Video | Wednesday, 14th November 2018

Drug research cited in parliamentary debate on reclassification of Spice

Watch Dr Rob Ralphs' research in prisons and among homeless population be quoted by SNP MP

A University academic’s research has been extensively cited in a parliamentary debate on the reclassification of synthetic cannabinoid drugs.

Dr Rob Ralphs, Reader in Criminology, is an expert in emerging drug market trends, particularly the rapid growth of a group of formerly legal highs commonly referred to as Spice.

Together with colleagues in Manchester Metropolitan University’s Substance Abuse and Addictive Behaviour research group, he has led the way over recent years in understanding harms to users and frontline services caused by the drugs.

A backbench Westminster Hall debate (November 6) was called to consider the reclassification of synthetic cannabinoids to Class A drugs.

During the debate, Ronnie Cowan, the Scottish National Party MP for Inverclyde, quoted extensively from Dr Ralphs’ contribution to drugs policy think tank Volteface’s report arguing against potential reclassification.

He said: “Dr Rob Ralphs, a senior lecturer in criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University, has researched Spice in prisons and within the homeless community in the city.

“He believes that making Spice Class A will make no real difference to its use, but may make the situation worse.

“While the market for Spice is, at present, relatively stable with four or five different strains of the drug in circulation, he said its potential reclassification could drive innovation, leading to new strains being developed to circumvent it, as has happened in the past.

“The report further quotes Dr Ralphs: ‘Every time there’s been a change in the law, the next generation…has been even stronger… The big thing is why the homeless and prison populations are using it in the first place. It’s about putting money into engaging people into treatment services and trying to reduce the market. If you can reduce the market, the demand for it, then you will reduce it.’”

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