Consultation letter issued by Action Against Drugs
Dear Sir or Madam
CHANGES TO THE MISUSE OF DRUGS LEGISLATION
The purpose of this letter is to draw to your attention, and invite comments on, the Governments proposals for controlling 36 substances - which have chemical structures similar to that of ecstasy - under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and its associated subordinate legislation. These proposals have been prepared in consultation with, and on the advice of, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
2. It is also proposed that the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1985 should be consolidated at the same time.
Reasons for decision
3. The substance 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as MDMA or ecstasy) has been controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a Class A drug since 1977 . It is controlled by means of the generic definition in paragraph 1(c) of Part I of Schedule 2 to the Act. The generic definition also covers approximately 144 other identified substances with a similar chemical structure, all of which are also Class A controlled drugs.
4. There are, however, a further 36 identified substances which have a chemical structure similar to that of ecstasy which are not covered by the generic definition. As a result, they are not at present controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. There is some evidence to suggest that some of the substances have been produced in clandestine laboratories for the illicit drugs market and there have been a few police seizures of some of the 36 substances in the United Kingdom. The Government is therefore proposing that these 36 substances should be brought under the 1971 Acts controls. It would not be possible to bring them within the terms of a generic definition without also catching substances with actual or potential therapeutic usefulness. It is therefore proposed to control the substances individually by name.
5. The 36 substances are:-
1) Allyl(alpha -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl)amine
4) Benzyl(alpha -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl)amine
5) 4-bromo-beta ,2,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine
7) Cyclopropylmethyl(alpha -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl)amine
16) alpha ,alpha -dimethyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethylamine
17) alpha ,alpha -dimethyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl(methyl)amine
18) Dimethyl(alpha -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl)amine
20) 4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxy-alpha -methylphenethyl(dimethyl)amine
24) 2-methoxyethyl(alpha -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl)amine
26) beta -methoxy-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethylamine
29) 2-(alpha -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethylamino)ethanol
30) alpha -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl(prop-2-ynyl)amine
31) N-methyl-N-(a -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl)hydroxylamine
32) O-methyl-N-(a -methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyphenethyl)hydroxylamine
33) beta ,3,4,5-tetramethoxyphenethylamine
34) beta ,2,5-trimethoxy-4-methylphenethylamine
35) alpha -methyl-4-(methylthio)phenethylamine (also known as 4-Methylthio amphetamine)
36) alpha -methylphenethylhydroxylamine (also known as N-hydroxyamphetamine)
Proposed regimes of control
6. In accordance with the advice he has received from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs the Home Secretary proposes to control the substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and its subordinate regulations as set out below:-
Substances Nos.1-35 in the list above
7. It is proposed that these thirty-five substances should be added to the list of controlled drugs in Part I of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act as Class A drugs. This is the highest tier of classification in the Act and its effect amongst other things will be that their unlawful possession and supply will attract maximum penalties of seven years and life imprisonment respectively or an unlimited fine or both.
8. As the 35 substances have no acknowledged therapeutic uses the Secretary of State proposes to use his powers under section 7(4) of the 1971 Act to designate them as drugs in relation to which it is in the public interest that their production, supply and possession should be unlawful except for the purposes of research or other special purposes carried out under licence of the Secretary of State. This will be achieved by adding them to the list of drugs specified in the Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs (Designation) Order 1986. Along with other drugs in this category, they will be included in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1985.
Substance No.36 in the list above - alpha -methylphenethylhydroxylamine (or N-hydroxyamphetamine)
9. It is proposed that alpha -methylphenethylhydroxylamine (or N-hydroxyamphetamine) should be added to the list of controlled drugs in Part II of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act as a Class B drug. This is the middle tier of classification in the Act and its effect amongst other things will be that its unlawful possession and supply will attract maximum penalties of five years and fourteen years imprisonment respectively or an unlimited fine or both.
10. alpha -methylphenethylhydroxylamine (or N-hyroxyamphetamine) will also be included in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1985. Appropriate licences will be required by persons not already authorised by the Regulations to possess, supply or produce Schedule 2 drugs. Licences will also be required for import and export. The unlicensed production, supply, possession and import/export of the drug will be unlawful. It will also be subject to the prescription writing (including handwriting) requirements, full record-keeping requirements, the destruction requirements and to the safe storage requirements of the Misuse of Drugs (Safe Custody) Regulations 1973.
Impact of legislation on business
11. It is not expected that the proposed legislation would have anything other than a very minor impact on the pharmaceutical trade or practitioners. Thirty-five of the substances do not have acknowledged therapeutic uses; and the final substance, a -methylphenethylhydroxylamine (or N-hydroxyamphetamine), does not currently have a marketing authorisation as a medicine in the UK.
12. In considering these proposals, the Government would be glad to hear from business how it views the likely impact of the proposal, particularly on small businesses. In giving your views on the proposals described in this letter, it would be helpful if you could identify and quantify any additional direct or indirect costs (recurring and non-recurring) that would be likely to arise.
13. Subject to consideration of any comments submitted in response to this consultation letter, the Secretary of State proposes to lay the necessary legislative instruments before Parliament later this
year to effect the changes.
14. It is also proposed that the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1985 should be consolidated at the same time. The 1985 Regulations have been amended 8 times since 1985 and currently take the form of 9 separate documents which makes them unwieldy to use in practice. It is therefore proposed that the 1985 Regulations and subsequent amendments should be consolidated into one document in order to make them easier for the police, the courts, the pharmaceutical trade etc to use.
15. We should be glad to receive any comments by Friday 18 September. These should be addressed to:- Miss Sue Mitchell, Action Against Drugs Unit, Room 243, Home Office, 50 Queen Annes Gate, London SW1H 9AT.
16. If you have any queries about this letter, please contact either Miss Sue Mitchell on 020 7273-3474 or me on 020 7273-4131 and we will be glad to help you.
Action Against Drugs Unit
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