Like most governments, the United Kingdom’s drug policy is centred on the prohibition of addictive drugs. That policy, however, may be doing more harm than good, says Alexander Tyndall in an article for TES Connect.
New, more dangerous drugs are rising
Tyndall quotes Imperial College London and former government drugs policy adviser David Nutt as saying the drug policy in place is to blame for the rise of new, more dangerous drugs like the PMMA, which is actually a new type and a more potent version of the prohibited Ecstasy or MMDA. According to Professor Nutt, the emergence of PMMA, which is being linked to four recent deaths, is “just one of many examples of how prohibition of one drug leads to greater harm from an alternative that is developed to overcome the block”.
Nutt also suggests that the government should take a closer look at drug policy of The Netherlands, where they allow the use of public facilities to test their drugs, all without being prosecuted. This way, Nutt says, drug users would know they bought drugs that aren’t exactly what they expected them to be, and the government is instantly tipped off about the existence of newer and potentially more dangerous recreational drugs.
The latter sounds like a good idea, but it sounds like a pitch for the decriminalisation of drugs. While legalisation of drugs may have its advantages in certain areas, it could also lead to the rise of more casual users. Given the addictive nature of most of these drugs, those casual users will very likely become hardcore users, and that will present governments with another public health problem. This isn’t to mention employers–even those who have already made an effort towards drug policy development–who will surely have a headache dealing with the conflicts of interest such a change in drug policy would bring.
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