By Alfa · Sep 28, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    A Birmingham university is producing a booklet telling students how to
    safely take illegal drugs such as cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy.

    The Aston University publication will explain what drugs can be taken
    together without causing dangerous side-effects, as well as giving guidance
    on how to go about obtaining "properly supplied" substances.

    The university said the guide was designed to promote the welfare of its
    6,000 students but critics said it appeared to " legitimise" drug abuse.

    Dr Matthew Nye, the university's principal physician, said the booklet was
    in response to a students' poll in which they were asked what kind of drug
    information they would most benefit from.

    "With the majority of students at the moment the information they obtain is
    from friends," he said.

    "So we want to provide more credible information for them and more specific
    information they want to know.

    "What they particularly want to know is information about how drugs
    interact - for example, can you take ecstasy with marijuana?

    "They ask how these drugs will interact with normal medication. For
    example, if they take the contraceptive pill or antibiotics, can they take

    "We are going to look to provide information in a booklet."

    The pamphlet is currently being researched and Dr Nye added: "There are a
    lot of young people fed up of being told 'don't take drugs'. We want to
    give them the real information without exaggerating."

    But Birmingham councillor Deirdre Alden (Con Edgbaston), whose ward
    contains the highest proportion of students in the city, described the move
    as alarming.

    "The danger is students start thinking that official people are telling
    them that it is all right. I don't like that at all. It is very
    frightening. It would be better to send out the message that it is wrong.

    "Drugs can wreck people's lives and I am sorry to hear they are doing this."

    West Midlands Police also expressed concern. A spokeswoman said: "We
    wouldn't condone anything that encourages or promotes illegal drug taking."

    Other universities in the region said it was not their policy to advise
    students how to take illegal drugs.

    However, Action on Addiction, a charity set up to prevent drug, alcohol and
    nicotine abuse, welcomed Aston's stance.

    Its chief executive Lesley King-Lewis, said: "Where people are using
    illegal substances we would support initiatives that aim to reduce the
    associated harm.

    "We ar
    e pleased to see that Aston University is researching the best ways
    to tackle drug use within the student population, and hope that this
    leaflet will address drug taking in a serious and responsible way."

    She added: "Once the leaflet has been released we would hope that the
    university would evaluate its impact."

    Earlier this year Coventry City Council was criticised for its part in
    producing a leaflet telling drug users how to avoid the law.

    The Safe2Dance handbook, produced by the Coventry Community Safety
    Partnership - which includes the city council, police and health authority
    - advocated snorting cocaine from ceramic surfaces to avoid leaving evidence.

    All 5,000 leaflets were scrapped, wasting UKP 10,000 of public money, after
    they were accused of encouraging criminal activity.

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