Forums The Vibe Chat Should the drug classification system be scrapped? full story here :-)

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  • #1040847
    Digital-A
    Participant

    Scientists want new drug rankings

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6474053.stm

    Quote:
    _42345026_ecstasy_pa203.jpg

    Ecstasy use is widespread

    The drug classification system in the UK is not “fit for purpose” and should be scrapped, scientists have said.

    They have drawn up an alternative system which they argue more accurately reflects the harm that drugs do.

    The new ranking system places alcohol and tobacco in the upper half of the league table, ahead of cannabis and several Class A drugs such as ecstasy.

    The study, published in The Lancet, has been welcomed by a team reviewing drug research for the government.

    The Academy of Medical Sciences group plans to put its recommendations to ministers in the autumn.

    A new commission is also due to undertake a three-year review of general government drug policy.

    The new system has been developed by a team led by Professor David Nutt, from the University of Bristol, and Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council.
    It assesses drugs on the harm they do to the individual, to society and whether or not they induce dependence.

    A panel of experts were asked to rate 20 different drugs on nine individual categories, which were combined to produce an overall estimate of harm.

    In order to provide familiar benchmarks, five legal drugs, including tobacco and alcohol were included in the assessment. Alcohol was rated the fifth most dangerous substance, and tobacco ninth.

    Heroin was rated as the most dangerous drug, followed by cocaine and barbiturates. Ecstasy, however, rated only 18th, while cannabis was 11th.

    Arbitrary ranking
    o.gifCURRENT DRUG CLASSIFICATION

    Class A
    Cocaine/crack
    Heroin
    Ecstasy
    LSD
    Magic mushrooms
    Crystal meth (pending)

    Class A/B
    Amphetamines

    Class C
    Cannabis
    Ketamine

    inline_dashed_line.gif

    The researchers said the current ABC system was too arbitrary, and failed to give specific information about the relative risks of each drug.

    It also gave too much importance to unusual reactions, which would only affect a tiny number of users.

    Professor Nutt said people were not deterred by scare messages, which simply served to undermine trust in warnings about the danger of drugs.

    He said: “The current system is not fit for purpose. Let’s treat people as adults. We should have a much more considered debate how we deal with dangerous drugs.”

    He highlighted the fact that one person a week in the UK dies from alcohol poisoning, while less than 10 deaths a year are linked to ecstasy use.

    Professor Blakemore said it was clear that current drugs’ policies were not working.

    “We face a huge problem. Illegal substances have never been more easily available, or more widely abused.”

    He said the beauty of the new system, unlike the current version, was that it could easily be updated to reflect new research.

    Professor Leslie Iversen, a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences group considering drug policy, said the new system was a “landmark paper”.

    He said: “It is a real step towards evidence-based classification of drugs.”

    Professor Iversen said the fact that 500,000 young people routinely took ecstasy every weekend proved that current drug policy was in need of reform.

    Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: “We have no intention of reviewing the drug classification system.

    “Our priority is harm reduction and to achieve this we focus on enforcement, education and treatment.”

    He said there had been “unparalleled investment” of £7.5 billion since 1998, which had contributed to a 21% reduction in overall drug misuse in the last nine years and a fall of 20% in drug related crime since 2004.

    But he added: “The government is not complacent and will continue to work with all of our partners to build on this progress.”

    MOST HARMFUL DRUGS

    _42710037_graphic.gif

    GLOSSARY

    Benzodiazepines: Wide-ranging class of prescription tranquilisers
    Buprenorphine: Opioid drug used in treatment of opiate addiction
    4-MTA: Amphetamine derivative sold as ‘flatliners’ and ecstasy
    Methylphenidate: Amphetamine-like drug used to treat ADHD
    Alkyl nitrites: Stimulant often called amyl nitrites or ‘poppers’

    #1101735
    starlaugh
    Participant

    posted at the same time mate! :weee:

    #1101728
    General Lighting
    Moderator

    apologies if you both have multiple “thread moved” messages from me (the software automatically sends these!), I moved both threads into “Drugs” but forgot Starlaugh is behind a selective filter at work.

    I’m sure I’ve seen this report mentioned before some time last year with a similar graph (the findings of which I would agree with).

    Unfortunately I doubt the Govt is going to accept any lessening of anti-drugs controls; TBH it cannot really do so until its debated at UN level (its actually he UN who declared recreational drugs use unacceptable about 60 years ago)

    The reason for this isn’t so much the power of UN (after all we went to war without UN acceptance) but that Britain doesn’t have as much world clout as it once did and we are dependent on inward investment from the USA and Asian countries with govts that bitterly disagree with recreational drug use.

    #1101736
    starlaugh
    Participant

    Nope its cool GL, if you move it into the Drugs thread if someone would be kind enough to PM me a link i can still view it! (work filter for some reason will let me view the post if it is through a link:you_crazy )

    I have started to read the full article now and i reallly think they should be sensible and rate our drugs like this. I still dont really understand how our current drug system works (as in how they clasify the drugs) but i can make sense of this one.

