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Three more scientists have resigned from the UK drug advisory body after the home secretary sacked of its chief advisor, Professor David Nutt, for disagreeing with government policy on marijuana.

The trio quit after a meeting with Home Secretary Alan Johnson that was called to reassure them that their independence would not be compromised, according to the BBC.

According to the BBC, the latest to resign are doctors John Marsden, Ian Ragan, and Simon Campbell. Their departure would mean six of the panel's 31 members appointed to advise Johnson on drugs policy have defected in solidarity with Nutt.

Professor Nutt was sacked more than a week ago in response to views he expressed in an academic journal in January and a lecture he later gave at King's College London. He spoke out against the government's decision to toughen penalties for possessing marijuana and argued that the drug is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

Johnson accused Nutt of playing politics, saying he "crossed the line between offering advice and then campaigning against the government on political decisions."

In a statement released by the Home Office, the meeting was described as "very constructive," and there was no mention of the resignations. It went on to say that it was agreed that the drug advisory body would continue discussions with the Home Office and Government chief scientific advisors to establishing a way to work together with the common purpose of reducing drug-related harms in the UK.

Liberal Democrat science spokesman Dr. Evan Harris told the BBC that the resignations coming after the meeting demonstrates that Johnson "doesn't get it" when it comes to respecting the academic freedom of independent, unpaid, science advisors. ®

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