LONDON – Britain's top drug adviser was fired Friday after saying that marijuana, Ecstasy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol.
David Nutt's comments have embarrassed the British government, which moved to toughen the penalties for possessing marijuana earlier this year despite protests from the British scientific community, which said the move was unjustified.
Nutt said he was disappointed by the move, telling Sky News television that it might have something to do with the upcoming general election, which must be called by the middle of next year.
"But politics is politics and science is science and there's a bit of a tension between them sometime," he told the broadcaster by telephone.
Britain's Home Office confirmed that Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology, had been asked to resign and said it would be seeking a replacement shortly.
Nutt's views on marijuana have long been known. He made similar comments in a 2007 piece published in prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet.
But in a recent lecture for the Center for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College in London, Nutt accused former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of "distorting and devaluing" research. He said Smith's decision to tighten restrictions on marijuana as a precautionary step had undermined public faith in government science.
"I think we have to accept young people like to experiment — with drugs and other potentially harmful activities — and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives," he said.
"If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you are probably wrong."