HC Deb 01 March 1999 vol 326 cc559-60W
Ms Kelly

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will list the occasions on which gammahydroxybutyrate has been referred to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs; and what representations have been made on its use; [72902]

(2) what criteria are applied in determining whether the degree of abuse of a drug and the social consequences arising from its misuse are sufficient to warrant (a) the banning of the drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and (b) other Government action. [72903]

Mr. George Howarth

Representations have periodically been made since 1994 for the control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 of gammahydroxybutyrate. In total, eight Parliamentary Questions have been answered in this House and nine letters from Members.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which is established under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to advise the Government on drug misuse issues, has considered the misuse of gammahydroxybutyrate on three occasions—in May 1994 shortly after the drug first appeared as a drug of misuse in this country; in November 1996; and in May 1998.

Section 1 of the 1971 Act provides that the Council has a duty to keep under review drugs which are being or appear likely to be misused and of which the misuse is having to appear capable of having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem; and to give to Ministers advice on measures (whether or not involving alteration of the law) to be taken for preventing the misuse of such drugs or dealing with social problems connected with their misuse.

When reviewing the misuse of a substance and deciding what measures should in its opinion be taken, the matters which the Council take into account include the substance's pharmacology; availability (including any existing controls on the substance); prevalence of misuse; effects on health; abuse liability; dependence potential; and therapeutic usefulness.

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