In a report published today, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended that the government should consider using consumer protection legislation to assist the control of some new drugs. This would shift the burden of proof onto those who supply new drugs to prove that their products are safe.
The ACMD’s recommendations are similar to those made earlier this year in a report by UKDPC and Demos. The report, Taking Drugs Seriously, warned that the Misuse of Drugs Act is becoming increasingly unenforceable as the number of substances it controls rises beyond 600 at the same time as the police and other enforcement agencies’ resources are coming under growing pressure.
UKDPC and Demos also concluded that there is no clear evidence that classifying a substance through the Misuse of Drugs Act reduces overall harms and it is possible that it can, unintentionally, increase harms. Similar proposals for a new approach were also made recently by the New Zealand Law Commission.
Using powers like Trading Standards laws to begin to control and regulate the sale of some new drugs could mean that some relatively less harmful new substances would be made available for legal sale under certain strict conditions, such as age, quantity, marketing and labelling restrictions.