It was no great surprise to Grumble when he learned earlier this week that the two young men who died, apparently after taking mephedrone, had not actually taken mephedrone at all. It was clear at the time that the evidence that mephedrone had caused their deaths was just not there. Now there is no doubt whatsoever that mephedrone could not even have been involved.
Armed with this information, Dr Grumble was all set to point out what had led to the extraordinarily precipitous banning of mephedrone. He would have said something like:
1. That the police should not make pronouncements and certainly not hold press conferences on mere conjecture.
2. The media should wait for evidence and allow the scientific process to take place before claiming harms of new legal highs.
3. The government and their advisers should have the courage to face down media hysteria and let the truth evidence drive decision making.
4. Proper investment in the science of new drugs is required - we at the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs are currently developing guidelines on the minimum data set that will be made public and should be acquired for any new drug before a decision to ban it is made.
5. There is a real need for a new approach to the drug laws; the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act is forty years old, fatally flawed in its current classification system and not fit for purpose in this new internet-based environment in which it must be used; it needs fundamental revision or better still, a completely new approach should be taken.
6. The message must be conveyed to anyone who drinks and takes drugs that alcohol itself is very toxic (killing by acute poisoning, hundreds of young people each year through stopping breathing) and these actions are magnified when in combination with other drugs that lower breathing. If you do consider taking drugs whilst drunk then avoid at all costs other sedative drugs such as opioids and GHB/GBL.
But there is no need for Dr Grumble to tell you any of this because David Nutt now has his own blog. The words above are just a cut and paste job. Professor Nutt is absolutely right but the reality is that the press, police, politicians and the public are never going to be any different. Odd people the lot of them. The oddest thing of all is how accepting the four Ps are of the risks of alcohol and how hostile they are to much more harmless substances.
The press, the police, politicians and the public make a dangerous cocktail.