Update: Re:Vision in the News – Our thoughts on Mexxy

Mancunion Matters, 2nd May, 2012.

“Manchester drug experts and activists are warning people against the result of the government’s temporary ban of the legal high methoxetamine, or MXE.

The government invoked new banning powers and for the first time used a temporary class drug order (TCDO) to forbid the supply of the legal high.Methoxetamine, with street name mexxy, MXE, ROFLCOPTER, was banned at the end of March for up to 12 months after a recommendation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which assessed the drug in less than 20 working days.

Michael Linnell from Manchester-based drug and alcohol charity Lifeline expressed doubts about the new powers deployed to prohibit methoxetamine, a ketamine analogue.“It is almost the worst system in the world that you could possibly have”, he said.

Anyone caught making, supplying or importing the drug will face up to 14 years in prison and unlimited fine.During the period of 12 months, the ACMD will look into the risks associated with the drug and decide whether to permanently prohibit it.

“I think it highly unlikely that they are going to turn around after a year saying we can have that one, it can stay legal,” said Mr Linnell.

Mr Linnell says that 15 different types of new substances that are currently making it into the country are raising concerns about the risks associated with their use.“What will now happen is the ACMD will look at it for a year. In the meantime, it will be replaced by something far more dangerous.“You squeeze the bubble somewhere and it pops up somewhere else you don’t you,” he said.

Sarah McCulloch, chair of Re:Vision Drug Policy Network, said: “While the government announcing an intention to conduct proper research into the effects and potential harms of a drug is much more preferable to a reliance to knee-jerk reactions and hyperbole, no-one had really heard of mexxy before the government banned it.“

By banning mexxy, it suddenly has allured to people wanting to know why it was banned, and more people will now probably use it than would have done if the government had left it to the more obscure corners of the internet.”

The process started after mexxy was wrongly linked to the death of four people. The ACMD later said that there were no confirmed deaths related to methoxetamine in the UK.However, a referral letter from the Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour and a recommendation from the ACMD to Home Secretary Theresa May followed. This resulted in the temporary ban.

The Crime Prevention Minister Lord Henley said: “Making this drug illegal sends a clear message to users and those making and supplying it that we are stepping up our fight against substances which are dangerous and ruin lives of victims and their families.”

Prior to the ban, you could buy little methoxetamine pills from head shops or online from over 200 UK-based websites.“The head shops are no longer selling methoxetamine. If you as a person had a lot of methoxatamine for your personal use, you can quite happily go on and use it. It is the supply that this temporary class order is supposed to stop”, said Mr Linnell.

He said that MXE rose in popularity due to shortage of ketamine, the third most popular illegal drug in the country.“They changed the legislation in India and most of our supplies were coming from India where it was still legal.“

Methoxetamine became popular among already existing ketamine users because of shortage. Methoxetamine is similar and most people say it is longer acting and more intense than ketamine.”

In the UK, ketamine was legal until 2006 when in the included in the Misuse of Drugs Act as class C drug.

“Interestingly, since 2006 the use has doubled. Banning actually increased the use,” Mr Linnell said.“They are already ketamine analogues on the market that seem to be replacing it. The real danger is the development of an illicit market. There are so many different analogues that are potentially far more dangerous.”

According to the November 2011 Global Drug Survey, 4.2% of the 7,700 respondents in the UK reported using methoxetamine in the last year.About 2.4% reported using methoxetamine in the last month.

Ms McCulloch said: “Prohibiting production and supply likely means the purity of the drug will plummet, as did the purity of mephedrone after it was banned, endangering the safety of users.“While a temporary ban, which refrains from punishing users, is better than immediate criminalisation, what we”re still seeing is the effort to criminalise substances as they become popular is driving people to use far less well-known and researched ‘designer drugs’, for which no-one knows the risks. Only proper control and regulation is going to protect the public and the individual.”

In light of new government powers to temporary ban legal highs and experts’ concerns about users’ safety, MM sought the opinion of the user.

Two MXE users agreed to talk to MM. The interviews will follow later this week.”

