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  1. chillinwill
    New drugs chief said cannabis 'safer'

    New drugs chief Les Iversen said cannabis 'safer'

    A retired professor who said cannabis was one of the "safer" recreational drugs has taken over as chairman of the government's drugs advisory panel.

    Pharmacology specialist Les Iversen replaced David Nutt, who was sacked by the home secretary last October for "lobbying" against government policy.

    Prof Iversen said: "I think cannabis for the time being is past history."

    He said much more active attention was currently being paid to so-called legal highs such as mephedrone.

    Last year, Home Secretary Alan Johnson accused Prof Nutt of "crossing a line" into politics.

    Prof Nutt is setting up an independent drugs panel to rival the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

    Since that sacking, Prof Iversen, formerly of Oxford, has chaired the council's meetings.

    Following his appointment, Prof Iversen told the BBC: "I'm not the drug adviser to the government, I'm a spokesman for a large group of people on the advisory council, only a few of whom are scientists."

    Recreational drugs

    In an article in 2003, he wrote that cannabis had been "incorrectly" classified as a dangerous drug for nearly 50 years and said it was one of the "safer" recreational drugs.

    During his career, the professor's research has focused on the effects of drugs on the brain.

    BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said the appointment of Prof Iversen appeared to be an attempt by the Home Office to restore calm to the advisory council after a turbulent few months.

    Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "The ACMD makes a valued and important contribution to our understanding of drugs and their harms. I'm pleased Prof Iversen will be bringing his experience to the role of interim chair.

    "The council's work continues, including a forthcoming assessment on the harms of the so-called 'legal high' mephedrone, following on from our control of GBL, BZP and others late last year."

    Prof Nutt was sacked for calling cannabis less harmful than alcohol and nicotine, and saying it had been upgraded to Class B for political reasons.

    Five other members on the panel subsequently resigned.

    More vacancies

    In the weeks that followed, the home secretary tried to smooth over the row by making a number of concessions to his drugs advisers.

    Mr Johnson agreed to write to panel members to explain any decisions that went against their advice.

    He also said he would not pre-judge decisions on drug classification ahead of the committee issuing advice.

    However, work on the advisory council is understood to have "slowed down" and a number of meetings were postponed in the wake of the row.

    The Home Office has since said it could take two to three months to fill the vacancies left by the other resignations.

    Prof Nutt will hold the first meeting of his new Independent Council on Drug Harms on Thursday.

    He said five current members of the government's panel have agreed to attend.

    January 13, 2010
    BBC News
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8455642.stm

Comments

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: New drugs chief said cannabis 'safer'

    in the interview with him on BBC radio 5 today Audio Archive he now seems to say he no longer thinks marijuana should be decriminalized or legalized, and is a dangerous drug. Interviewer does a good job calling him out on this one- has his previous quotes on the subject on hand...

    A very good interview.
  2. Eratosthenese
    Re: New drugs chief said cannabis 'safer'

    I couldn't agree with his idea to reclassify the drug more completely. Now if only California only has the cojones to actually legalize it, we may be getting somewhere.
  3. bean.
    A former Oxford academic chosen to replace sacked Professor David Nutt as the head of the government's drugs advisory panel once called for the legalisation of cannabis.

    Professor Les Iverson, a retired pharmacologist, has in the past mirrored Professor Nutts comments that cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and even called for the drug to be made legal.
    He said: "Cannabis should be legalised not just decriminalised because it is comparatively less dangerous than legal drugs alcohol and tobacco."

    Yesterday Professor Iverson played down any potential clashes with Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, by suggesting the debate had moved on - and that he had changed his mind since his speech at a dinner in 2003 hosted by the Beckley Foundation, a charity in favour of regulating rather than banning drug use.

    He said: "I don't remember saying that, it's certainly not my position now. That was a view I had in 2003 and a great deal has happened since then.

    "We have now to confront the more potent forms of cannabis. We have the new evidence that arose since 2003 linking cannabis to psychiatric illness.

    "I think it's quite free for a scientist to change his mind when faced with new facts."

    Prof Iverson, who has sat on the committee for five years, said much more active attention was currently being paid to so-called legal highs such as mephedrone.

    "I'm not the drug adviser to the government, I'm a spokesman for a large group of people on the advisory council, only a few of whom are scientists."

    In October, Mr Johnson sacked Prof Nutt for "crossing a line" into politics. Prof Nutt, who is setting up a rival think-tank, said he was simply reiterating scientific fact.

    Five other members on the panel subsequently resigned in protest and have yet to be replaced.

    Professor Colin Blakemore, the neuroscientist, said Prof Iverson, a friend and former colleague, was conservative by nature but nevertheless shared the same views as his predecessor.

    "I see no reason that Les Iverson's view on ecstasy deviates from the conclusions of the ACMD in that it should be classified as B rather than A.

    "Similarly on cannabis that should have remained at C rather than being downgraded."

    In the weeks that followed Prof Nutt's sacking, the home secretary tried to smooth over the row by making a number of concessions to his drugs advisers.

    Mr Johnson agreed to write to panel members to explain any decisions that went against their advice.

    He also said he would not prejudge decisions on drug classification ahead of the committee issuing advice.



    Telegraph.co.uk
    Published: 2:18PM GMT 13 Jan 2010
    By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent






    Had a quick search and couldn't find it on DF. Just thought this was a funny one for you. Goverment sack a researcher for his views and the replacement feels exactly the same way.
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    similiar report here: New drugs chief Les Iversen said cannabis 'safer'

    in the other thread there is a link to the audio archive with a recent interview with Iverson in which he makes it clear he no longer supports marijuana legalization/decriminilization and in fact considers it a harmful/dangerous drug. A very good interview.
  5. bean.
    Bollocks :( like i said quick search
    Wouldn't suprise me if that's the goverment putting that in his mouth. Sell out lol :p
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