Former MP and medical doctor Dr Evan Harris lit out at the Home Office today for denying scientists to have their say over cannabis and other drugs. Letting kids smoke cannabis was better than turning them into criminals, he said. He had something to say about badgers too.
Harris – a medical doctor – lost his seat last year as Libdem MP for West Oxford and Abingdon by just a few votes. He now writes for the Guardian, it appears.
But tonight, at the Port Mahon pub in St Clements – Staropramen 380 pence a pint – he took the opportunity at the monthly SciBar event to accuse the last Labour government of being more than a little economical with the truth.
He claimed the last government changed the rules on classifying recreational drugs by overriding the rules because of political expediency. He told the audience at the Port Mahon pub: “I don’t know why Jacqui Smith has a down on horse riding.”
He said that every scientific advisor had agreed it was a good idea to declassify cannabis from category B to C. But because of a story in the Mail on Sunday, the Labour government broke the law.
Jacqui Smith, the Home Officer, he alleged, dragged the scientific advisory chair out of a meeting in his doctor’s clinic and demanded he apologise for saying crimininalising cannabis users was worse than letting the guys smoke pot.
Said Harris: “The government shouldn’t intimidate scientists. The scientist did nothing wrong. All he did was defend the evidence he had gathered in his capacity as a scientist.”
Harris accused the Home Office of a knee jerk reaction. He said that the Home Office hadn’t even realised it had a scientific officer. In fact, he said, every government department has a scientific officer and the Department of Health didn’t realise it had one either.
Dr Harris said that the last government seemed to be afraid of the badger lobby. 50,000 badgers, he said, were killed on the road every year.
“It’s very dangerous for Michael Landsley to say anything,” he claimed. He seems to think that the Home Office is absolutely useless. The Minister of the Interior was not available at press time. Nor was Private Eye. But a rep from Private Eye was there, we understand.