OXFORD DON SPEAKS OUT ON DRUG CLASSIFICATION
A prominent Oxford Professor of Physiology has criticized the government's classification of illegal drugs. The Head of the Medical Research Council, Dr Colin Blakemore, told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that he saw the inclusion of LSD, magic mushrooms and ecstasy in the Class A category as illogical.
Blakemore, who was called in to advise the committee's ongoing investigation into drug classification, said, "Not all the evidence was taken into account in the original classifications and subsequent evidence has not been well incorporated." A spokesperson from the independent drug advisory group Drugscope said, "I don't think anyone would argue that there are not serious anomalies in the classification system.
However, the ongoing debate over cannabis shows that any government which tries to change the law to reclassify ecstasy to a lower class will have to face a great media outcry because of the message that this would appear to send out to the public." Blakemore told The Oxford Student, "I do not think that the scientific evidence justified the classification of hallucinogens and ecstasy as class A drugs ( and Professor John Strang agreed ).
However, this certainly doesn't imply that I would encourage any student, or anyone else, to experiment with these drugs. There is no such thing as a drug without risk." Matt Sellwood, Green Party candidate for the Holywell Ward at this week's local elections, told the supported Blakemore's comments. He said, "The Green Party agrees that the current classification of drugs is arbitrary and needs to be reexamined.
The fact that hallucinogens which are used in medical research are classified as equal to heroin is ridiculous." Unprocessed psychedelic mushrooms were recently reclassified as Class A substances. Evidence that LSD is responsible for genetic mutations and foetal abnormalities have been overturned by detailed research into its chromosomal effects. The effects of ecstasy use remain a highly-debated topic.
A recent study of extreme abuse, profiling a subject who consumed 40,000 pills in nine years, found evidence of severe physical and mental health side-effects, including extreme memory problems, paranoia, hallucinations and depression. Dr Trevor Sharp, Reader in Pharmacology, said, "Professor Blakemore is the head of the Medical Research Council so he's not going to stick his head above the parapet without good advice."