… we haven’t had a good drug panic for a few years*, so it was obviously slightly overdue. Hearing the calls for a ban on mephedrone instantly recalled the Simpson’s Maude Flanders. There is also a delicious irony, which you should join me in enjoying immensely, as the report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs into the banning of legal highs such as mephedrone has been delayed by the resignation of an advisor, Dr Les King, in support of Prof David Nutt, forced out of his job by imbeciles for the crime of saying something sensible about drugs for a change.
Calls for a ban seem to be mounting and it will be a brave government that manages to resist the temptation to be seen to be doing something about such a tabloid front-page-friendly story this close to an election. Once again, it seems we will miss an opportunity to consider our drugs policy and its effects, intended and otherwise, on our safety and security.
Banning mephedrone, as with other substances, will do anything but make it safer. Production will then pass into the hands of unscrupulous people, outside of any regulatory framework and with no control over potency or contamination. There is a suspicion that the batch of the drug taken by those who died in the Scunthorpe case was contaminated. Instead, we would be better to focus our attention on education for users and the treatment of addicts.
If we are mature enough to accept that human beings will always seek out ways to escape reality, be it by heroin, khat or a caramel macchiato, then we can try to lessen the harm. Leah Betts’ name will always be connected to ecstasy, but she arguably might be alive today if she had known about water intoxication. It is too early to say, but it could be that drinking heavily in combination with the stimulant mephedrone puts the heart under excess strain. Regardless, deaths this year from miaow miaow, and from E, will be dwarfed by the numbers of us dying because of over-indulging in our favourite tipples. Yet we won’t be seeing too many calls for the banning of gin and tonics across the front pages.
* Of course, we did drug panics much better when I were a young ‘un. I think we will be waiting a long time until mephedrone spawns something as amazing as the ‘Inspector Morse ecstasy episode‘:
[the doctor offers first Morse and then Lewis an ecstasy tablet]
Dr. Hallett: Lewis?
Detective Sergeant Lewis: No thanks, Sir. Not in front of the Chief Inspector.