Friday, August 20, 2010

The Government on drugs 2

At the same time as the announcement on dropping benefits for addicts under specific circumstances another connecting item came through about the government's ability to ban 'legal-highs' for a year until test results regarding harmful effects are produced.

On the face of it this seems a reasonable suggestion. Except( and you knew there was going to be one didn't you?) it has a few problems.

Firstly it strikes at the heart of our legal system which is that you can do as you wish provided it doesn't hurt anyone or they have reasonable cause to suggest it may hurt someone. In this instance there's suspicion but no reasonable cause.

The second and main point is that's it's discriminatory. If a product is sold without any "medical claims" unless it's demonstrated to be harmful it's perfectly okay to do so, this is how some vitamin stores, herbal practitioners, and homoeopaths can sell their wares. So what's the difference between what they're selling and 'legal-highs'? Why is there no suspicion that these other items may cause harm and banning them until tests show otherwise? Cynical me suggests that it's because herbal 'medicines' are popular, hardly a sound basis for a law.

Finally at least the ban is only for a year, or is it. Supposedly it's until tests are conducted, yet tests on such items unless they're highly dangerous can take years to see symptoms. So if the tests come back inconclusive will the ban be lifted or will it turn into a rolling ban until such time as the item in question is proved safe and even if the tests do come back with a clean bill of health will the government listen to the experts or the media?

Just seems to be a string of quick media friendly fixes being rolled out.