Control of drugs of abuse – Science vs Law

Science vs Law

Author: Emmanuel Nsiah Amoako
Centre for Forensic Science, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.

The control of drugs of abuse has become a bottleneck across the entire globe. This stems from the problems associated with the production of these drugs, their trafficking and then to the final consumption which produces its end effect on the user.

The influx of drugs of abuse can be linked to a battle between science and the law where the former utilizes the weakness in the latter to weaken it. ‘Designer drugs’, which have become the new trend in the market has posed a threat to the world. These drugs are produced to get around the law, in that, when an existing drug is prohibited by the law, the science just makes slight changes in the structure of the same drug to develop a new drug. This has been the trend and the question is; who is to be blamed? The blame can be pushed on the law in that, though the effect of the drug may not be fully understood, the mere fact that it is claimed to be abused because of its psychotropic effect drives for its control, forgetting about its important medicinal use. However, in response to that, novel drugs which might even cause harsher effects are produced from this same controlled drug which becomes more dangerous than its parent drug. What does this mean? Several amendments and clauses in the law to accommodate these new drugs lead to the production of more drugs to evade control.

Then who loses? It is sad to say that none of these fighters become the victim but rather the “innocent drug user”. Though the law is made to protect the user, the consumer does not see it as such and rather dances to the tune of the science, trying to get more high and higher with whatever comes out of the laboratory. What must the law do then? There is an adage in the Ghanaian local language that states “when the head of the snake is cut, the rest is a rope.” The law must use a generic definition (such as in the UK) rather than being specific on these drugs such that even the “unborn” drugs of these controlled drugs, with the intent of being released by the scientists, would even be prohibited before they are created.

Additionally, regulations rather than total prohibition could solve the trend of “designer drugs”. The law must establish regulations that could allow the drugs to be used conditionally, such as for research and on prescription. In this way, the scientist does not see him/herself as being ‘challenged’ by law to merit his/her anger of producing more harsher drugs.

©2016 Scientect e-mag | Volume 1 (1): A3

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