Drugs Without the Hot Air: Minimizing the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs

Book information

  • Date read: 2020-04-15
  • Author: David J. Nutt
  • Genre: Science
  • Rating: 5*
  • Goodreads page


David was chairmen of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to the Cameron government – Though was sacked soon after stating that cannabis was safer than alcohol. In this book, he outlines the dangers and effects of various drugs from a scientific standpoint, not political.

Key points

  • The government largely ignores the advice of the ACMD and doesn’t base policy on scientific evidence
  • Horse riding is more dangerous than taking Ecstasy
  • Quite a radical book in the sense that if it was to be implemented it would mean a top to bottom reform in drug laws in the UK – none of which comes as a surprise
  • Talks about the failings of drug laws and how putting people in prison for taking any class of drugs is counterintuitive – being in prison is more harmful than taking drugs, and also very expensive
  • Not a full libertarian stance, though instead, it is better to introduce laws to manage harms and risks i.e:
  • Ban on smoking indoors and in public places is good
  • Tighten the laws on some alcohol laws, as seen in Scotland’s 10 pm rule
  • Treating addiction to heroin and cocaine as a health issue instead of criminal
  • Tax alcohol per alcohol unit, i.e reverse the trend of drinks getting stronger and instead converge towards weaker alcohol content