Former government adviser says regulations make it too difficult to research psychoactive drugs with potential medical uses
Alok Jha, science correspondent
Ecstasy and cannabis should be freely available for study.
The classification system that makes drugs such as cannabis and MDMA (ecstasy) illegal has prevented scientists from properly researching their possible therapeutic uses for conditions such as schizophrenia and depression, according to the government’s former chief adviser on drugs.
Professor David Nutt said the UK’s laws on misuse of drugs needed to be rewritten to more accurately reflect their relative harms and called for a regulated approach to making drugs such as MDMA and cannabis available for medical and research purposes.
“Regulations, which are arbitrary, actually make it virtually impossible to research these drugs,” said Nutt. “The effect these laws have had on research is greater than the effects that [George] Bush stopping stem cell research has had because it’s been going on since the 1960s.”
“I’m not in favour of legalisation, a free open market of all drugs – that does lead to more use,” he said. “We need regulated access across the board.”
This would mean drugs such as cannabis, MDMA or PZP being made available for treatments through a pharmacy. Patients could be issued with a card and given access to an annual supply, he said. “Then at least you would know what you were getting.”