    Its quite funny as i work with a lot of mums here and this article has become the topic of conversation, majority are saying how irresponsible it is to publish something like this as it will make people think Acid & E’s are safe, as they have been classed on this scale lower.

    #1101739
    Playground Politics
    Participant

    i wouldnt mind some going down the old class system and it to be more accurate. But at the end of the day, it wont stop ppl taking the drugs and it wont make ppl think oo dear its a class a, they will take it anyway and not think anything of the consequences to health, and if they get caught. i think alot of them should be declassified! tho

    peace

    #1101729
    General Lighting
    Moderator
    starlaugh wrote:
    i reallly think they should be sensible and rate our drugs like this. I still dont really understand how our current drug system works (as in how they clasify the drugs)

    I think it was done on economic harm rather than health risks. Dead people do not take up as many NHS resources as addicts who are alive but physically and mentally unwell.

    However demand for drugs and acceptance of drug culture in British society has gone up so much the present system is unworkable.

    Drugs are illegal but so many people are taking the risks so the penalties for small posession are virtually the same across all substance classes (caution in most cases, a fine if people are very unlucky and keep getting caught, even sentences for dealing are about the same as the prisons are already full!)

    So for instance although govt clearly don’t like the new ketamine culture they can’t make it any more than class C as if they did so people would think “might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb” and go back to amfet and pills… (I think many already are as too much K isn’t that much fun..)

    #1101737
    starlaugh
    Participant
    General Lighting wrote:
    I think it was done on economic harm rather than health risks. Dead people do not take up as many NHS resources as addicts who are alive but physically and mentally unwell.

    Ah ok cheers GL makes a bit more sense to me now…

    Quote:
    Drugs are illegal but so many people are taking the risks so the penalties for small posession are virtually the same across all substance classes (caution in most cases, a fine if people are very unlucky and keep getting caught, even sentences for dealing are about the same as the prisons are already full!).

    Yeah i have been caught in posession of class A’s a couple of times and not even had a caution. Not in posession of much mind but an amount that is a normal nights out worth for me.

    Quote:
    However demand for drugs and acceptance of drug culture in British society has gone up so much the present system is unworkable.

    I couldn’t see how it worked anyway, they wont ever admit defeat but i don’t get why they cannot put in a bit of harm reduction. As there are a number of us who are going to do it no matter what they do to try and stop it, wouldn’t the whole harm reducion thing save them money?

    #1101730
    General Lighting
    Moderator
    starlaugh wrote:
    I couldn’t see how it worked anyway, they wont ever admit defeat but i don’t get why they cannot put in a bit of harm reduction. As there are a number of us who are going to do it no matter what they do to try and stop it, wouldn’t the whole harm reducion thing save them money?

    perhaps it would if there wasn’t such a binge culture in this country.

    going back to 1997-2001 British drugs policy was a bit more liberal and geared more towards harm reduction – but there was an co-incident increase in demand and a drop in prices (it was around then everyone started doing pills and powder like sweeties as they became so cheap).

    without market forces (prices and lack of cash) to regulate people they started caning everything and the health services ended up picking up the pieces… the big one was people starting to use heroin as a “come-down” drug :yakk: – that created loads more addicts (I would say a third of my old raver mates from the 90s went down this route).

    This was viewed as a justification for the nanny state to get tough again…

    #1101727
    Anonymous

    Man, the current drug classification should definitely be scrapped. Though one should be very careful going about it as not to give off the wrong impression, though Alcohol is more dangerous than say E, it doesn’t mean popping 10 E’s on the weekend, is better than going out on the piss. E’s can have some serious Psychological effects, as anyone who has done that many may have experienced.

    But how do you go about telling people “alcohol is worse than acid, but you are not allowed to take acid, but have a bear”. This would mean the law would have to change to reflect the you classification. A sudden legalization of everything under say for example tobacco under the ‘danger scale’ would mean pharmaceutical companies probable competing for the market, as with all products and wanting people buy as much as possible for the money and targeting youth (think of tobacco companies and drinks companies nowadays!), though tax of these products could be channeled to more useful sources than prison (for those arrested for possession) e.g. schooling health, the sale of substances would still have to be tightly regulated, but how exactly?

    Anyway I may have gone a little of track and branched off slightly, but I hope I’ve raised at least raised a couple of good questions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
    TB

    #1101731
    General Lighting
    Moderator

    IMO one possible solution would be for the EU to decriminalize drugs, allow controlled imports with tax being collected and ringfenced for each country’s public healthcare system (with perhaps a percentage shared across all 25 nations for drug education purposes)

    if all EU nations did it on the same day there wouldn’t be a massive problem with drug tourism…

    At the same time there should be education that discourages people from starting until age 18, and a doubling all the penalties for violent crime and driving under the influence (there should be more space in prison if less people are going in for minor drug dealing offences)….