Original Link

Update: International Women’s Day and Drug Policy (8th March)

Aside

International Women”s Day is an annual day to raise awareness of women”s issues around the world. Women are discriminated against in many areas of public life across the world. This can vary from being paid less, to being denied work, the right to vote, access to one’s children or appropriate healthcare, or in some parts of the world, even from being unaccompanied in public places or driving. Re:Vision are very big on equality and diversity. As the drug war is fought primarily against marginalised members of society, women are more likely to be harshly treated in the prosecution of this war.

Read our blogpost: “International Women”s Day: How the drug war affects women.”

Download our free briefing, “Women and Drugs”.

Happy International Women”s Day!

Update: Make Your Submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee

The Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee is launching an inquiry the government’s current drugs strategy, particularly whether it is a ”fiscally responsible policy with strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights”. This committee is made up of backbench MPs and Lords who have an interest in how our government works in this country. The committee has invited organisations and individuals to submit written evidence relevant to the inquiry.Re:Vision want to make it easy for people to submit evidence to the inquiry, so we”ve set up a form to help you to contribute:

1. Individual submissions

We”ve made it easy for you to write up anything you want to tell the inquiry by using this handy online form. Fill in your details and the sections, and we”ll send it off for you.

The Re:Vision submission

In addition to the individual submissions, the Re:Vision Drug Policy Network has submitted a organisation submission based on the comments that our members made on our collaborative document. Thank you to everyone who helped!If you want to be involved in helping to bring about an evidence based drugs policy focused on harm reduction, get writing!’,’The Home Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee is launching an inquiry the government’s current drugs strategy, particularly whether it is a ”fiscally responsible policy with strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights”. Re:Vision want to make it easy for people to submit evidence to the inquiry, so we”ve set up a form to help you to contribute:

Update: Breaking the Taboo and Other News

Dear drug law reformers,

today sees the online premiere of the ground-breaking Breaking the Taboo, a documentary about the drug war. Featuring prominent statesmen including Presidents Clinton and Carter, the film follows the Global Commission on Drug Policy on a mission to break the political taboo and expose the biggest failure of global policy in the last 50 years.

Another film about how the drug war is a failure will not be new to many of us, but this is one of the first times that so many public and political figures have been willing to admit that the project that they themselves in many cases worked on has been a failure and that we need something different. Coming on top of the first referenda in the world to legalise cannabis by public mandate in Colorado and Washington, we can finally see the cracks in Prohibition starting to cave in. Inspired or spurred on by the referenda, numerous other states are now looking at a range of other solutions, including Uruguay”s proposed state monopoly of cannabis.

You can watch Breaking the Taboo here.

Our review is here.

The House I Live In

If you haven”t had your fill of celebrity-studded award-winning gritty documentaries about the drug war, The House I Live In, sponsored by Brad Pitt and Danny Glover and directed by Eugene Jarecki, will be airing with a Panel Q&A following at the Oval in London on the 11th December. Tickets are on sale here.

Some Re:Vision folks will be going, so please get in touch if you are too and would like to meet up.

On the Blog

Finally, our latest blogposts:

* The Royal Baby and Drug Policy

* Attitudes need to be Changed Towards Hard Drugs

* Drug Decriminalisation: a Good Idea, but Not Enough

* Drugs on Trial Live Vs the Real Scandal of Modern Medicine

Update: Our Response to the European Commission’s new anti-drugs strategy

Aside

In January 2012, Re:Vision Drug Policy Network submitted a document to the public consultation on the European Commission”s new anti-drugs strategy, “Towards a Stronger European Response on Drugs”. While we didn”t feel that the Commission was going to change their policy on drugs overnight, we did feel that it was important for the useful aspects of the report to be praised (such as the proposal to introduce Europe-wide programmes to support scientific research into new psychoactive substances) and to bring a youth voice to the table to condemn the less useful aspects (such as pumping large quantities of money into “prevention” programmes that we believe are contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights). We have reproduced our report here.