Neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt lost his job as the UK’s chief drug advisor when he publicly criticized the government’s drug policies. Now, as the Edmond J Safra professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, he’s publishing articles in prominent journals to encourage physicians to “embrace cannabis like penicillin.”

Nutt says that physicians embraced penicillin devoid of very first operating a complete suite of trials mainly because it met a big clinical have to have at the time. The identical is accurate for sufferers suffering from serious epilepsy and other debilitating situations, Nutt says, and consequently the response to healthcare cannabis should really be no distinct from how the healthcare profession embraced penicillin 70 years ago.

Distinguished Professor Desires Physicians to Overcome Fears About Prescribing Cannabis

The UK’s restrictive drug laws have been in the spotlight extra than a handful of occasions in current years. A quantity of higher-profile situations of young sufferers becoming denied access to healthcare cannabis items, which includes non-psychoactive CBD generated such public outcry that UK lawmakers had to move the needle—slightly—on healthcare cannabis policy. Regardless of the loosening of the UK’s restrictive policy, even so, physicians have nonetheless been reticent to really prescribe cannabis to sufferers, specially minors.

As a outcome, Nutt stated, the rollout of the UK’s healthcare cannabis plan “has been substantially slower than sufferers and parents had hoped.”

Nutt stated the healthcare neighborhood is nonetheless riven with fears and issues about the adverse public wellness implications of prescribing cannabis. Nutt pointed out fears about cannabis-induced psychosis, “ignorance” about healthcare cannabis’ worth and the challenges of getting items as big obstacles.

But although Nutt is calling for extra study to investigate these issues, he nonetheless feels physicians should really embrace healthcare cannabis treatment options.

Controversial Comparisons from Contentious Professor

Teachers know that a startling analogy can at times be the ideal way to drive house a point, and Professor Nutt is no stranger to controversial comparisons. In 2009, Nutt was fired from his post as the UK’s Chief Drug Advisor following he compared taking ecstasy to riding a horse.

In an editorial published in Journal of Psychopharmacology, titled “Equasy—An overlooked addiction with implications for the existing debate on drug harms,” Nutt produced the Swiftian argument that horse-riding presented a substantially higher harm to the public than illegal club drugs. Comparing prices of severe adverse events among the two activities—1/350 for horse riding, 1/10,000 for ecstasy/MDMA—Nutt produced the statistical case that an addiction to horse riding was way worse than taking ecstasy.

Nutt stated the point of the editorial was to draw focus to the way society measures the harm of drugs versus the harm of accepted and legal activities. But then-House Secretary Jacqui Smith didn’t appreciate the rhetorical move. Smith sharply criticized Nutt and fired him from his post more than the editorial.

Now, Nutt is at it once again. In an write-up for the healthcare journal BMJ, the professor compared the British healthcare community’s historical embrace of penicillin to its have to have to embrace cannabis nowadays.

“About 70 years ago a further organic medicine came into the healthcare arena,” Nutt stated of penicillin. “This was welcomed enthusiastically by UK physicians even although there had been no placebo-controlled trials of its efficacy, mainly because it was noticed to fulfill a big clinical have to have.”

Nutt feels sufferers with serious and debilitating situations in the UK present an equally urgent clinical have to have. And he desires physicians to respond by prescribing extra cannabis.