Issue: The banning of the drug mephedrone (also known as Miaow Miaow)
1. What scientific claims are made about this issue?
In March of this year the British Home Secretary announced that Mephedrone would be classified as a Class B drug (Home Office, 2010) following recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)(2010). This decision led to a number of scientists resigning from the ACMD (Doward, 2010) including Eric Carlin whose resignation letter claims the decisions made were ‘ unduly based on media and political pressure’(Carlin, 2010). This media pressure included a campaign by The Sun newspaper (Hartley, 2010). The Lancet (2010) claim that the report was still in its draft stage, included little evidence on the effects of the drug and was still being discussed by the ACMD when presented to the Home Secretary.
2. What means of communication were used in your example?
Press release on the website of the home office
Home Office (2010) ‘Home Secretary bans Mephedrone’ homeoffice.gov.uk [Online] Available from: http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/news-events/latest-news/home-secretary-bans-mephedrone (Accessed: 25 April 2010)
Doward, J. (2010) ‘Mephedrone row grows as seventh member of drugs panel quits’ Guardian Online 4 April [Online] Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/04/eric-carlin-mephedrone-classification (Accessed: 25 April 2010)
Blog Post of Eric Carlin including his letter of resignation
Carlin, E. (2010) ‘My ACMD resignation letter to the Home Secretary’ Eric Carlin’s blog [Online] Available from: http://ericcarlin.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/my-acmd-resignation-letter-to-the-home-secretary/ (Accessed: 25 April 2010)
Report by the ACMD
ACMD (2010) Consideration of the Cathinones [Online] Available from: http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/publication-search/acmd/acmd-cathinodes-report-2010?view=Binary (Accessed: 25 April 2010)
The Lancet (2010) ‘A collapse in integrity of scientific advice in the UK’ The Lancet [Online] Available from: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60556-9/fulltext (Accessed: 25 April 2010)
Hartley, C. (2010) ‘Two-week race to ban meow meow’ The Sun 30 March [Online] Available from: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2913013/Two-week-race-to-ban-killer-drug-meow-meow.html (Accessed: 25 April 2010)
3. Do you consider this scientific controversy to have been resolved?
This controversy has not been resolved as there still appears to be a lack of evidence on the effects of this drug. This incident also highlights an ongoing issue of the Government making decisions based on media pressure rather than the advice of scientists.