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News - 8 December 2010

New drug laws 'draconian'

Campaigners have spotted sub-clauses in the UK government's new bill that effectively remove respect for individual liberty when prohibiting particular drugs.

They believe that the proposed Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill would give home secretary Theresa May draconian power to ban a substance without regard to whether society as a whole will be adversely affected by the drug.

The proposal follows the sacking of top adviser Professor David Nutt last year, and seven other advisers' resignations amid complaints that politics rather than evidence was driving drug policy. The Drug Equality Alliance accused ministers of "seeking vengeance". The Home Office insisted scientific advice remained "absolutely critical".

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill will remove the requirement for ACMD membership to include a doctor, a dentist, a vet, a pharmacist, a drugs industry expert and a scientist from another branch of chemistry.

Darryl Bickler, of the Drug Equality Alliance, which campaigns for rational rather than subjective drug laws, accused the government of "reaping vengeance by sweeping away potential heretics that might seek to use evidence rather than tabloid hysteria to fulfil the need to be seen to be doing something". He added that the bill "would effectively emasculate and bypass" the ACMD.

Read the rest of this item from the BBC here

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