New advertisements in the UK expose the risk of legal highs

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    New advertisements in the UK expose the risk of legal highs

    A new information campaign which highlights the risks of so called ‘legal highs’ was launched today by Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

    The campaign by FRANK, aimed at 18-24 year old clubbers including the student clubbing community, highlights the potential danger of these substances, particularly when mixed with alcohol. Evidence suggests that clubbers are most likely to come into contact with and potentially use these drugs.

    The theme of the campaign ‘the Crazy Chemist’ highlights that these are dangerous substances, you never know what you are taking or what effect they might have on your body.

    The campaign includes:

    * Advertising in clubs - posters, flyers and wristbands in clubs. Flyer activity outside clubs and in bars and record shops;

    * Online activity - targeted advertising that appears when people try to buy certain ‘legal highs’ online, adverts and articles on clubbing and student websites; and

    * Partnership with the National Union of Student (NUS) and Mixmag magazine - NUS partnership includes distribution of posters and flyers at student electronic and house music nights at key universities. Mixmag partnership includes advertising in magazine and distribution of posters and flyers.

    Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

    “There is sometimes a misconception that because a substance is legal it is safe to consume, that is not the case, they are dangerous chemicals.

    “Through this campaign we want to educate young people who might be tempted to experiment with ‘legal highs’ that they don’t know what they are taking and these substance can have devastating effects, particularly when mixed with alcohol.”

    Last month the government set out plans to control a range of so called ‘legal highs’ including the chemical solvent GBL (gamma-butyrolactone), synthetic cannabinoids (man-made chemicals sprayed on herbal smoking products such as ‘Spice’) and BZP (a synthetic stimulant). Subject to parliamentary approval, these substances will be banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 by the end of the year.

    Source: Home Office Posted on: 21st September 2009

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
  2. MrG
    What a stunningly outrageous bit of bullshit.

    Ok, I'm going to cover what's wrong with the claims about GBL, feel free to chip in with your own points highlighting what is wrong with the other wild claims.
    Ok, first point, let's call it gamma-butyrolactone, because that *is* it's correct name. As an organic solvent it *can* be used to remove paint but it is actually a mild mucous membrane irritant so its paint-stripping ability doesn't really apply to the human body.

    Second, are they trying to imply that GBL is being made in clandestine labs? I think you'll find that most people in the UK who consume it are doing so with BASF manufactured GBL. BASF are hardly clandestine chemists.

    Or is it more likely that, because it is produced in a chemical process, they can claim that it gives you an "artificial" high? So my third point is this: What the fuck is an artificial high? You are either high or you are not, nothing artificial about it!

    Which brings me to my final point, the *one* bit of useful advice is to not mix GBL with alcohol. But, what with all the hysterical (funny or crazy?) bullshit that precedes this *one* bit of decent advice, it is likely to achieve nothing more than to scare the bejesus out of a lot of parents and confuse and misinform the young adults this campaign is aimed at.

    Crazy Chemist indeed. If you can't persuade the kids to refrain from using drugs, at least have the decency to tell them how to use drugs safely instead of all this nonsense.
  3. One Eyed
    I agree with Mr. G - I hate it when the media get ahold of an isolated incident and point to the legal high as the root cause. It's always sad when accidents occur but look at the big picture - did the young man on acid think he could fly out the window or did he fall while trying to vomit out of it because of too much alcohol?!?! The media will always go for the sensational stories because they know they'll get a "positive" reaction from the ignorant and misinformed public: "eeh isn't it shocking what the young ones of today get into," "they deserved it for taking drugs" etc. etc. That last comment I actually heard from an old guy who I always see about town, and he's usually drunk. For all the respect I have for him -he's a good laugh- that last remark made me think HOW HYPOCRITICAL?! How much damage does he do to his liver, supping X amount of beer throughout the week?

    Typical example of the propaganda and choice of words straight from the FRANK website, link mentioned above:
    Talking about Spice, the Crazy Chemist says "it could be more harmful than cannabis – he guarantees that!"
    Note it doesn't say that it's PROVEN to be more harmful, just that it could. Any of us can guarantee anything about it for that matter if we phrase it like that. It COULD also be less harmful than a morning coffee, or the amount of CO2 you breathe in when cycling behind a bus - I guarantee that! Of course if there is research that proves that it IS more harmful then well done for saying so; maybe people will stick to cannabis.

    I remember reading an article somewhere about a boy from USA who had a chemistry assignment. He outlined a chemical named DHMO -dihydrogen monoxide- and the dangers it holds. DHMO .org/facts is the link (sorry I'm not allowed to post hyperlinks until after 50 posts so I had to break it up). Also on Wikipedia, search for DHMO Hoax. This Wikipedia article outlines everything, including a few public figures/government officials' attempts at banning it!

