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Wednesday, August 12, 1998 Published at 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK


Health

Drugs added to banned lists

The government is seeking to clamp down on designer drugs

The government is to ban 36 ecstasy-type drugs in a bid to get tough on designer drugs.

The Home Office is to announce that 35 psychedelic drugs should become Class A drugs.

This is the most serious category of drugs and includes heroin and cocaine.

People found guilty of possessing the drugs will face maximum prison sentences of seven years and an unlimited fine or both.

Those found guilty of supplying the drugs could face life imprisonment and/or a huge fine.

The other drug, N-hydroxyamphetamine, will be a Class B drug. Possession will mean up to five years in jail and supply up to 14 years.

Psychodelic drugs

The drugs are listed in Pihkal, an acronym for 'Phenethylamines I have Known and Loved', an infamous 1991 book on psychodelic drugs by US scientists Alexander and Ann Shulgin.

Available on the internet, it is credited with boosting the popularity of ecstasy. Alexander Shulgin is himself known as the "stepfather of ecstasy".

Many drugs in the book are already Class A drugs in the UK, but the government is seeking to clamp down further.

The move follows a number of high profile teenage deaths from Ecstasy, most recently 18-year-old fitness instructor Julia Dawes from Perth.

She was buried on Tuesday.

Responsibility

Home Office Minister George Howarth said: "We all know the dangers of ecstasy and the government has a responsibility to do all it can to prevent more of these types of substances from being launched onto the illicit market."

He acknowledged that there was little evidence that the 36 drugs were being used in the UK, but he said: "These measures will slam the stable door firmly shut before the horse has bolted."

Recent studies of young people have shown a big increase in drug misuse. A report from the Institute of Child Health last year found that teenage deaths from drugs had increased by 8% a year between 1985 and 1995.

The government has also announced plans to streamline the Misuse of Drugs Act, saying it has become "unwieldy" because it has been amended eight times since it was passed in 1985.



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