Leading article: Mephedrone madness

Sunday 23 October 2011 09:03
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The government's drugs policy, such as it was, is in tatters, following the seventh resignation from the Advisory Council since Professor David Nutt's dismissal last year.

While Eric Carlin, like Dr Polly Taylor before him, cited disagreement with the ban on mephedrone, the underlying issue in all the resignations has been the same: a clash between the instinct of ministers to reclassify and ban, and the advisers' frustration that they, the experts, are ignored.

Following the summary way in which the mephedrone ban was enacted, it is hard to dissent from Mr Carlin's view that it was "unduly based on media and political pressure". Had ministers thought beyond immediate politics, they might have concluded that a ban would be counterproductive in every way, creating a new black market, raising the profit for dealers and heightening the thrill of risk for users. Patently, they did not think – which is why a small problem could now get much worse before it gets better.

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