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Third-generation cannabinoids will be class B drugs from 14th December
The cannabinoid ban is fucking insane when you actually start looking at the kind of innocuous stuff it bans.

This is a recent research paper that has nothing at all to do with cannabinoids: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24049147). It looks at thromboxane receptor antagonists and their effect on the prostate. One of these TXA-2R antagonists is an obscure compound called L-665,240 (https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/122070) It's mostly used in research. Here is is available from a chemical supplier in the UK (https://www.tocris.com/dispprod.php?ItemId=65306) (this is the legit kind of chemical supplier, not the kind we might fondly recall as selling us legal drugs)

To be a class B drug under the cannabinoid ban a compound must have the general structure of JWH-018 and the way that the chemical groups are replaced must be limited to certain structures. L-664,240 has the indole core of JWH-018, a methylene bridge, a phenyl head and a methyl tail. There's some monovalent substitutions as well - the indole is monovalently substituted in the 5 position with fluorine and in the 2 position with dimethylpropanoic acid, while the phenyl head has a chlorine substituted on the 4 position of that ring.

Ah, but niamh, you say, you're trying to trick us. We can see that the methylene bridge is on the nitrogen of the indole instead of the 3 position where it would be in JWH-018 and the stubby little methyl tail is on the 3 position not the nitrogen. Well yes, but the ACMD defined structurally related in such a way that these groups can be switched (in fact, as long as they're both somewhere on a five-membered ring, they consider the compound to be 'structurally related'. So, it should be clear that it meets the intended definition that the new cannabinoid ban uses.

This compound's probably hanging around in the labs of lots of researchers who may have used it as a thromboxane antagonist at some point over the last decade. Thromboxane antagonists aren't abusable, they're not compounds that have hitherto required any licences to work with. L-664,240 is not a cannabinoid as far as I know. Nobody has ever abused it. The people who use it in research have no reason to suspect they would need a Home Office licence to store it (and comply with the regulations that will require strict, auditable control over how it's stored and accessed). In less than 3 weeks, these researchers will very probably be committing a criminal offence.

This is one compound - I found it by searching on one of the 1.8= million base structures in PubChem and looking through the results. It took about 20 minutes. There are, in all probability, hundreds if not thousands of these kinds of chemicals - obscure things used in research recently enough for people to have some stored away for the next time a phD student is working on obscure problem X and needs a ligand of whatever bloody receptor they're working on.)

That's why this law is stupid. Accidentally criminalising hundreds of people working with chemicals that are just similar enough to cannabinoids to be captured by the ACMD's ham-fisted punch-drunk spinning roundhouse of a definition is fucking idiotic. In order to criminalise a class of chemicals that are a) already illegal as psychoactive drugs under the PSA and b) have a very low fatality rate - substantially lower than alcohol is in the same age-group.

But since none of the politicians who currently have any power give a shit about laws making sense or details like the rule-of-law, this is all besides the point. Nobody else gives a fuck about this stuff, apparently. It's not even been reported anywhere but here, By me. The Home Office haven't even put out a press-release, probably because they're under the impression that it only affects scum like us who use drugs.

This was the delagated legislation committee debate on the amendment that scheduled these cannabinoids (and many non-cannabinoids. The purpose of these debates is to act as a check that the government is staying within the bounds of law that enable them to amend legislation by statutory instrument rather than having to go through a full parliamentary process.

The debate makes for depressing reading. They didn't really debate the amendment, probably because they didn't understand it. Instead they talked about the PSA and the lack of drug education. But a couple of 'highlights':

Quote:Sarah Newton (Parliamentary under-secretary for the Home department): "We have made specific exemptions in the order for cannabinoids used in medicinal products and some controlled drugs."

No, you haven't. The exempted substances are:

clonitazene and etonitazene (class A opioids)
acemetacin, indometacin and proglumetacin (anti-inflammatories)
atorvastatin (a widely precribed cholesterol lowering drug, AKA Lipitor), bazedoxifene (a selective estrogen modulator),
losartan, olmesartan, telmisartan (angiotensin II receptor antagonists used for treating high blood-pressure)
viminol (a novel opioid)
zafirlukast (a leukotrine receptor antagonist used to treat asthma)

This isn't super-secret information - the ACMD's letter back in January includes a handy table outlining most of this.

None of the exempted products are cannabinoids - they do not act at the cannabinoid receptors in any significant way. They merely happen to be captured by the definition the ACMD are using. To misunderstand this shows a fundamental lack of understanding about the scope of the definition that the ACMD proposed.

