Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Drugs: Ban Everything!

Even by the standards of modern legislation, the psychoactive substances bill is startlingly inane. It seems to ban any substance which can cause a mental or emotional reaction. As must be obvious, that's almost everything in the world. Did this taste remind you of your mother's cooking? It's a psychoactive substance. Did it bring you a moment of happiness? It's a psychoactive substance. The government is about to ban almost everything...

Ian Dunt on on a spectacularly dumb piece of tabloid-friendly populist drivel.

Where will it leave, say, poppers?

It's so ill thought-out surely the legislation will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions?

What stupid idea will they come up with next?

Oh, mandatory age and ID Checks if you want to watch porn!

PS Vice clarifies that it's all based on a load of bollocks...

You know those legal highs that the government is about to ban en masse because they kill two people per week? They don't kill two people per week, or anything close.

Wednesday's Queen's speech, the first airing of a fully Tory parliamentary programme since 1996, included an unprecedented blanket ban on selling new psychoactive substances.

The announcement was met with various responses. Most importantly, a briefly-amusingVine of the Queen set to an Avicii 2011 Trance Energy lightshow drop. But alsowarnings that the ban turns centuries of British legal tradition on its head, and plenty ofTwitter users saying that the 97 deaths from legal highs in 2012 pales in comparison to the thousands of deaths linked to booze.

But for anyone with even a fleeting interest in the issue, the pertinent response should have been: Why is everyone in this story about banning legal highs talking about 97 deaths, when that figure is largely composed of drugs that were not legal at the time people died from taking them?

The dramatic "97 deaths" figure has travelled well, being quoted by the BBC, the Press Association and the Daily Mail, among others. While yesterday was bad news for the guys selling Bob Marley weed grinders and "Adihash" T-shirts, it was very good news for a right-wing think tank founded by Iain Duncan Smith called the Centre for Social Justice, or CSJ

The CSJ has a strong evangelical Christian bent and is extremely influential in the Tory party. They have been pushing for a blanket ban for a while, so for them yesterday's news was a major victory. The think tank's lead man on legal highs, Rupert Oldham-Reid,hailed the proposed law in an article for Conservative Home, quoting everyone's favourite figure for legal high deaths, or something close to it. "Most tragically, in the last Parliament, the number of deaths associated with 'legal highs' has gone from one per month to over two per week," he wrote. The influence of the CSJ was also seen in a BBC piece published earlier this week, which declared: "Research from the Centre for Social Justice showed that there were 97 recorded deaths from legal highs in the UK in 2012."

Except there obviously weren't...

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