor at the University of Oxford, was announced as Nutt’s interim replacement as the council’s chairman. And guess what? He’s also said that the UK’s marijuana laws should change.
British media are reporting that in 2003, Prof. Iverson gave a lecture in which he said marijuana use should no longer be criminal “because it is comparatively less dangerous than legal drugs alcohol and tobacco.” Iverson has tried to distance himself from those comments somewhat (perhaps so he too does not get fired!) but it seems evident that as a distinguished academic and scientist who has examined the evidence, Iversen—like Nutt—knows it is wrong to impose harsher penalties on those who use a safer substance.
Meanwhile, Nutt today announced the creation of his own, independent committee, which The Guardian reports “has the potential to embarrass the [British] government, due to its determination to make public the evidence on the relative risks and harms of drugs without regard to political sensitivities.”