29 March 2010

Criminalising Mephedrone - What Might Happen

Predicting the impact of criminalising mephedrone is difficult. Its use is a cultural phenomenon, and predicting how culture will progress in the future will always be speculative. But here's my best shot.

The existence of mephedrone is testament to the inherent desire of humans to want to get high. This trait can't be changed by the government. So four things are likely to happen:
  1. Mephedrone users will continue to use mephedrone. They like the feeling that the drug provides, and will continue to seek (and may be addicted) to the high it provides. Instead of suppliers who were complying with the law, mephedrone will now be provided to them by criminal gangs, who will command an inflated, untaxed premium for the drug. Some addicts will turn to crime to fund their habit. The strength and purity of mephedrone will greatly vary, to the detriment of the health of users. Rivalry between the drug gangs will bring violence and weapons to inner-city streets.
  2. Mephedrone users will switch to more familiar highs, such as cocaine or ecstasy, that mephedrone attempted to emulate. They will be supplied by criminal gangs, with all the above problems.
  3. Previously legitimate businesses that supplied mephedrone will be forced to close, with subsequent job losses. This is at odds with Gordon Brown's statement that "every redundancy is a personal tragedy. Every lost job is an aspiration destroyed. Every business closure is someone’s dream in ruins."
  4. Mephedrone users will switch to some of the many other legal highs on the market. Like mephedrone, the effects of these new drugs will not be known by science, and may be more dangerous than mephedrone, causing a new wave of deaths, and a new wave of calls for government action. This new market may temper some of the business closures and jobs lost from mephedrone's criminalisation.
Is this really progress?


Anonymous said...

As a past user of illicit substances and therefore first hand exposure to the criminal 'under-world', I am able to concur with Mr.Stott. All the points raised in this article are very insightful and correct. Why cannot, the powers that be, be equally enlightened? I, alongside Mr.Stott and like minded sane members of society, urge the govt to show some originality and become less reactive and more pragmatic.

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