In case the title might throw you a bit, this blog post is about a contemporary scientist over-stating the amount of persecution that Galileo received by the hands of the Church… which was “founded” by a fellow from Galilee. So don’t start off by confusing the two historic figures.
Professor David Nutt has a few reasonable points now and then. Recently he has criticized restrictions on research involving controlled substances such as opioids and hallucinogenics. While he’s not persuaded of the harms of these drugs (and managed to undercut the UK drug advisory body in the process), restrictions on the ability to measure the impacts of these substances do nothing to assist the capacity to help those addicted to or otherwise affected by them.
Regrettably, Nutt comes across as a much better publicist than advocate. Fond of big gestures and dramatic actions, he can make for good copy. But in his exhortations to drop bans on drugs research (and frankly, on the drugs as well), Nutt manages to diminish his own cause by elevating it (and by extension himself) into a martyrdom both unappealing an unearned.
Nutt continues to stoke cognitive dissonance in articles about relative harms, but lately…
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I don’t know much about Prof. Nutt’s tactics, but it does seem clear to me that many drug laws here in America are sumptuary, which is to say they are based entirely on some old white lawmakers’ idea of good Christian morality and have nothing whatsoever to do with harm reduction. The war on drugs is unbelievably more destructive of human life and wasteful of public spending than legalization would be. Many American states are starting to come around to this realization at least with cannabis, which is far less addictive and hazardous to health than tobacco and alcohol, and for than matter, caffeine and sugar. Every substance should be treated separately, since they are so very unique in their effects and potential for addiction. Psychedelics pose a very low risk for addiction and like cannabis obviously do have health applications (both psychological and physical), applications which have been known by every human society for thousands of years up until modern industrial society decided they posed a danger to its way of life.
Wholeheartedly agree that the war on drugs is a failure and nothing better than an example of what happens when a few people’s misconceptions about an issue entirely fund their desire to legislate the issue.