The dangers of mephedrone are beyond doubt

WITH the latest resignation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – the seventh following the sacking of former chairman Professor David Nutt – its authority and raison d'être has been fatally compromised. Indeed, it has put a major question mark over whether there is now a credible drugs strategy at all.

Eric Catlin, who has resigned over government proposals to classify mephedrone as an illegal drug says that he was "extremely unhappy" at the way the council arrived at its decision and that it was "unduly based on media and political pressure". He wanted to be no part of a body "which, as its main activity, works to facilitate the potential criminalisation of increasing numbers of young people."

Mr Catlin is on firmer ground in arguing that drug policy needs to consider why young people are attracted to drugs, with intervention and prevention being crucial. Drugs policy has to be about more than criminalisation. But there can be little room for doubt as to the danger of mephedrone and the case for changing its classification. It is highly addictive and its misuse has been linked to at least four deaths in the UK. Little wonder there is media and political pressure.

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The fact that it can be legally bought and sold encourages a profoundly mistaken belief among young people that it is somehow less harmful than substances that are classified as illegal. Changing its legal status does not solve the problem, but it is a wholly necessary step.