    It is of course H2O. Strange how so many of the public and government officials in America felt the need to take action on this potentially lethal substance lol. Yet we see the same sort of propaganda all the time on these chemicals for sale, including again on the FRANK website, talking about BZP: "made from piperazine, a de-worming agent for farm animals..." Very clever that, trying to make it appear repungent by associating it with intestinal worms and farm animals.

    FRANK and the rest of them lose all credibility though when they make outlandish statements and try to bend or twist the truth so when they do strike on something or have something important to say, who'll be listening? How are people supposed to know which info is legitimate and which is bullshit?

    Fair play it makes a valid point of GBL and alcohol being a very dangerous mix and hopefully people will take note and do one or the other. I've never done GBL and don't intend to but what I don't accept is that it should be banned because of its bad relationship with alcohol. Whatever happened to choice? What, we all have to drink alcohol if we want a head change? Or smoke a few cancer sticks? It's about time alcohol made some room for the other substances!
  4. Amnesia
    As an 'informative campaign' this is so badly executed it is *almost* funny.
    This kind of thing reminds SWIM of the old Aids awareness campaign that was run in the late 80s / early 90s (she can’t recall exactly when). It gave no real explanations, no science, no symptoms – it was a scare tactic that left the population terrified and full of questions.

    These things seem to be designed not to inform, but to simply scare the crap out of people in the hope that this fear will somehow prevent anyone from experimenting with psychoactive substances - heaven forbid anyone from giving hard evidence or sensible advice (the no-no on GBL and alcohol aside).

    They might as well just have some random guy in a lab coat holding up handfuls of ‘legal highs’ and shouting, “Take these and you’ll die!”
  5. One Eyed
  6. Nature Boy
    This is one of the main problems with the legal high industry and why it won't last. If they at least listed what was contained within their products, a few intelligent people could actually research whatever substances are contained and then make a decision whether to indulge in the stuff or not. Some of the packaging is far too vague. Like any food product, its list of ingredients should be included starting with the most prevalent and ending with the smallest quantity. But what will the government do? They'll just slam the door shut, ban a few substances and hand the black market some more customers. Then we'll repeat the same tiring process the next time a new family of drugs is synthesized.

    And I wonder who created that misconception with their paradoxical public policies. By outlawing many relatively harmless drugs and allowing several dangerous drugs, namely tobacco and alcohol, the wrong message is being sent out. People will never understand unless drug policy is universal e.g. ban everything or legalise everything. Obviously the banning everything option is completely absurd considering it's a natural human function to want to alter your consciousness but for public policy to have any sort of efficacy, a consistency must be maintained. Of course I'm in favour of a liberal drugs policy as opposed to locking people up for having a smidgen of weed stuck to the end of their shoe.
  7. Terrapinzflyer
    Johnson launches 'legal highs' warning

    The home secretary has today launched a new campaign warning of the dangers of so-called 'legal high' drugs.
    The campaign, which will include advertising in clubs, on student websites and in music magazines such as MixMag, will seek to highlight the dangers of the substances, which have claimed the lives of at least four people in the last 18 months.
    Speaking today about the launch of the campaign, Alan Johnson said: "There is sometimes a misconception that because a substance is legal it is safe to consume, that is not the case, they are dangerous chemicals.

    "Through this campaign we want to educate young people who might be tempted to experiment with 'legal highs' that they don't know what they are taking and these substance can have devastating effects, particularly when mixed with alcohol."
    Drugs such as the chemical solvent GBL (gamma-butyrolactone), synthetic cannabinoids (man-made chemicals sprayed on herbal smoking products such as 'Spice') and BZP (a synthetic stimulant) have seen soaring popularity among students and clubbers in recent years.

    These so-called 'legal high' drugs are soon to become illegal and will be reclassified as class C drugs by the end of the year.
    The ban comes after recommendations from the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which found the substances to have unpredictable effects on health, earlier this month.
    However, the mother of a 21-year-old woman who died after taking GBL has criticised the campaign for being "wholly inadequate".

    Maryon Stewart said her daughter Hester "would still be with us" if tougher legislation was brought in.
    "I don't feel that the campaign is strong enough. It is too short and too narrow and I don't think it is targeting enough people," she said.

    Meanwhile drug reform activists have derided the decision to ban the drugs as further evidence of government ineptitude.
    Steve Rolles of Transform told "This is a myopic, short-term, knee-jerk reaction.
    "These things are undoubtedly harmful, but it would be better to regulate them."

