Tag Archives: drugs

We should be sceptical of news, even when we agree

Some may have been surprised to read recently that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved three trials of MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder – the final phase of validation required to turn the “dance drug” into a legal medicine. Surprised, probably, because we have been repeatedly told for over two decades that MDMA is a very dangerous drug and that “there is no such thing as a ‘safe dose’”. Doctors would surely never give a dangerous drug with no safe dose to someone just to aid therapy, so what’s going on here?

It has been known since the 1970s that MDMA had some potential in psychotherapy, but almost all research and testing on the drug was halted when it was globally criminalised in the mid-1980s. But the story of how we got to a place where MDMA is “Class A” (the most dangerous drugs) is a sorry story of misleading experiments, politicised research, biased scientific endeavour, wilful distortion of facts, and – most importantly – the silence of the scientific and medical establishments in the face of obvious manipulation of the truth.

Nearly all research on MDMA since the 1980s has been funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) or its predecessors. Its very name – “drug abuse” – gives away the goal of the organisation, which is to provide the evidence backing for politicians to promote the “War on Drugs”. In that goal it has been hugely influential.

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Pre-testing Party Drugs: concrete steps avoid concrete pills

In the latest British edition of The Economist (July 30th) , there is a report about a useful initiative in the field of (il)legal highs and party drugs like XTC (as we Dutch spell ecstacy). It appears that there is a non-profit organization called The Loop, with a professor Fiona Measham, criminologist at Durham University, amongst its co-directors; she is their spokesperson in the article.

Medical Drugs for Pharmacy Health Shop of MedicineThey’re this year starting to travel around local summer music festivals, offering festival-goers to test their party drugs before they consume them. The result at the “Secret Garden Party” near Cambridge were sobering: stuff sold as “MDMA crystal” was ordinary brown sugar, and hard grey pills were actually made from concrete, the building material. And where XTC really was XTC, some pills were five times as potent as others being tested.

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Reforming Drug Policy Shouldn’t Just Be About Cannabis

drugsWe are the party at the forefront of drug reform policy. There are and have been smaller, single-issue parties that have been campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis for years, but we are the only major party to bring the debate on to the political mainstage.

There are different arguments for the cases of decriminalisation or legalisation – though the two main arguments are almost always centred round healthcare. The first is: with decriminalisation, we can treat addiction like an illness instead of a crime – a noble idea, …

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Give doctors the right to prescribe Cannabis for those in real pain

Nick Clegg’s Standard column this week tackled the issue of Cannabis prescription:

He tells some real-life stories of people whose lives have been transformed by being able to use Cannabis:

Faye, a corporate PA for a big company who was diagnosed four years ago with rheumatoid arthritis, is about as far away from the cliché of the layabout pothead as you can possibly imagine. An ambitious, outgoing and highly able young woman, the pain threatened to derail the career she had been building since the age of 16. She tried a number of prescription medicines but they came with a range of nasty side effects, from hair loss to constant nausea, that often left her too ill to work.

Four years later, her career is back on track. She makes her own cannabis-based skin cream that she can use at work, which has no psychoactive qualities and can easily be disguised so that no one knows she is using cannabis. To her colleagues, it looks like she simply keeps a small jar of normal hand cream on her desk. As a result, she told me that she can “live my life as I used to four years ago”. But she does so at great expense and at the risk of a criminal record. She is also forced to put herself into potentially difficult situations in order to obtain the cannabis she needs.

Nick makes the point that not one of these people wants to be criminals:

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The UK and the EU have a chance to stand up for drug policy reform

 

Nick Clegg made a big announcement on Thursday 1st October that has as yet gone unreported on LDV – he’s going on a jolly around Europe. Well no, not quite. He’s actually going on a tour of the EU to try to convince its leaders to stand together on the subject of international drug policy reform. Nothing like a challenge, eh Nick? But this is a serious issue, and at an absolutely crucial time. In April next year, the UN General Assembly will be holding a Special Session (UNGASS) to debate how to approach global drug policy over the next ten years and beyond, at a point where different parts of the world are diverging ever more rapidly on the issue of how to tackle the problems associated with drug use.

