Dumb Science: Recreational Drugs


I’m sure many of you have heard of the drug mephedrone. It was a ‘legal high’ that boomed around the autumn of 2009. Well, since banning it in April 2010, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has had its work cut out, with an average of one new drug a fortnight being released into the market. This perpetual pattern of a new drug emerging and then it being shortly banned was recently highlighted with the case of ‘Ivory Wave’: desoxypipradrol (2-DPMP) is now subject to the same controls as a Class B drug.

Why was it banned? Because its effects seem to represent those of amphetamines: users feel uplifted, chatty, and the urge to dance.

However, Ivory Wave is not cocaine; mephedrone is not ecstasy. Just because they are all drugs, that does not mean they are one and the same thing.

Many of you may be aware of the drug Ritalin, a prescription only drug used for curbing the effects of ADHD. Some students use it as a ‘study aid’ for added concentration during essays. This application for it may be frowned upon, but its use as treatment for a personality disorder is obviously not.

Now, Ivory Wave is the other way around. It is a recreational drug that may have strong medicinal benefits, due to its strikingly similar makeup to Ritalin. Ivory Wave’s effects are shorter, which may be appropriate for treating certain patients. In the right controlled dose, it could act as a new drug for sufferers of ADHD. But, due to the ban on production and importation, research into this is much more difficult.

That is just one drug. ‘Blanket banning’, a move now being implemented by Austria, puts restrictions and criminal sanctions on groups of similar drugs, regardless of their potential benefits. So now we may be missing out on a whole plethora of new treatments, due to a block on researching anything closely resembling banned substances.

As I said, Ivory Wave is not cocaine, so naturally it is not Ritalin either. However, missing the potential medicinal benefits of these drugs seems moronic. Their banning is purely ideological rather than scientific. I hope people would agree that the taking of drugs is a health issue rather than one of crime, especially when considering that the flotilla of legal highs are exactly that: devoid of any criminal sanctions.

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