    The law should also be changed so that that if someone does do a violent crime or theft or drive under the influence, they get the same penalties as if the drugs were still illegal, so it sends a clear signal out to citizens that if tey wish to take drugs they must behave in such a way that does not harm others.

    The only snag I can see is that Washington and some Eastern countries would go absolutely apeshit if this actually did happen, and would (by trade sanctions) probably try to destabilise the economy to the point where a populist right-wing government seized power in at least one European country in the resulting backlash…

    #1101734
    Anonymous

    i think its ridiculous that the government wont even fund proper research into drugs. any decent debate starts with teh defining of terms. if we dont know what drugs actually do then we cant have a debate on it. which is exactly what teh government wants.

    the current system is totally random and means nothign and is based on nothing so why do we have it and why does the government refuse to even look at what drugs do, when they seem perfectly happy to go on abotu how bad they are!

    the whole thing is ridiculous, and while its tempting to blame binge culture for everythign wrong with society, i would say teh reason that drugs are being demonised is because of a shift in society to the rightwing, which has been catalysed by war and promoted by the government and its clampdown on civil liberties. freedom is no longer seen as important as security so our freedom to do drugs is an obvious casualty.

    the independant ran an anti-weed issue a week or two back, packed full of bullshit, speculation and misinformation. that a supposedly liberal paper thinks that this is a good way of getting readers is an indictment of our society.

    #1101740
    tarifa
    Participant

    Prof Nutt said people were not deterred by scare messages, which simply serve to undermine trust in warnings about the danger of drugs ‘the current system is not fit for purpose. Let’s treat people as adults’

    Does this man get much space in the papers? 3 guesses.

    As long as the majority believe that drugs are evil those who can speak in a logical and informed way will just be dismissed, that’s why there isn’t a decent debate.

    If the government treats drug users as adults it will entail an admission that we’re not all brainless wankers which will open a whole mess of worms which they are not prepared to deal with.

    We all know people who assume that if you’ve taken/r taking drugs ur simply a moron. Its easier to believe in what ur being spoonfed than it is to think outside the box and question.

    I like his point re deaths from alcohol but that just begs the question of how to deal with drugs of any sort. Prohibition doesn’t work so whats the answer . . . my vote goes for education and honesty, and more of this sort of research and reporting.

    #1101738
    starlaugh
    Participant

    Well i have taken a lot of orders for this article since it was published the other week, everyone in the office has been suprised almost every other phone call was to buy a copy of the article! ( alot more calls than we normally get for an article)

    Ao a lot of people have been very interested! 😉

    :wave:

    #1101732
    General Lighting
    Moderator

    The situation with regard to the lack of real debate is actually worse than USE mentioned.

    Since the 90s, particularly in the wake of the rise in rave culture – successive governments of supposedly different political persuasions have funded lots of studies into drug use with our tax money (proper scientific studies carried out by Universities with good academic track records) –

    Even the ISDD (precursors to Talk to Frank) which was far more traditional and formalised was producing reports making it clear the harm from recreational drug use was less than feared and could be lessened.

    All these “liberal” reports were ignored by successive ministers because they didn’t show what those in power wanted to hear. (you can still find them on the govt websites, but buried away in odd corners). The last 3 govts have refused to debate the issue as they don’t want to look “soft” in the world stage. I suspect this isn’t confined only to England either; even the “liberal” European countries have suffered a backlash due to experiments at decriminalisation that haven’t shown short-term gains.

    I think the bigger problem across Europe is that there is still a consensus that drug use is morally wrong – however flawed and ill informed peoples views may be. This may actually even still be a remenant from the medieval clampdowns on pleasure seeking and Puritanism of the 1600s, which still shapes a lot of our lifestyles even today..

    Incidentally I think this must be a debate for Europe and not just Britain or a single EU country – when EU nations decriminalise unilaterally (as some have done) it leads to drug tourism and migration which causes a local backlash, so the whole EU would have to do it at once (would make a backlash from sanctions harder).

    Also if China (which is surprisingly lenient with regard to recreational drug use for an Asian country) were to support decrminalisation that would be a big turning point, although the memories of the Opium Wars are still fresh in peoples minds in the East…

    #1101741
    tarifa
    Participant

    I think this thread links in well with the Guardian article too

    #1101733
    General Lighting
    Moderator

    another thing that comes to mind is that the classifications could not withstand the surge of drug culture and usage that occured in Britain during the 1980s.

    There is nothing the British authorities (or any other European nation) can do in the way of extra enforcement without overly slowing down the free movement of people and goods essential to our modern consumer society – and searches are already are stringent due to terrorism scares.

    Drugs culture is entrenched in society now – and for instance the law can’t make ketamine any harsher a class as it would mean dealers who see it as easy money and lesser may be just as likely to sell other substances as to give up. The authorities are now actually backed into a corner – albeit still fighting…

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Forums The Vibe Chat Should the drug classification system be scrapped? full story here :-)