The main principles underpinning the new Psychoactive Substances Bill were debated in parliament on Tuesday and, quite predictably, the general consensus was that it’s all a big joke.
The Bill, which is designed to reduce the problem of dangerous synthetic drugs flooding the UK market, creates a blanket ban on any substance that can affect a person’s ‘mental functioning or emotional state’. Many critics of the legislation have questioned whether it will effectively ban many household items such as candles or incense.
Brian Paddick, 57-year-old Lib Dem MP, told the House that the “dangers in the bill as drafted are to make the drug laws even more of a laughing stock than they are currently.”
Baroness Hollins, professor of the psychiatry at St George’s University of London, took a similar stance. She drew attention to the fact that the new bill is so ludicrous that it implies that alcohol has no psychoactive component.
“My Lords, the Bill defines a new psychoactive substance as any substance intended for human consumption, ‘capable of producing a psychoactive effect’,” she argued.
“It describes a substance causing a psychoactive effect on a person as, ‘if, by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, it affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state’.
“I speak as someone who has been a psychiatrist for many years, although this is not my field of psychiatry. However, alcohol produces this effect. Antihistamines for hay fever do, too, as do many of the most helpful medications for neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.”
In my opinion, there is an issue with these crazy, unpredictable drugs coming into the country. But history has taught us that banning substances does not curb the use. We need to look at the reason this has happened, the reason is prohibition.
The only rational solution is to legalise the lot. That way we will know exactly what people are taking (and how to treat them should it go wrong), as the market will be regulated. Furthermore, as we will actually regulate the production and sale of drugs, it will be difficult for minors to buy them.
The money that gangsters make from overseeing the black market trade in drugs can go to educating people – who are determined to take drugs regardless of the dangers – on how to do it safely. And that’s not mentioning the money we’ll save from no longer enforcing the expensive and counter-productive drug prohibition, money our public services desperately need.
What is your stance? Whack it in the comments section.