If the EU stands together united at UNGASS in calling for certain reforms to the UN conventions, and I sincerely hope Nick succeeds with his mission and it does, it has a much greater chance of making a positive impact. But what reforms can the EU agree to stand on? At one end countries like France and Sweden do not endorse any kind of change to their (relatively) strict drug laws, whereas countries like the Netherlands and Portugal have lead the way on liberal, evidence-based drug reforms for years. In the middle we have countries moving both ways too, with both Germany and Italy making noises about reforming their cannabis policies, Ireland voicing its support for drug decriminalisation and supervised injecting rooms and the the UK… well the less said about that the better. In fact, it has been noted that the EU can be seen as a near-perfect experiment for comparing the efficacy of a spectrum of subtly varied drug policies on relatively similar populations.

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Lord Brian Paddick writes…Standing up for evidence-based policy on drug laws

Yesterday in the House of Lords I called a vote to change the government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill. The Conservatives and Labour refused to support the change and we lost the vote 314 votes to 95, which was a great result. So how can such a crushing defeat be good? Because we established, on the record, that neither the Tories nor Labour support a scientific, evidence-based approach to reducing the harm caused by drugs. And here’s why.

The Tory government, supported by Labour, is pushing through a draconian, authoritarian law that would ban any substance that changes the way you think or the way you feel (your mental functioning or emotional state). There is no doubt some of the substances that the legislation covers are highly dangerous, but Lib Dems do not support a blanket ban that could do more harm than good. Things normally consumed as food and prescription medicines are not covered but tea, beer and cigarettes would all be banned except for the fact that caffeine, alcohol and nicotine (and only those three things) are specifically listed in the bill as being exempt.

The government has made it quite clear that they do not intend to add anything else to the list of exemptions and the law also prohibits anyone from removing ‘the establishment’s drugs of choice’ from the exempt list. So despite the wealth of scientific evidence that shows how much more dangerous alcohol is than, say, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), both in terms of the harm it causes to individuals and to society, the government intends to use this Bill to ban it.

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Greg Mulholland’s row with the Speaker – the obvious solution

Yesterday, Leeds MP Greg Mulholland tried to ask a question about the availability of a drug to treat a constituent’s rare disease – and was prevented from doing so by the Speaker for being “long-winded.”  ITV News has the story:

Speaker John Bercow had warned Mr Mulholland to be quick in his statement but after referring to missed decision dates given to families by health authorities, the Lib Dem was told to resume his seat.

Six-year-old Sam Brown from Otley. Sam, who has Morquio syndrome needs Vimazim treatment, mentioned by Mr Mulholland, but NHS England deferred a decision over whether to provide the drug, then last week announced it would wait for guidance from NICE, the health body consulting on the drug.

There is a video of the exchange on the ITV site and, to be honest, I’m quite annoyed with John Bercow. Greg was no more long-winded than many of the other questions that day – Hansard has the details so you can see for yourself. All Greg had said before he was interrupted was this:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 20th Jan - 11:40am
    Why should polls change now? Nothing has happened. Unfortunately, Britons need to get poorer first, just wait...
  • User AvatarLaurence Cox 20th Jan - 11:38am
    I blame Juncker for the problem over EU citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in other EU countries. Here is how the BBC...
  • User AvatarBernard Aris 20th Jan - 11:32am
    @ Steve Way Ou should have learned from the years-long Downing Street feud not tyyo be tak3en in by Downing street spinnning. The Guardian reported...
  • User AvatarB. I. Nary 20th Jan - 10:56am
    Totally misguided concept based on the fallacious assumption that all women are disadvantaged compared to all men.
  • User AvatarDav 20th Jan - 10:53am
    It doesn’t matter, for representative democracy, what the result of a vote in the House of Commons would have been Slight correction: it doesn't matter...
  • User AvatarCatherine Jane Crosland 20th Jan - 10:43am
    Thanks, Duncan