    A further 24 anabolic steroids - testosterone-like products often used by sports people and increasingly being used by the general public to enhance physique and strength - and two growth promoters will also be added to the list of steroids already controlled as class C drugs.

    Monday, 21, Sep 2009 12:00
    By Liz Stephens$1328642.htm
  8. One Eyed
    Shit, four lives in 18 months? I wonder what fraction that is of the people who have either died through alcohol abuse or had their relationships destroyed by a family member/partner from it. Those statistics are shocking!
  9. Sven99
    The really ironic thing is, at the moment, these products are at least being produced legally. Once the ban comes in, they really will be produced by the crazy chemists of the black market. And all FRANK's scary warnings will be even more appropriate.
  10. One Eyed
    Exactly right; I know it's not a new theory but if the government legalised and regulated at least some substances then the amount of drug/gang related crime or murders would surely drop. Adding more drugs to the list will only generate more revenue for the dealers. And people who liked using the legal highs will now need to turn to dealers if they want to continue ---> having to use a dealer will in turn probably mean they will get something stronger, they might as well, I mean why spend your money on the weaker, currently legal ecstasy (never tried them myself so dunno if they're mostly placebo anyway) when you can get proper MDMA from the same dealer and are breaking the same laws.

    How come so many people can see it but the government can't?!
  11. corvardus
    SWIM can see it from both sides. Yes, a few intelligent people would actually research what they are taking and make a decision to indulge. However some idiot governmental minion can do same get it analysed and then ban it.

    Banned product = No profit, that is the bottom line and these companies are companies. They want to make money. That is their purpose. They have no responsibilities for duty of care because they are not selling a medical product. They have no responsibility for the damage it causes because they label the product "not for human consumption". The responsibility for consumption and any consequences pursuant to that is entirely on the individuals' shoulders.

    If that BBC3 documentary has any value at all it is to demonstrate that a large number of the younger generation don't really care what is in the product and if they did they probably wouldn't know what to do with that information. Their philosophy is..."if it gets me high, it's OK".

    The political and regulatory environment is not conducive for a free flow of information from the manufacturers and as such the user will lose out. Caveat emptor and all that. Ultimately compassion is bad for business and the governmental policy is to blame for this.

    SWIM was thinking that. Its a vicious circle and SWIM is observing the legals are getting ever more dangerous. SWIM hearing of people taking Datura or perhaps Digitalis in order to get high. The government is training yet another generation of individuals to break the law.

    On occasions it is safer to take the illegal substances, at least the hospitals know exactly what to do if the worst comes, with some of the legals it is simply a guessing game and hope for the best.

    Why the political establishment does not recognise that drugs are like a rite-of-passage and will be sought out no matter what environment you provide is a mystery to SWIM. If SWIM was in political influence SWIM would immediately get the A, B, C classification into proper scientific order without any political influence and then move from a solid foundation.
  12. corvardus
    This is precisely why SWIM don't think the legals will follow suit into the black market. If the high becomes illegal then you might as well get the best stuff rather than some cheap immitation.

    To illustrate a friend of a friend of the goddess Nut informed SWIM that they had a bunch of BZP pills. When the individual in question took some proper shit the vast difference between the legals and the illegals were stark and obvious. Now they are stuck with a bunch of pills they are likely to be flushing down the loo before new years.

    SWIM was wondering what the environemental impact of BZP would be on the fish! ;)
  13. One Eyed
    Lol about the fish! But yeah, that's what I meant, no one will need the substitutes so what will happen is that the law abiding folk who buy the legal highs will either stop all together or go out and buy some illegals... my bet is that the majority will go out and get the illegals.

    Some laws are there to protect us, granted, i.e. no murder, rape etc. But outlawing plants that grow on our planet? It's a deprivation of our freedom! Man made substances can't be fully supported with the same argument but I still can't get past the fact that alcohol and tobacco is sold so openly whilst the banning of these legal highs is being discussed so prominently.

    Has it been made clear exactly what will be made illegal?
  14. Terrapinzflyer
    Don’t talk to*Frank

    The bars of West*min*ster are lined with politi*cians slurp*ing their way through bottles of fine claret and the pub trade in the area does very well. As they poison their liv*ers, they’re all too happy to use the up-surging bile in their anti-drugs tirades. Yet, alco*hol causes on aver*age 15,000 deaths per year, whilst Ecstasy causes just 30. Should we stop listen*ing to the politi*cians’ anti-drug advice?

