[h2]An adviser who resigned in protest over the "criminalisation" of mephedrone is calling for a review of the way the Government's drugs advisory committee is treated.[/h2]
Eric Carlin became the second expert to leave the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs after Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced the unilateral decision to ban the dance drug - also known as "m-cat" or "meow meow".
"The chairman made it clear that he had to go to meet the Home Secretary at 3.30 in the afternoon, we had papers tabled which I hadn't actually seen before the meeting and the Home Secrety was briefed and was doing press conferences before we had even considered all our recommendations," he said.
"I hope that any incoming government will look at the role of independent advisers, but I do think if you have an expert advisory committee, you have to deal with them as experts not in the way we have been dealt with."
The council was in "deep trouble" and was "not doing its job" in the current circumstances, he said.
Mr Carlin called for a complete review of the drug classification system - something which was promised by Charles Clarke as Home Secretary but swiftly dropped.
"We need a proper discussion which involves scientists, drugs experts, people working in the field, drug users, young people and parents.
"We need to fundamentally reframe how we deal with this, dealing with it primarily as a public health issue not a criminal justice issue," he said.
His call for a review was backed by Professor Colin Blakemore, a member of the independent UK Drug Policy Commission who said that decisions on drug classification were now being taken "by politicians and red-top newspapers".
He said: "It is the politicians in the end who make the decisions but clearly we should be wanting our politicians to make decisions based on the best advice."
Prof Blakemore suggested that a new "Category X" could be created as a holding category for novel narcotics, where they could be subjected to some control while they are analysed and decisions were made over whether they should be banned.
Ministers, meanwhile, are pressing ahead with plans to ban the drug.
A Home Office spokesman said Mr Carlin's resignation was "regrettable" but added: "It does not impact on our plans to ban mephedrone and the other substances as soon as parliamentary times allows."
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