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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    The new drugs taking mephedrone's place
    More risky alternatives have sprung up in wake of the ban, showing that education is a better way to deal with drug use

    In the pre-election ferment, one of the last actions of the outgoing government was to ban the "legal high" drug, mephedrone. This occurred in a climate of rabid press calls for regulation partly fuelled by the deaths of two young men supposed to have taken the drug. It now turns out that this evidence was incorrect and they had not taken mephedrone. Nevertheless, given the febrile atmosphere, the ban may have given some people the comfortable feeling that a situation was under control. At the time there was speculation that other "legal highs" were waiting in the wings to replace mephedrone. It is perhaps too soon to know what effect the mephedrone ban has had, but there are signs.

    For example, in the window of a prominent alternative cafe in the town where I live there is a neat handwritten notice entitled "2-DPMP (desoxypipradrol)". The notice warns strongly against taking this drug as it causes profound hallucinations and has led to the hospitalisation of several local users. It seems that the drug has come in from Holland and is being used as a "mephedrone substitute". Desoxypipradrol is a highly potent stimulant drug with actions related to those of methylphenidate (Ritalin), but unlike other stimulant drugs it stays in the body for a long time. This makes it very difficult to judge the dose to take and overdosing may lead to hallucinations and prolonged insomnia. There are alarming reports on the internet of the experiences people have had with this drug.

    This is only a snapshot of what may be occurring with stimulant drug use following the mephedrone ban. It does, however, highlight some issues about drug policy in the UK that are not being addressed by these simple bans.

    Banning drugs such as mephedrone may give the illusion of control, but the cheapness of synthesis in the Far East coupled with internet supply has changed drug availability forever. New drugs will become available as others are banned. The banned drugs may still be available. Because of a lack of regulation, we cannot be certain of the purity of the drugs supplied in this way, so that users may be consuming unknown mixtures of chemicals.

    These new substances have often not been tested for toxic effects, such as neurotoxicity, carcinogenicity or birth defects. We also have only a rudimentary idea of how the new drugs work and no idea how they affect the brains of young people after prolonged use. These substances are not going to disappear, so we need to obtain this information. A good solution here would be for the government to set up research programmes to study these new drugs. The research programmes should aim to understand how the drugs work as well as establishing their possible long-term effects.

    Despite the potential dangers, people clearly want to take drugs to change their mood and perception. We must try to understand this need and manage the situation – by putting in place public education programmes to make people aware of the risks they run when they take these drugs.

    Philip Strange
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 2 June 2010 10.00 BST



  1. KingMe

    swim finds this most disturbing. so it says in effect that a need people have, and is widely recognized, should be adressed by managing the situation.... by creating fear of them? instead of controlling them, giving the people the choice they want to make if and how to take drugs that have been properly tested and controled for quality?

    legalization will not happen in swims lifetime :(
  2. Lish_Bomb
    Swim reckons the whole thing's a shambles.. Of course these substances will always be here, and people will always take them. When are the people at the top going to realise that prohibition simply temporarily "hides" the problem ~ takes it out of people's worries for 10 minutes, and then the overpriced, cut to buggery substances appear, only this time they carry ridiculous sentences and fines with them that will only criminalise more people, and put more people in debt...
    They've tried prohibition time and time again, for years and years; and has the problem gone away? Of course not. When are they going to consider taking a different approach?!
  3. Lish_Bomb
    If these drugs were regulated, evidence suggests that the danger of them would dramatically decrease. Huge amounts of money could be made on tax and invested into research and services to keep recreational drugs safe, and also help users avoid a destructive cycle of addiction. Not to mention the fact that drug crime would minimise considerably. Drugs are fun, people will take them, this fact needs to be tackled head on, with a brand new (but forever "talked about") approach..
  4. Piglet
    Desoxypipradrol? That's like... years old, isn't it?
  5. Friedbeefwithnoodle
    What does it do? Sounds like something my nan would take.
  6. godztear
    Damn, this guy sounds like someone who might have been posting on this very forum. Research and education are key elements in studying new compounds. It is unfortunate that the creators of such substances do not care to share for themselves to the world.
  7. corvardus
    This is encouraging move where journalism is concerned despite the conclusion that was reached. Understand the need and you'll understand how humans operate. Education is necessary, yes, but legal and safer alternatives need to be offered for recreational purposes if real management is to be achieved.

    If the government takes anything from the phenomena of legal highs it is that the desire of the population to take substances free from prosecution is preferred to illegal and unknown (as in purity) drugs.

    If the government realises this and offers research money into even safer alternatives to things like MDMA it is highly likely that they would solve the problems associated with drugs and the benefits of prohibition (to the criminals) in short order.
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