Gordon Brown backs drug adviser David Nutt’s sacking

Author: By Jack Doyle, Press Association

The Prime Minister said Professor David Nutt’s comments gave the impression
the Government was sending “mixed messages” about drugs.

He said the Government could not risk sending out the message that it was
acceptable for young people to experiment with cannabis, as this could lead
to more becoming addicted to hard drugs.

He told an audience of police, council workers and members of the public in
Shoreditch, east London, today: “Advisers advise and ministers have to make
decisions.”

He said: “I think Alan Johnson made the right decision because we cannot send
mixed messages.

“Scientific advice is very important and we value it. You can see that with
swine flu, with climate change and with all sorts of environmental problems.

“But advisers advise and ministers have to make decisions.

“In the interests of the public we have to show we are tough on drug dealing
and the problems that drugs are causing in our communities.”

He added: “We cannot send out a message to young people that it’s OK to
experiment with drugs and to move on to hard drugs. We have to send out a
message to young people that it’s simply not acceptable.”

Mr Brown said young people needed to be protected from dangerous new strains
of “adulterated” cannabis.

He went on: “I think the issue here is we did have advice that we should not
reclassify cannabis. We did not accept that.

“We have to take a broader view in the round that was more than just the
scientific advice. It’s about the effects on young people that drugs are
harmful and not acceptable.”

He said Prof Nutt’s “consistent disagreement” of opinion undermined the
Government’s message on drugs.

Prof Nutt was sacked by Mr Johnson on Friday, sparking a row between ministers
and the scientific community.

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