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46th Maudsley Debate: the law's drug problem

On November 15th 2012, King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry collaborated with the Institute of Ideas for the first time to create a Maudsley Debate on the challenges associated with legal highs, novel psychoactive substances and less mainstream drugs. 

The police, parliamentarians, addictions psychiatrists, general practitioners, the voluntary sector and family members of those harmed by these drugs were represented. 

The podcast of the debate is now available on the Maudsley Debate Podcast page. 

A radical departure from the house style meant that there were five speakers, no polarised speeches and no vote. Despite the absence of a democratic voice the audience took part in a lively debate. 

In the preceding weeks, the ban of more synthetic cannabinoids and methoxetamine were announced, along with increased detection of deaths from mephedrone and the appearance of 57 new drugs within 11 months. 

Did the panel and audience find solutions to this fast changing situation? Listen for yourself, the constructive discourse fleshed out some promising ideas involving education, novel treatment services and adaptation of regulatory mechanisms. 

One thing was clear from all present. The continuation of the status quo cannot cope with the growing challenges of what one young journalism student in the audience dubbed a 'drug revolution'. 


Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chair, Faculty of Addictions, Royal College of Psychiatrists 

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, GP; Author, The Tyranny of Health: doctors and the regulation of lifestyle and Defeating Autism: a damaging delusion 

Tim Hollis, Chief Constable, Humberside Police; Chair, ACPO Drugs Committee 

Molly Meacher, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform; Former Chair, East London NHS Foundation Trust 

Chair: David Bowden, Coordinator, UK Battle Satellites; Poetry Editor, Culture Wars; TV Columnist, Spiked 

To find out more about the debate, please click here.