01 November 2009

Sir Liam speaks

"These things are best sorted out behind the scenes so that the government and their advisers can go to the public with a united front."
Sir Liam Donaldson

Which all seems a bit odd to Dr Grumble because the views of the advisers are clearly in the public domain having been published by the government. How can you have a united front when the government decides something that is plainly not consistent with the published evidence? And why have they picked on Professor Nutt because Sir Michael Rawlins said exactly the same? Below is what Sir Michael said as reported in the Daily Mail:

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, the advisory council's chairman, said drug users did not care whether a substance was in Class A, B or C.

The council's review acknowledged some link between cannabis and mental illness, but said the evidence was 'uncertain', and the connection was 'probable but weak', with the drug playing only a 'modest role' in causing mental health problems.

Prof Rawlins said: 'We estimate we would have to prevent 5,000 young males or 20,000 young females from ever smoking cannabis in order to prevent one case of schizophrenia.'

The advisers accepted skunk was becoming more common, but said there was some evidence users adjusted their intake - smoking less if the drug was stronger.

Prof Rawlins said: 'It's like alcohol - whisky is stronger than beer, but people don't drink pints of it.'

The experts also dismissed claims that cannabis is a 'gateway drug' leading to cocaine and heroin abuse - which they said was based on 'very weak evidence'.

Dr Grumble has seen people die from the effects of alcohol. He has seen people die from the effects of tobacco. He is yet to see a patient die from an overdose of cannabis. He is yet to see a patient even admitted to hospital as a result of the effects of cannabis.

When the government is arguing that black is white what are their advisers supposed to do?


Sam said...

"He is yet to see a patient die from an overdose of cannabis."

Because cannabis' use is not as wide spread as cigarettes? And statistics, therefore, will not be as comprehensive or as readily available?

I think the PM had no option but to ask prof Nutt to go, because he made his views public when he knew for fact they'd be against goverment policy. A leader has to lead!

Then again, IMO, even if cigarettes are more lethal, that doesn't mean you promote the use of cannabis too, does it?

Prof Nutt is genuine, but he made a mistake ... now he's being held accountable for it.

Dr Grumble said...

You can be forgiven for any misunderstanding, Sam, because Sir Liam failed to answer the question put to him about the relative risks of the drugs some parts of society consider acceptable such as tobacco and alcohol and, say, cannabis. He spoke a lot but said nothing. Andrew Marr failed to pick him up on it but it was clear from his circumlocution what he really thought. That's how he has survived for so long.

Dr Grumble said...

Oh, Sam, Dr Grumble quite forgot:

No-one has ever died as a direct and immediate consequence of recreational or medical use of cannabis.

You can't say that about many drugs. Not even penicillin.

Sam said...

Cannabis IS addictive though, as far as I hear! I wouldn't still give information that may promote it's use. Especially at a time when you want to persuade people to kick habits like smoking and alcohol! And you can't stand head to head in a confrontation against your leaders and think you can get away with it! We wouldn't have accepted if Alan Johnson did nothing! It's only common sense ... Think about it Dr G

You know I do value your opinion though ... most of the times :-)

the a&e charge nurse said...

We wouldn't have accepted if Alan Johnson did nothing! It's only common sense

Ignoring independent scientific advice then muzzling freedom of speech - where is the 'common sense' in that?

Dr Grumble said...

Dr Grumble is perfectly prepared to accept that there may be sound political reasons for concern about cannabis. It alarms Dr G that in 2005 27% of 15 yr olds in England reported using cannabis in the past year. But asking the scientists to fudge the facts in order to justify the policies is plain wrong and if any government does that it deserves the sort of response it has been getting.

daniel campos said...

Government tries to justify its madness by changing the word truth by "mixed messages" and the word lecture by "lobbying".

It's obvious to everyone that they do that because there is not evidence whatsoever to support the criminalisation of cannabis, ecstasy or LSD while alcohol and tobacco, being more harmful, are legal.