Quote:Sarah Newton: Our approach to drugs must continue to be proportionate, informed by evidence of harm and ACMD advice, and characterised by a balanced response. The ACMD’s advice today is precisely that: it is proportionate and appropriate to control these emerging drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. We are acting on that advice and will continue to do so.

Is banning ~1.8m base structures and their infinite monovalently substituted derivatives really 'proportionate', 'balanced' or 'appropriate'?

Quote:We really are leading the world in this area. One only needs to look at the data that clearly show the number of people across all age groups, particularly young people, who are no longer tempted to take drugs. We have seen really good evidence and data to show that fewer people are taking drugs and, indeed, alcohol.

Lies. One does not only need to look at the data. One - sorry, let's drop the formality of the impersonal pronoun - you, yes, you our elected representatives charged with the responsibility of understanding the things you legislate on, need to understand the data and think about what it actually means rather than simply assuming that it tells you what you wish to believe is true. Here, let me help you out.

[Image: 4veZuQt.png]

That shows how the falling numbers of amphetamine users distort the statistics to make it appear like much more of a reduction in drug use has happened. Where have they gone? Well, over the last 20 years the number of ADHD diagnoses in both young people and adults have increased hugely. What appears to be happening, is that people who used to obtain stimulant drugs illicitly to self-medicate their ADHD are now obtaining their stimulant drugs by prescription and therefore - while still being stimulant-drug users - have disappeared from the drug misuse statistics. Sure, some reduction in overall use has still occurred, but very little over the last five years and current rates of drug use look a lot like the rates of drug use in 1996 when we started to collect statistics on this.

Do you see, elected representative, how thinking about the data and making an effort to understand how it can be explained provides us with a clearer idea of what it means? What it means is this: You are only leading the world in bullshit.

Lest anyone think I'm overstating my case when it comes to amphetamine users moving from illicit stimulant use to prescribed ADHD medications, there's some useful data in the recent paper:

Prescribing trends of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications in UK primary care, 1995-2015. Renoux C, Shin JY, Dell'Aniello S, Fergusson E, Suissa S. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2016 Sep;82(3):858-68.

Using the age-stratified prescription rates given for 2000 and 2014, it's possible to use the England and Wales population estimates to estimate the number of older teens and adults (15-45) receiving ADHD medication and compare this to the estimated fall in amphetamine users over the same years. The data isn't perfectly matched (the drug use prevalence data starts at 16 not 15), but that's unlikely to have a large effect on the numbers because the prevalence data is provided by people aged 16 or over at the time they complete the survey - so 16 year olds interviewed will be reporting on past year use, which will on average include half their 15th year.

Adult ADHD prescription recipients:

2000: 17,500
2014: 443,081

Illicit amphetamine users:

2000: 646.729
2014: 197,864

How does this compare?

443,081 - 17,500 = 425,581 additional adult ADHD medication recipients between 2000 and 2014
646,729 - 197,864 = 448,865 fewer illicit amphetamine users between 2000 and 2014

Oh look, an almost perfect match.

*mic drop*
Oh look, I was completely right about everything. The ACMD just published its interim advice to the Home Office regarding the facilitation of legitimate research on controlled drugs and it includes the following case study:

Quote:Case study: 3rd generation synthetic cannabinoids

The ACMD published advice on the third generation of synthetic cannabinoids in December 2014. This advice recommended a generic definition under the MDA, placing these compounds under Class B of the MDA due to the harms and widespread availability and under Schedule 1 of the MDR, as the ACMD could not confirm any medicinal uses identified at the time.

Following the implementation of the advice, representatives of the research community informed the ACMD that the broad scope of the generic definition had captured a large number of research compounds and a limited number of potential medicinal drugs, some of which are not likely to be CB1 agonists.

By capturing a larger number of compounds, the research institutions are now in a position where they must ensure compliance with the additional requirements of the Schedule 1 Misuse of Drugs Regulations for these now controlled compounds. Unintended consequen ces reported by the research community have included:

* Many more compounds now under the scope of the MDR
* Additional regulatory and logistical burden on industry
* Lack of awareness and difficulties with enforcement
ACMD, Legitimate use of controlled drugs: research and healthcare, 22nd December, 2017

This is almost exactly what I said over a year ago, before the ban came into force.
The correlation between the rise in prescribed stimulants and fall in illicit amphetamine use is fascinating. Is there any data on the prescription of stimulants for other indication, for example narcolepsy (modafinil first line, amphetamine for adults, methylphenidate for kids in a bizarre twist of the licencing for ADHD) and (off-label) treatment resistant depression?

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