Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker confirmed the rumours at a meeting of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee after the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended the move last week.
Mr Coaker said: “”Countries have to decide how to respond to a drug when it has no significant prevalence but potential for serious social problems. Methylamphetamine is a very substantial problem in many countries outside the European Union (EU) but not within it. Reports that the United Kingdom (UK) is on the verge of a crystal meth explosion have been repeated for some years but to date there has been no reliable evidence to support this.
“However, international experience shows it has the potential to be extremely damaging to individuals, families and communities. It is on this basis that the ACMD recommend we reclassify it, fully supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and we accept their advice.”
Crystal meth is a popular clubbing drug with the gay community, also known as ‘tina’, ‘krank’ or ‘ice’, the ease of production and euphoric effects have ensured dramatic escalation of the drug’s distribution worldwide.
Users experience a temporary sense of supreme confidence, alertness and have an increased perception of self-attractiveness. On the other hand it also delivers paranoia, agitation and violence in some individuals.
The increased arousal fuels users to completely abandon safe sex whilst involving themselves with multiple partners, many of whom are HIV+.
Simon Bray, ACPO lead on methylamphetamine and Commander in the Metropolitan Police Service, said: “ACPO is pleased that on the advice of ACMD, the Home Secretary has decided that methylamphetamine is to be reclassified as a Class A drug.
“The serious and well documented dangers associated with production and use of this drug in all its forms will now be substantially easier to combat as a result of this reclassification. It will also become possible to close down, for long periods, premises used as illicit ‘meth’ laboratories (a power for Class A drugs only). As a result of this change, police forces will now include methylamphetamine within their Class A enforcement strategies and people will be deterred by the penalties for making, dealing or using methylamphetmine.”
Will Nutland, Head of Health Promotion, Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The reclassification of Crystal Meth is a pragmatic move and brings it 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. 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.”