Government announces tougher powers to seize cutting agents

Plans to strengthen powers to seize substances used as ‘cutting agents’ for illegal drugs have been announced by the Home Office. Under the plans, enforcement agencies will have a general power to seize and destroy ‘any substance reasonably suspected of being intended for use’ as a cutting agent.

In 2012, more than 7 tonnes of the cutting agents benzocaine, lidocaine and phenacetin were seized, while the Home Office states that animal wormer levamisole has also been found in seized street drugs.

‘I am very concerned that, in order to maximise their profits, drug dealers are using cutting agents that may present a hazard to health,’ said crime prevention minister Norman Baker. ‘People taking these drugs are playing Russian roulette with their lives, as they have no idea what is in them. The action we are taking to enhance the powers available to police and law enforcement agencies will help combat this dangerous and reckless trade.’

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport has announced that the recommended driving limits for 16 drugs have been approved following two consultations (DDN, August 2013, page 5). It will be an offence to be over the prescribed limit for eight illegal drugs – including cocaine, cannabis and MDMA – and eight legal ones, including methadone, diazepam and temazepam, with the regulations to come into force in the autumn. An agreed limit on amphetamine will be added to the legislation at a later date, following consultation on the possible impact on people taking medicine for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

‘This new offence will make our roads safer for everyone by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs,’ said road safety minister Robert Goodwill. ‘It will also clarify the limits for those who take medication.’

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