    Danny Kush*lick, of drugs policy think tank Trans*form Drugs Policy Found*a*tion, believes many politi*cians are secretly against their pub*licly fan*fared war on drugs: “Most politi*cians, off the record, would agree that the war on drugs is over*whelm*ingly coun*ter*pro*duct*ive and that a sys*tem of reg*u*la*tion would help things no*end.”

    It’s easy for polit*ical expedi*ence to trum*pet anti-drugs rhet*oric, even if the evid*ence points towards the oppos*ite con*clu*sion. But, there’s a deeper level to pro*hib*i*tion. A whole industry has been built off the back of the crim*in*al*isa*tion of drugs, as Kush*lick points out:

    “We’ve had 50 years of a polit*ical rhet*oric com*bined with a fin*an*cial and polit*ical resourcing of pro*hib*i*tion*ist empires; from prison build*ing to the drug enforce*ment agency, police, intel*li*gence ser*vices, secur*ity ser*vices, and a lot of polit*ical cap*itol built on*that.”

    There’s a heavy reli*ance on the status quo, with any move away spite*fully cri*ti*cised as being “soft on drugs”, or sur*ren*der*ing to organ*ised crime. So why would any pro*fes*sional politi*cian jeop*ard*ise their career?

    “It provides what appears to be a very, very strong pos*i*tion for politi*cians, because it’s built on 50 years of pro*pa*ganda, which is very dif*fi*cult to turn around. *While all the evid*ence shows that this is one of the stu*pid*est things on earth to be doing, that can’t pos*sibly engage with pro*pa*ganda. This is because pro*pa*ganda doesn’t deal with evid*ence, it deals with its own internal self-referential truth. It isn’t amen*able to evid*ence, it’s only amen*able to more bullshit.”

    Kush*lick points out that the approach to alco*hol and tobacco is com*pletely dif*fer*ent to that of illegal drugs, but that we “have around 8 mil*lion tobacco addicts, and between 2 and 4 mil*lion chronic drinkers”.
    “The prob*lem with*ini*ti*at*ives like Talk to Frank is they are built on a drug policy*frame*work that is*hypo*crit*ical to the end.” Mean*while, he says, things like can*nabis is trated as a “scourge”. Those two mes*sages, he says, “don’t stack*up”.

    The skewed sig*nals being given out by Frank can be seen on its web*site. The organ*isa*tion states about alco*hol: “For most people, if you drink within the sens*ible lim*its for reg*u*lar drink*ing, that’s OK.”

    How*ever, its mes*sage about illegal sub*stances, many of which are less harm*ful accord*ing to sci*ent*ists, is one of risk and dire con*sequence, even in mod*er*a*tion. Are most young drug users act*ing irresponsibly?
    “If you look at the rates of use amongst young people…the vast major*ity use them rel*at*ively safely…the sig*ni*fic*ant prob*lems with use of drugs are related to alco*hol and tobacco – but that’s not what most people will think of amongst the gen*eral pub*lic. If you ask them what the most dan*ger*ous drug they know of, a lot will say pills are. This is because of all the pro*pa*ganda built up around Leah Betts. Clearly there are risks asso*ci*ated with it, but these are rel*at*ively min*imal com*pared with those asso*ci*ated with the abuse of alcohol.”

    A big risk, caused by crim*in*al*isa*tion, is you can’t tell the pur*ity of a sub*stance you may take. Indeed, hor*ror stor*ies have emerged about drugs being cut with poison.

    How*ever, the UK’s lead*ing centre for inform*a*tion and expert*ise on drugs Drug*Scope said: “The idea that drugs such as heroin are com*monly adul*ter*ated with dan*ger*ous sub*stances such as scour*ing powders, rat poison, ground glass, brick-dust etc has no found*a*tion in forensic evidence.

    “Anec*dotal evid*ence from drug work*ers, drug users, the police, and the politi*cians means that reports of adul*ter*a*tion are com*mon but its exist*ence is unproven. There are many reas*ons why drug deal*ers would not want to cut the drugs they sell with dan*ger*ous substances.”

    The Advis*ory Coun*cil on the Mis*use of Drugs (ACMD) is an inde*pend*ent body of experts who advise the gov*ern*ment on drug related issues in the UK. *How*ever, the gov*ern*ment often goes against the advice of the ACMD, with the most recent example being the reclas*si*fic*a*tion of can*nabis from class C to B, which the ACMD opposed. The Coun*cil have also stated that the cur*rent clas*si*fic*a*tion sys*tem “is not fit for pur*pose”. *In a new sys*tem they pro*posed, alco*hol ranked as more harm*ful than ecstasy, LSD and cannabis.

    BY SHANE CROUCHER | PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2009’t-talk-to-frank/
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