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'Take drug laws out of party politics'

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Professor David Nutt, the government's former chief adviser on drugs who was forced to resign yesterday, has called for the formation of an independent committee to advise on drugs policy outside the sphere of party politics.

Speaking on the programme, Prof Nutt, former head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said: "Surely what we should be doing regarding drug laws is taking them out of party politics, setting up an independent committee that decides on drug harms, ranks drugs according to some variation of the Misuse of Drugs Act and then puts that into legislation for parliament."

Prof Nutt left his post yesterday after criticising the government's decision to reclassify cannabis to Class B from C. He had accused ministers of devaluing and distorting evidence and said drugs classification was being politicised. The home secretary, Alan Johnson, said he had "lost confidence" in Prof Nutt's advice and asked him to step down.

Sir David King, the UK government's former chief scientific adviser, told the Today programme that, although Prof Nutt's comments had overstepped the line, it was "absolutely wrong" that he should not put his views into the public domain. Sir David added that the government "lacked courage" in not backing the professor's advice.

Prof Nutt also said that some of his colleagues on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs could resign in protest at his sacking.

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