Not Mind-Changing on Drugs

John Rentoul

nutt 279x300 Not Mind Changing on DrugsDavid Nutt, Drugs – Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs (UIT Cambridge, 31 May 2012)

A good book, full of information, but which suffers as a polemic from Nutt’s preferred style of debate. I read it because it was shortlisted for Polemic of the Year at the Political Book Awards. But, as a polemic, its purpose should be, we assume, to argue for the declassification, decriminalisation or legalisation of some drugs.

Nutt hardly bothers to consider the differences between these three options, or indeed to argue for any of them. His favourite device is to compare the “harm” caused by, say, ecstasy or cannabis, with that caused by horse-riding or alcohol. (Less.)

That is interesting and part of the debate, but it does not answer the question: would changing the legal status of certain drugs result in more or less harm?

A useful book for an intelligent young person who wants to know the facts, but it will not change minds and it did not change mine: illegal drugs should stay illegal.

Tagged in: , ,
  • Sasha Dowding

    “illegal drugs should stay illegal” – It seems that you offer us as much explanation for your view as Nutt supposedly does for the decriminalisation of illegal drugs in his book.

  • Colin Saxton

    Politicians increased the opening times for drinking and also drink is now cheaper than ever before…take a good look at the city centers on a friday/saturday night and you can see what the soft touch does…

    If you legalize certain (currently illegal) drugs you begin the slippery slope of legalizing all drugs for recreational use…one can imagine at some point in the future going to a shop and buying ecstasy tablets in a box with a picture of an overdosed individual on the front warning us of the dangers…but allowing it anyway!?

    Yep cigarettes is one of the biggest killers out there yet no one cares…make as many laws as you want but men (where money is concerned) don’t care for themselves or their children…they just want to have what they want and they want to make money why they do it.

    If we want a way out of this mess – and I can hear the responses now of the ignorant and unbelieving (sigh…) – then you need to turn to God and ask for forgiveness and he will guide you to Christ where you will find forgiveness and new life through Him.

    “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that who should ever believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned but he that believes not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”

    If you are moderating this message and you decide to remove it because you don’t believe then let it be known to you that God declares in His word that the gospel of Christ is “foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”…

    and if it has made itself to the public and you laugh and scoff at this then Christ says – “As in Noah’s day it will be the same as in the last days before my return”.

    In Noah’s day they laughed him to scorn…I mean..anyone who builds a boat in the desert is crazy isn’t he? But the floods came and the world was covered and they all perished from the face of the earth…only those who headed the warning and went into the ark were saved…let me tell you…

    You may laugh, and you may scorn, but the day is coming that this world will not again be covered with water but it will be ablaze with a whirl wind of fire moving through the land and of God in Heaven and only those who trust in the saving merits of Christ will be saved…That is to say that:

    “He died for your sins and was raised the third day from the dead to justify all those who believe…to give everlasting life to those that turn to Him for forgiveness…lifting the curse that has plagued man since Eden – death”

    But if you ignore this saving gospel and you turn to your own ways then let it be known that God says you are “creating sparks around yourself” to try and save yourselves from His wrath and you will perish because there is no other name (beside Jesus Christ) under Heaven given amongst men that you can be saved.

    That is the answer to all of mans problems and if you don’t like and reject Christ – its guaranteed with absolute certainty – you will perish in eternal flames.

    Get yourselves to Christ – turn to Him now while He yet may be found – because there is a day coming that it will be too late to turn to Him and then you will go down to the pit with sorrow and anguish and these words I speak to you now will play on your mind for eternity.

  • Josh Russell

    Yup. You may be right on the book but you’re wrong on the drugs debate and show very little understanding of the issue.

  • Josh Russell

    Do you know how dangerous unadulterated ecstasy is? You don’t? No. Because you’re trolling and you don’t understand the scientific and sociological reasons behind the debate.

  • Titlark

    The quality of drugs has been getting steadily worse over the last 10 years in my experience. And now with any tom-dick-and-harry able to set up a lab and cook up some new ‘legal high’, things are getting worse still.

    We need a philosophical debate rather than the endless political shuffling on classifications. And whilst the illegal drug takers (who live and work in all walks of society) are criminalised, there really is no outlet for communication.

    Sadly our culture is one of misinformation, hypocrisy and knee-jerk reactions. Maybe books like this will prove to be enlightening for some, but I fear things will get worse yet.

  • forumula_freddy

    “Nutt hardly bothers to consider the differences between these three options, or indeed to argue for any of them.”

    This is what is known as completely misunderstanding the purpose of the book. The “Without the hot air” in the title should give some clue as to why he specifically didn’t cover this topic.

  • Brian Corbett

    “illegal drugs should stay illegal”.

    I think this is simplistic and, at best, only partially true. How is it the state’s business if I want to smoke the odd joint? It isn’t, and legislation will follow this logic fairly soon I believe.

  • Raymond Vazquez, PhD

    Wait a minute, as a former neuroscientist on the cutting of theoretical
    brain operations the key here is much deeper than the legal status of this or
    that drug

    It is about a revolution
    taking place right now on the underpinning neurochemistry and electrical
    dynamics of the human brain. The coming
    insights will change forever the relationship between individual minds to
    itself (and therefore our entire civilization’s possibilities). Religion tried to fill this gap of ignorance
    but as all will admit it has run out of steam (except for its advocacy of man’s
    humanity to man).

    If our society does not begin to have an informed,
    unemotional and intellectual discussion of what is going on in the human mind
    and drugs ( for both ill and therapy) then we have no chance in the next
    decades of overcoming all 10,000 years of cruelty and suffering inflicted on
    others in the name ” I know what is right”.

    So, let’s move toward a new relationship to what we call
    drugs. BTW, as a neuroscientist no human
    who has not acquired a mature brain ( now KNOWN to be ~ 18 – 21 yrs. old) be
    allowed to experiment with any type of unnatural substances, including alcohol,
    nicotine and cannabis. We now KNOWN
    critical brain development can be irreversibly damaged by these substances prior to maturation..

  • Glen Kristensen

    ‘it did not change mine: illegal drugs should stay illegal.’

    I’d like to see you look a few Mexicans in the eye and make the case for that being the least bad option.

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter