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Page last updated at 07:54 GMT, Saturday, 3 April 2010 08:54 UK

Drugs advisory body 'in deep trouble'

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A former government drugs adviser has said that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is "in deep trouble" following the government's pledge to ban mephedrone.

Eric Carlin, who resigned from the body yesterday, told Today programme presenter John Humphrys that, although mephedrone "is a dangerous drug", the council did not have proper evidence or time to consider a ban.

And he added that he did not even see briefing papers on the matter before the decision was taken and that the Home Secretary "was doing press conferences before we had even considered all the recommendations".

Mr Carling said that he hoped that any incoming government will look at the role of expert advisers as well as at the whole drugs classification system and that drugs should be dealt with "as a public health issue and not primarily as a criminal justice issue".

"We need to get to the root course of why 14 and 15 year-olds are getting off their faces," he said.

And Professor Colin Blakemore, a former head of the Medical Research Council, warned against disbanding the council, as "decisions about the legality of drugs and the classification of drugs is being made essentially by politicians and red-top newspapers".

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