Health Direct reveals Labour’s drug problem

Health Direct asks what is the problem that labour has with drugs?

First off, when they took office in 1997 they created NICE- the National Institute for Curbing Expenditure.

The spin was that NICE would research and regulate new drugs treatments. In practice this was a clever wheeze to cut NHS costs by limiting access to new life saving treatments.

AKA the postcode lottery. AKA the killer quango.

The creation of nice meant that for the first time since the sixties unelected anonymous people were given the power of life- or death over British subjects.

So opaque were the “rules” governing nice’s remit that drug companies had to go to court to find out how they actually evaluate and approve new drugs.

Then in parallel whilst labour were messing around with “mainstream” drugs they flip flopped with recreational drugs. One memont downgrading cannabis then upgrading it, as well as ignoring the scientific evidence of ecstacy.

On Wednesday, August 02, 2006 Health Direct posted: Risks of taking drugs compared- Scientific review of dangers of drugtaking– Drugs, the real deal when Health Direct reproduced the first ranking based upon scientific evidence of harm to both individuals and society. It was devised by government advisers – then ignored by ministers because of its controversial findings.

The analysis was carried out by David Nutt, a senior member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and Colin Blakemore, the chief executive of the Medical Research Council. Copies of the report have been submitted to the Home Office, which has failed to act on the conclusions.

Since then labour’s stance on recreational drugs has not improved, below and tomorrow Health Direct posts a review by the Financial Times:

The Slow Road To A Ban

The emergence of the rave party scene in the 1980s and the circulation in the early 1990s of the Californian pharmacologist Alexander Shulgin’s “cookbook” on how to make more than 200 psychoactive substances created the conditions for a new generation of potent products.

When the resulting “designer drugs” began to proliferate in Europe, national authorities saw the need to introduce new mechanisms to speed up cross-border regulation and control.

Currently, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol, which liaises between police across the EU, consider whether a new drug merits more detailed study. They look at the substance’s biological, psychological and behavioural effect on the user; the effect on families, neighbourhoods and communities, and on society at large.

They then may recommend to the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency that a “risk assessment” be launched. If a qualified majority of the European Council agrees, the drug may then be banned and brought within criminal laws in EU member states. The process can take many months from identification to ban.

The UK Drugs Market

Despite the tough criminal penalties for dealers, illegal drugs are available relatively cheaply. The Home Office says cannabis in resin or herbal form typically sells for £10 for an eighth of an ounce – enough for half-a-dozen joints – and the more potent skunk for twice that. Ecstasy sells for £2-£5 per pill, amphetamines for £10 per gramme and cocaine and heroin for £30-£50 for a gramme – enough for four or five lines. Crack cocaine sells at about £65 per gramme.

By contrast, “herbal highs” such as Spice are more expensive, typically selling for £20-£30 in shops and over the internet. One reason may be precisely because they are not banned, so purchasers will pay a premium to stay within the law. Plus, for large manufacturers, there are overheads to cover such as tax that are not borne by criminal dealers.

Legal drugs’ slick marketing and packaging may persuade customers that they are less dangerous for their health. But Les King, a Home Office adviser, warns against glib comparisons with their illegal counterparts. “Perhaps Spice is seen as safer,” he says, “if only because it comes in a nice package rather than, like cannabis, in a dirty piece of clingfilm.”


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