So Eric Carlin becomes yet another casualty of the government's stupid attitude to drugs;
resigning on 1/4/2010 over pressure on the ACMD to rush a decision regarding the classification of mephedrone - despite the lack of any real research into its pharmacology, long or even medium-term effects, and the lack of appropriate consideration given to what extent a 'ban' will actually effect any significant harm reduction in the future.
In fact some evidence seems to suggest that decriminalisation is a more useful strategy than than simplistic reactionary prohibition in terms of harm reduction . The most well known example is decriminalisation of personal possession of all drugs in Portugal:-
The Cato Institute report on drug decriminalisation in Portugal showed:-
"that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well".
Furthermore the new laws, which will come into effect in a few weeks, are "expected" to target other "substituted cathinones" as well. This should have implications for 'khat' usage (from which cathinones are derived), which is very common in the UK amongst Ethiopian and Somali immigrants. Khat usage is so mainstream amongst these populations that to criminalise its use is effectively to criminalise an entire ethnic minority. I have no idea how the government will fairly enforce this legislation in practice.