Mephedrone and other ‘legal highs’ should be banned
The government has announced that it will ban mephedrone after receiving advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and will designate it a class B drug. The drug has been linked with up to 25 deaths but has never been confirmed as the cause. Criminalising will obviously lead to the market going underground and the government may have difficulty legislating in the two weeks before parliament is likely to close.
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'Legal highs' pose a health risk
Following high-profile media coverage, it is clear that so-called 'legal highs' are not legal because someone has deemed them to be safe - rather, they are dangerous substances that simply aren't covered by previous legislation. The risk to people taking them of serious illness, or, at worst, death, is one the government has a duty to mitigate by criminalising the supply of such substances.
There are many, many substances that are dangerous to human health. Take, for instance, both alcohol and tabacco - both with proven links to several types of cancer, not to mention other health problems. Clearly, the argument that dangerous substances need to be controlled because of health risks is a fallacious one.
The only argument for banning 'legal highs' and not alcohol/tobacco is that the latter bring in millions in revenue for the Treasury. Why not bring in other substances to the fold?
Large amount of anecdotal evidence to show harmful impact to society
Across the UK there have been large amounts of families complaining about the impact of the drug on their sons or daughters. This has been shown by parents calling into local newspapers or contacting the national media. Given the repeated demonstrations of the harm and impact of legal highs on people both directly and indirectly isn't that clear evidence that this drug should be banned.
Anecdotal evidence is nothing without concrete evidence to back it up otherwise we'd have decisions like Autism is a form of mercury poisoning. In the cases of deaths that have been linked to mephedrone there have also been other drugs involved so there is the possibility of deaths being caused because of a combination of other drugs not just one.
Already banned in other countries
Methedrone is already banned in certain countries such as Sweden where a person died in 2009 because of taking the drug as well as in Denmark and Israel . Given that these countries have banned drug the UK would be following an established precedent. Furthermore in banning the drug Britain could be doing those countries a favour by denying dealers a legal place in which to manufacture the drug. [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/dec/05/mephedrone-problem-legal-highs]]
Combination of proven side effects and unproven risk= something worth banning
The University of Sussex Student's Union cites Methedrone as having a number of nasty short term side effects including but not only: increased potentially irregular heart beat, "paranoia, fits and delusions," and possible blood circulation problems. [[University of Sussex Student's Union "Mephedrone "Meow" Information http://ussu.info/files/UNISEXMephedrone.pdf Accessed 2.4.2010]] Added to that it also notes that Mephedrone has never been tested on humans.[[University of Sussex Student's Union "Mephedrone "Meow" Information http://ussu.info/files/UNISEXMephedrone.pdf Accessed 2.4.2010]] Given that the side effects listed are potentially nasty and in the case of the mental ones could impair a person's judgement as well as the unproven risk potential isn't this combination justification for a ban, regardless of deaths or not?.
Banning Mephedrone won't stop the race to develop legal highs
Just as banning cocaine or heroin didn't stop people from developing different kinds of legal drugs such as Mephedrone, this ban won't stop people from looking for other ways to get their fix. Already drug companies are looking in China to develop drugs that will not initially attract the attention of the law.[[ Williams Holly "Legal Highs Flooding Market From China" Sky News http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/video/Legal-Highs-Flooding-Market-From-China/Video/201003415586781?lid=V%5D%5D This means that the whole cat and mouse chase will go on with whatever drug is created.
Then maybe those drug "companies" will actually develop something that is actually not harmful to people whether they use it directly or indirectly. If a drug is involved in the death of a person then the government has a duty to intervene.
Also maybe the companies developing these drugs will go out of business as they could do either one of two things. Firstly cross the line into dealing illegal drugs and open themselves up to the possibility of being arrested and sent to prison etc. Alternatively they could go out of business through spending too much money on research and development with not enough money coming into them.
There are alternatives to prohibition
There are different alternatives to banning drugs like mephedrone. For example providing information on the side effects and setting regulations will give the people the ability to make informed choices the same way that we deal with smoking and alcohol. It will also allow the supply to be controlled making it easier to scrutinise who is supplying the drugs and avoiding criminals taking control.
Prohibition opens up a new front in a ineffective and counterproductive war on drugs
What this new crusade will do is expand increasingly counterproductive war on drugs something which has already caused problems in places across the world such as Afghanistan and Latin America. This is because one less legal pathway that could be used by legitimate businesses is one more that can be used by Cartels. This fuels instability within certain countries such as Mexico where rival mafia's have been involved in. Oh and need anyone mention Colombia
It is better to sell them through official suppliers
Making these drugs will not prevent everyone from using them. However, in making them unavailable through official suppliers the drugs are more likely to be cut or mixed with other substances, and the likelihood of sufficient testing will decrease, thus increasing the dangerous potential of these drugs.
What do you think?