UK crystal meth users face up to 7 years for possession

January 19, 2007

Story by UK Gay News

LONDON — As of January 18, methamphetamine, commonly known as crystal meth, is reclassified in the UK as a “Class A” drug and users face the severest penalties possible in a bid to avoid its widespread use.

The drug, which is starting to become popular in the gay community, leads – when smoked or injected – to a “high” similar to crack cocaine. But the “high” is longer-lasting and more damaging.

It can quickly become addictive and lead to depression, paranoia, violent behaviour, kidney failure and internal bleeding.

Crystal meth is now classed among the most harmful drugs. Those who take it can face up to seven years in jail for possession, and up to life for those who manufacture or deal it.

As a Class A drug, it is now the focus of more intelligence led operations to thwart supply and bust laboratories.

Also known as ice, Nazi crank and yabba, crystal meth smoking can also ruin a person’s appearance through “meth mouth”, which is characterised by chronic rotting of teeth and gums.

The reclassification of Crystal meth, announced by the Home Office on June 14 last year following advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, is part of a strategy to reduce the harm caused by drug taking through education, enforcement and treatment.

Thanks to the Ł7.5 billion invested by the Government in tackling drugs since 1998, record numbers of people are now receiving drug treatment, up 89 per cent in the last eight years.

Drug treatment cuts crime: for every Ł1 spent on treatment almost Ł10 is saved in crime and health costs.

“Crystal meth is a very harmful drug but fortunately it is not widespread in the UK,” Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker MP said last night.

“However, we know from the experiences of other countries that it has the potential to ruin the lives of individuals and their families. We cannot afford to be complacent.

“Reclassification is a precautionary measure that helps to ensure crystal meth does not gain a foothold in the UK.

“It becomes a higher priority for police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. I believe tougher penalties send a strong message that dealing and making crystal meth will not be tolerated,” Mr. Coaker added.

“I am fully committed to the drugs strategy that is reducing the harm caused by drugs and which has put 181,000 people into drug treatment.

“This, combined with tough penalties, has helped to contribute to a 16 per cent fall in acquisitive crime over two years up to March 2006.”

The reclassification of Crystal meth as a Class A drug has been welcomed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

“ACPO is very pleased that methamphetamine is being reclassified,” said Commander Simon Bray of the Metropolitan Police and the ACPO “lead” for Methamphetamine

“Whilst we are not suggesting that methamphetamine has become a major problem in the UK, we have seen how this drug has developed in other countries and the terrible harms it has caused.

“Reclassifying the drug sends a strong signal that we are determined to stop it from getting a firm foothold here in the UK.

“It also gives us some important new tools with which to clamp down on those who might be tempted to import methamphetamine or produce it locally.

“The health and safety consequences to local communities caused by those producing this substance are great. Added to this, links to criminality are of great concern. The police service is determined to deal with those involved in Class A drugs,” Mr. Bray pointed out.

The Terrence Higgins Trust, the leading charity in UK for gay men’s health, called the reclassification a “pragmatic move” that brings crystal meth in line with other drugs of this nature.

“Experiences from other parts of the world show us that crystal meth can have a detrimental effect on communities as well as the lives of individuals,” said Will Nutland, the Trust’s head of health promotion.

“This decision increases the powers and resources available to the police and enables them to do more to tackle crystal meth use in the UK.

“However, reclassification needs to come hand in hand with funding for education and effective treatment services,” he pointed out.

Bill Hughes, the director general of the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) also welcomed today’s reclassification.

“This change will heighten the awareness of this very dangerous drug and the serious implications it has not only for users but also for anyone who comes into contact with it.

“SOCA will continue to work closely with the Home Office and our law enforcement partners to reduce the harm caused by methamphetamine. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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