The calls to ban mephedrone are based on panic not evidence. It's tragic that two young men have died and the grieving parents have, understandably, called for the drug (which is currently legal and found in plant food) to be banned.
The government's 'independent' advisory body has said that it is likely to make a recommendation on the drug at it's March meeting. However, this seems to be jumping the gun as, according the BBC, we actually have no idea what killed these young men.
"Humberside Police said the drug appeared to have contributed to their deaths. They had been out drinking in the hours before they died. Post-mortem examinations are being carried out."So we're talking about banning a commonly available substance and the scientific advisory body will give the government advise before we even know why they died and what they had actually taken that night. What role do independent scientific advisors play if they give advise without evidence?
If it turns out the boys died as a result of taking mephedrone then the public needs to be aware of that because this is a public health issue, but we need to wait for the facts which may point to a different cause of death.
It's all very well for the police to say the drug "appeared" to have contributed to their deaths but it's absolutely irresponsible of them to make such a claim when they actually have neither the expertise nor the evidence to back that up. The post-mortems have not been carried out and we do not know what drugs they took, yet it's clear that government is going to be bounced into a ban.
The police, the tabloids and some elements of the political class are using these boys as a political football to further their agenda, they should be holding their council until we all know what happened, not exploiting the tabloids and the parents' grief.
According to the Guardian one of the boys fathers a retired firefighter said;
"We don't know much about what happened but we think he's been taking this drug on a night out. I don't want him to be labelled a druggie, because he wasn't. He was just on a night out with friends, a normal, caring, hard-working lad."My heart goes out to him. These lads were not bad people, in fact they would not have been bad people even if the drug had been illegal. If we're to make people safe then we cannot base our drugs policies on headlines. If people are poisoning themselves then we need to address this, but using methods that work not the failed methods of prohibition and misinformation.
At the end of the day the government's insistence on treating drug use as a law and order issue rather than a health issue is part of the problem we face. It's my belief that this must change.