I don't think that government ministers should necessarily listen to the advice they're given by independent, expert authorities. That is, the government is and should be free to decide that, whatever the merits of any given piece of independent analysis the larger, more general, interest is best served by rejecting that advice.
So there's nothing wrong with Alan Johnson sacking Professor David Nutt. That's his prerogative. But we have our own views and interests too. And we may fairly say that Johnson is a fool and that Nutt's recommendation, shared by his colleagues at Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, that Cannabis should be reclassified at a Class C, not Class B, drug is eminently sensible. For that matter, his observation that horse-riding is more dangerous than taking ecstasy was a dangerously provocative statement that doubtless also helped seal his fate: provocative because, of course, it was dangerously, irresponsibly true.
It's a little bit depressing to think that if one were to use the Drug War as a vote-determinig issue one would have little choice but to endorse the Liberal Democrats. In other words, the Tories are no better than Labour. The increasinginly buffoonish Chris Grayling seems to have decided that his mission in politics is to prove that he can be every bit as moronically doctrinaire and authoritarian as his Labour counterparts. This despite the fact that his own party leader was a cannabis enthusiast for many years.
But the Tories' attitude towards drugs is telling, not least because it undermines all their talk of personal freedoms and the importance of individual responsibility. If they can't get something as simple as the Drug War right what can they be trusted on?
Standard Drugs-Related Disclaimer: Cannabis bores me and I doubt I've had more than a couple of joints since leaving university. But my views would be no different if I were a regular user and I see nothing wrong with the consumption of cannabis or, for that matter, any of the other drugs that are, for reasons illogical and unpersuasive, currently illegal.