The word “drugs” refers to prescribed medicines and illegal substances, e.g. ecstasy, cocaine and LSD. It is a common practice to consider alcohol and tobacco as drugs, because they are highly addictive. The UK public health system prohibited drugs, and the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed in 1971. Then the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) was created. This organization was responsible for classification of the drugs according to the amount of harm that different substances cause for human health.
The Advisory Council members determined three classes of drugs and set certain penalties for the drug’s use. Many recreational drugs, namely painkillers, ketamine and marihuana, were classified as Class C drugs. Amphetamines and pholcodine were included in Class B. Hard drugs, such as heroin, ecstasy, magic mushrooms, and crack, were a part of Class A. This classification was based on expert opinion of lawyers, members of non-governmental organisations, doctors, and scientists. The ACMD created a risk assessment matrix and considered dependence, physical harm and social issues.
The experts conducted investigation and found out that many sport products contained anabolic steroids that were so harmful that they were banned as Class C drugs. In 2010, the ACMD discovered that mephedrone consumption caused blood pressure changes, hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety. Therefore, mephedrone and its compounds were labeled as Class B drugs and banned under the new legislation.
The chair of the ACMD insisted and did a lot to create legislation that prevented the production of drugs, especially cathinones. It was reasonable to create the legislative barriers for manufacturers and suppliers of drugs.
Today the Home Office is responsible for drugs policy in the UK. However, it is argued that the Department of Health could do a better work. Many experts agree that the ABC classification system is putting an emphasis on social harm and criminal penalties, but the health harm is being underestimated. Non-governmental organizations share information about the damage caused by drugs, how to avoid overdose, why it is important to exchange needles. Nevertheless, this approach does not seem to work out.
Some people promote the ideas of legalized drugs. They argue that this will help to decrease the violence and make the drugs affordable for addicted individuals. It is surprising that the fifth most dangerous and harmful drug according to the research published in Lancet is actually legal. This drug is alcohol and people can easily buy it in every grocery store. The statistics is painful, and more effords need to be done in order to reduce the effects of alcohol and drug abuse in the UK.
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