By Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard / Filter
Spurred by media panic around a so-called “chemsex crimewave,” the United Kingdom’s independent drug policy advisors are recommending that people involved with the highly stigmatized depressant gamma-hydroxybutyrate and related substances (GHB-RS) be subject to harsher criminal penalties.
But the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) did not make its recommendation to escalate punitive responses unanimously. An unspecified number of ACMD experts on the Technical Committee, which deliberated GHB-RS’s change in classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, objected. They warned that intensifying criminalization will only inflict, not reduce, harm—particularly for queer and trans people.
The ACMD was commissioned by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to investigate GHB-RS at the beginning of 2020—shortly after the conviction of, and ensuing media fixation on, a gay man of color for committing large-scale sexual violence that was allegedly facilitated by GHB-RS. On November 20, the ACMD published its assessment of the harms of GHB-RS and its recommendations in response.