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Amend the ‘misuse of drugs act 1971’

Comment 3rd July 2010

The classification and prohibition status of drugs should be based on robust scientific assessment of the harms caused by the use of specific substances. Such classification should be independent of arbitrary political whims.

Studies including- 

Drug classification: making a hash of it?, Fifth Report of Session 2005–06, House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee


Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse, David Nutt, Leslie A. King, William Saulsbury, Colin Blakemore, The Lancet, 24 March 2007

have repeatedly shown that the present system of drug classification as ordered under the act is based on historical assumptions, not scientific assessment. To quote from the second source, the act is "not fit for purpose" and "the exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Misuse of Drugs Act is, from a scientific perspective, arbitrary."

The act should be amended to abolish the role of the 'advisory council on the misuse of drugs' which has been shown to be subject to political influence, eliminate the role of the Home Secretary in drug classification as there is no independent oversight of his decision making and no necessary scientific validity to this role, and establish instead an independent organisation that is strictly regulated to follow and abide by the scientific method in the classification of drugs.

The staff and organisation of the existing 'independent scientific committee on drugs', established by Professor David Nutt, would be suitable to fill this role.

Why does this matter?

The importance and superiority of applying the scientific method in developing drug policy is self evident to any one with a rational interest in minimizing harm.

By amending the 'misuse of drugs act 1971' to eliminate the role of the 'advisory council on the misuse of drugs' and the Home Secretary in dictating drug policy- organisations demonstrated to form policy on the basis of political whim, and instead shifting responsibility to an organisation that strictly abides by the scientific method, we can hope to see the optimum policy being developed for reducing drug use related harm in the community.

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