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Mephedrone ban 'took too long' chief drugs adviser says

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    The government's advisers took too long to recommend banning mephedrone, allowing dealers to build up a stash of the drug, its chief drug adviser says.

    The first problems with mephedrone were highlighted in September 2009, but the drug was not banned until March 2010.

    Professor Les Iversen said he was "fairly confident" that "a good deal of stockpiling was going on" between January and March 2010.

    Mephedrone became a class B drug, the same as speed or cannabis, last April.

    Referring to the banning of mephedrone, Professor Iversen said: "There's a danger here of not acting quickly enough."

    He said the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs would need to act more quickly with the planned new temporary banning orders which are currently going through Parliament.

    'Heavy burden'
    "One of the points of having a temporary-class drugs order is that it's something that can be done in a hurry and put a clamp on the further escalation of the use of that particular compound.

    "So if we take too long about our deliberations, as we probably did in the case of mephedrone, it gives the users and dealers an opportunity to buy and stockpile that drug during the period while it's still legal.

    "So while we want quick action, we don't want to make a hasty decision that we regret later. There's a fine balance to be had there," he said.

    Under new plans, the ACMD will have 20 days to consider an initial ban and then around a year to provide a full report of the associated harms.

    Prof Iversen also warned the temporary bans would place a "heavy burden in terms of workload" on the ACMD and called for a research budget to be ring-fenced to enable them to carry out basic research into the effects of the drugs.

    "It can be done on quite a limited budget, but someone needs to have a budget," he said.

    12 April 2011


  1. Phenoxide
    Hilarious. The ACMD must be even more incompetent than I thought if it wasn't on their agenda at all until September 2009. Certainly the final quarter of that year saw an exponential growth in interest in mephedrone, but there was plenty of prior knowledge about it. It had been on the EU's radar for years but was not considered a high priority. The fact that they hadn't even done their homework on it and needed to cobble together something to support the ban shows that they've not been doing their jobs properly.

    In other words we're favoring arguments from ignorance and banning things because of a lack of information. While I understand there are good intentions for doing so, how far can you really push that philosophy? I'm concerned about escalation in sales of McDonald's cheeseburgers, so perhaps these should be temporarily scheduled until their health risks can be fully assessed?

    I'd argue that you need at least some positive evidence that indicates a significant potential health risk for a temporary ban to be justifiable. There's no talk of such safeguards here though, which makes it seem the sole purpose of this is to ban substances we know absolutely nothing about just because people might get high on them.

    Why's that a big issue? It's not as if since the ban there's been a huge number of troublesome prosecutions for illicit possession and distribution of mephedrone. If anything the market fizzled out relatively efficiently.

    Haha, of course.. the lack of money is why they are incompetent! Never mind that they've failed to reach out to UK academia and industry for support in their work. In the current climate who doesn't want ring-fenced funding?

    It's not going to happen though, and that is the major flaw in all this. So substances are to be temporarily scheduled and the ACMD then has up to a year to evaluate them more thoroughly. There is no infrastructure whatsoever in the UK for conducting the necessary research, so the committee is always going to return with a half-baked report much like they did for mephedrone and particularly naphthylpyrovalerone. No doubt the reports will consistently recommend permanent scheduling in a similarly half-baked way, because there is no way in a year they are going to conduct research that demonstrates a substance to be perfectly safe.

    So in effect they're pushing this holding category as a progressive drugs policy, but in reality it's just an expedient way of snap banning new drugs without having to justify it fully. Knowing this country it'll be the MPs rather than the ACMD that get to make the decision on which substances are temporarily controlled too. Progressive indeed.
  2. Seaquake
    Well Oct 2009 to Jan 2010 was the period where all the members of the ACMD were being sacked / quitting over the sacking. Les King appeared to have done a large amount of the work on the Synthetic Cannabinoids, and I guess he was dealing with Mephedrone when he quit. which is probably why the mephedrone one was so half-baked.
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