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Marijuana policy controversy continues in UK

“Some people get the giggles after using cannabis — you may laugh at the most random things” cautions “FRANK,” the UK’s anti-drug website. Despite declining drug use in the country, in January the British government changed marijuana’s classification from a “Class C” to a “Class B” drug; possession now carries a maximum penalty of five ...

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LONDON - MAY 3: Two British police officers on patrol during the London Cannabis Day of Action Festival May 3, 2003 in London. The annual May Day event is organised by pro-cannabis organisations and individuals and is linked to international demonstrations around the world. The British government intends to "downgrade" cannabis from a class "B" to a class "C" drug. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

“Some people get the giggles after using cannabis — you may laugh at the most random things” cautions “FRANK,” the UK’s anti-drug website. Despite declining drug use in the country, in January the British government changed marijuana’s classification from a “Class C” to a “Class B” drug; possession now carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, while dealing can get you 14 years in jail.

Professor David Nutt, formerly a member of the UK’s independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, was fired for publicly disputing the decision; five other members of the 31-person Council have since resigned in protest of the politically-motivated firing. In a lecture (later published), Nutt argued that the use of illicit drugs like marijuana and ecstasy poses less severe health risks than the use of alcohol or tobacco. Nutt has also equated the dangers of ecstasy use and the risks of horseback riding.

Nutt’s firing and the subsequent resignations have caused quite a political row, with politicians and scientists making pointed attacks on home secretary Alan Johnson, who gave Nutt the axe. “Your leader on drugs policy is long on righteous indignation but short on logic” wrote Johnson in a defensive letter published in The Guardian.

Nutt fired back in a column published in The Telegraphwriting, “Some politicians find it easier to ignore the evidence, and pander to public prejudice instead.”

Photo: SCOTT BARBOUR/Getty Images

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