The new “legal high” drug, often sold as plant food online, known as Mephedrone, is widely expected to be banned this afternoon by the British Government, despite a senior Drugs Advisor quitting the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) just hours before the decision is due to be announced.
Dr Polly Taylor quit the Council because she “did not have trust” in the manner with which the Government would handle the council’s advice, which is expected to be given to the Home Secretary at 16:00 BST this afternoon.
Despite no person having seen the Council’s recommendations, it is widely reported within the media that the drug will be banned following this consultation.
Mephedrone has seen an incredible amount of negative publicity filtering through the British media since it first came to attention in the past couple of years including, more recently, being held accountable for up to four deaths by the British press and television news.
According to Dr Harris, the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) states that a legally constituted advisory council, such as the ACMD should be properly consulted and that:
“If it is necessary to act urgently to ban mephedrone then, by provoking this resignation by their refusal to respect the scientists who offer advice, the home secretary will now be forced to wait a delay while the council is properly constituted.”
This move, which must be considered nothing more than a stalling tactic from Dr Harris, who is a vet, would appear to mean that the Council is no longer properly constituted, and therefore unable to give advice on Mephedrone this afternoon. As a result, any decision which is reached before the ACMD is properly constituted may well be on shaky legal ground.
However, speculation coming from Westminster, which perhaps prompted Dr Harris’ resignation in the first instance, is that, come the end of this week, Mephedrone will be banned under the Act, in the UK, as a “Class B” substance – placing it in the same category as Cannabis and Amphetamines.
Indeed, Home Office lawyers have decided that:
“Based on its current formation, the ACMD is still able to fulfil its statutory role and provide advice on mephedrone today on which we can act. We have said we intend to act immediately on receipt of the ACMD’s advice and this is still our intention.”
Whether or not their take on this issue would stand up to a legal challenge may well be moot, as it could well be deemed unlikely that any party would raise such a challenge, if this is the case, as it would appear, Dr Harris’ resignation has missed its mark: Mephedrone will be banned following this afternoon’s announcement.