Petition: Halt and reverse the slide towards incorrect, confusing and politically driven drugs (mis)information.
The Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs recommended that Cannabis remain in Class C, but the Home Office put it up to Class B, sending totally the wrong signal to youngsters who have tried Cannabis and found it to be fairly harmless. Will they now try the other drugs in Class B, which include Amphetamines and Barbiturates?
Recently, Ecstasy was recommended to be moved from Class A to B, again ignored. Many young people have used this drug too, and while it can be harmful, it is nowhere near as dangerous as Heroin and Cocaine, also in class A. Let's hope that none of our young people get hooked on Heroin or Crack Cocaine, thinking they were as much fun as the Ecstasy they've used.
If information on drugs is not truthful, correct and based on real evidence from those who are involved in dealing with drugs users, it will be ignored.
I respectfully suggest that the classification system is now so corrupted with widely differing levels of harm within the same class, it no longer gives any real guidance to anyone and should be abolished.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, drugs that are considered dangerous or otherwise harmful are placed into one of three classes, A, B or C, broadly in accordance with the assessment of the physical and social harm caused, or capable of being caused, by misuse of the drug in question. These classifications are kept under review and any changes can only take place after consultation with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
It is the role of the Advisory Council to provide advice on harms, but for Government to make decisions on classification, taking into account all relevant issues and concerns, experience, values and judgement relating to public protection and health, including public perceptions, and for Parliament to endorse or reject those decisions where a change in the law is proposed. If Parliament intended that classification should solely be about harm as assessed by the Council, it is reasonable to conclude that the 1971 Act would have made that explicit.
The current drug classification system has a dedicated purpose – to set a framework within which criminal penalties are set with predominant reference to the harm caused by a drug. The criminal justice system expects – and Government must provide – a stable and enduring system. The Coalition Government considers that the present ABC classification continues to do this effectively.
By using a 3-tier system, the distinctions between those drugs controlled by the 1971 Act are clearer and more meaningful, but the classes are necessarily broad to accommodate the more than 500 named drugs placed in them. The system allows distinct divisions to be made between the most harmful drugs and those that are considered less harmful. It also provides an intermediate class which affords the system far more subtle and flexible distinctions. In respect of the classification of some drugs there will be a natural tension and consequentially much debate as to the class within which that drug should sit, but that does not make the system weak or less than robust; it simply reflects the complexities of ranking individual drugs.
The Government recognises that the law can only go so far. It is the aim of Government communications on drugs to provide credible and accurate information on the legal consequences and the health harms of taking drugs. It is therefore incumbent upon the Government to explain the classification of a drug, but this is not the basis of drug communications. The FRANK website, for example, focuses on health and social risks, normative education and resistance skills to ensure that young people understand the risks and dangers of drugs and their use and that they know where to go for advice or help.
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.