Misuse of Drugs Act
Legislative history
[Draft] Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014 (2nd ed., with corrections)

[Draft] Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2014 (later withdrawn and replaced by a somewhat less incoherent version)

A proposal to criminalize anyone who may have, take or sell AH-7921; an infinite number of tryptamines (of which an infinite number are not known to exist); and some ‘LSD related’ compounds (despite any evidence whatsoever).

The UK Government is acting on the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). One might presume the ACMD, being a hand-picked group of seasoned professionals, would have this process down cold by now. This is criminal law they’re crafting after all.

So it’s disquieting to find errors in the ACMD report, and not for the first time. Pretty elementary mistakes that got past whoever among them edits their copy.

For instance, the report recommends “ALD-52” be made a Class A controlled substance, along with four other obscure initialisms utterly without meaning to all but the tiniest fraction of readers. Perhaps one person in 50,000 has heard of ALD-52, fewer still could draw the structure from memory. I certainly could not. There is a reason the rulebook for organic chemical nomenclature runs over 1500 pages.

The structural diagram thoughtfully provided for ALD-52 is incorrect, and not by a little. Rather counterproductive for an amendment alleging to clarify an existing ambiguity in the law.

These errors have been noted and addressed in an addendum to ACMD’s report. However, it also contains mistakes. The substance formerly known as ALD-52 is now described as

(6aR,9R)-4-acetyl-N,N-diethyl-7-methyl-4,6,6a,7,8,9-hexahydroindolo[5,4,3-fg]quinoline-9-carboxamide (‘ALD-52’) (LSD with an acetyl group on the tryptamine nitrogen) [emphasis added]

By no stretch could ALD-52 be called a tryptamine although one can envision tryptamine as a substructure of ALD-52. Still, tryptamine has two nitrogen atoms, and either might reasonably be intended in this context. Indeed, the mistaken structure supplied originally does precisely that, depicting the acetyl group attached to the wrong “tryptamine” nitrogen. Likely they meant on the indole nitrogen.

Every one of the five systematic names listed is incorrect. Some have multiple errors. I’m not talking about a dropped hyphen or inappropriate italics; these names cannot be parsed and do not describe any existing or possible structure.

Perhaps it’s petty to pick on such trifles when many consider the entire process an elaborate charade and clear subversion of the original intent. In any case, this sort of nonsense is hard to swallow when a person’s liberty may be taken away because the ACMD disapproves of what he or she swallows.


“Khat” (i.e. “the leaves, stems or shoots of the plant of the species Catha edulis”) becomes a Class C drug 24 June 2014.


The final version of the draft amendment below.


This near-impenetrable omnibus amendment proposes to:

  • Add the N-benzyl analogues of any compound derived from pretty much everything in PiHKAL (but not N-Benzyl-MDA), including any and all benzyl substituents, to Class A. An infinity of substances.
  • Add benzofuran, indole and indane, along with their didehydro counterparts, with a 2-aminoethyl substituent (which they incorrectly cite as 2-ethylamino, a nonsensical name I think) at any phenyl position, including almost limitless additional substitution of the ring system and/or the 2-aminoethyl substituent, to Class B. Six more infinities.
  • Move Ketamine to Class B from Class C.
  • Add Lisdexamphetamine to Class B.
  • Add Tramadol, Zaleplon and Zopiclone to Class C.


A proposal to make “Khat” (i.e. “the leaves, stems or shoots of the plant of the species Catha edulis”) a Class C drug—contrary to the advice of the ACMD. Sporting of them to ask, though.


This Order names at least 10, probably 14, and possibly 18 new substances as Temporary Class Drugs, effective 10 June 2013.

Exclusive of stereoisomers or salts, the total depends on how one interprets “…and its N-methyl derivatives.” One could argue there is only a single N-methyl derivative. But given the plural “derivatives,” it’s not hard to imagine they mean to capture the N,N-dimethyl derivative as well.


The UK seems doggedly determined to circumvent reality. Recall when they first conjured up the idea of so-called “generic controls” for synthetic cannabinoids they imagined that…

“By using the generic definition provided by the ACMD, our controls will capture a range of agonists and therefore both current and future foreseeable trends.”

As has been pointed out elsewhere, there are at least 12 substances meant to be captured by this amendment that are already beyond its reach. Darn clever these agonists.


A proposal to control the following:

  • Synthetic cannabinoids
  • Methoxetamine and other compounds related to Ketamine and Phencyclidine
  • O-Desmethyltramadol, a metabolite of the prescription drug Tramadol

To fully grasp the magnitude of this proposal (i.e. infinite), careful study of these finite ACMD reports is suggested: Further consideration of the synthetic cannabinoids, Methoxetamine report, 2012, and ACMD advice on O-Desmethyltramadol.


This Order specifies 2-(Ethylamino)-2-(3-methoxyphenyl)cyclohexanone and related substances specified in article 2, commonly known as Methoxetamine, as drugs subject to temporary control under section 2A(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971


The Government will introduce a temporary class drug order on Methoxetamine following the ACMD’s initial advice. See Statement of evidence—Methoxetamine


The Home Office bans the importation of Diphenylprolinol and Diphenylmethylpyrrolidine, as advised by the ACMD. See Further advice on Diphenylprolinol (D2PM) and Diphenylmethylpyrrolidine.


The psychoactive substance Desoxypipradrol (2-DPMP) and its related compounds are to be classified as Class B drugs. The move follows advice from the ACMD (see Desoxypipradrol (2-DPMP) advice) .

An order making the substance illegal will be put before Parliament this autumn. The order will also seek to make Phenazepam, also used as a ‘legal high’, a Class C drug along with other benzodiazepines.

The ACMD report proposes a generic control that includes Desoxypipradrol and a countable infinity of similar substances.


This Act amends the Misue of Drugs Act 1971 by granting the Secretary of State the power to make a temporary class drug order specifying any substance or product as a drug subject to temporary control of 12 months.

A large number of conditions and prerequisites must be met before such an order may be made, but in fact the bar is not very high. Consider this condition:

“…the Secretary of State can only proceed to make the order if it appears that the drug is one that is being, or is likely to be, misused, and that misuse is having, or is capable of having, harmful effects.” [italics added]

Is there a way to “misuse” a drug that ensures absolute safety? Just asking.

Imports of Phenazepam (sometimes termed fenazepam) (7-bromo-5-(2-chlorophenyl)-1,3-dihydro-2H-1,4-benzodiazepin-2-one)

The Home Office bans the importation of Phenazepam, as advised by the ACMD. See Phenazepam advice.


This Order adds Tapentadol to Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (the “1971 Act”) which specifies drugs which are subject to control as Class A drugs under that Act, and adds Amineptine to Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act which specifies drugs which are subject to control as Class C drugs under that Act.

This Order also removes 4-Methylmethcathinone from paragraph 1(a) of Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the 1971 Act which specifies drugs which are subject to control as Class B drugs under that Act—4-Methylmethcathinone will though fall within paragraph 1(aa)—and revokes paragraph (a) of article 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2010.

The “ACMD letter on tapentadol” and “ACMD letter on amineptine” provide an explanation of the nature of these substances and how other jurisdictions have responded.

Imports of Desoxypipradrol (2-DPMP, 2-Benzhydrylpiperidine, 2-Diphenylmethylpiperidine)

The Home Office bans the importation of Desoxypipradrol, as advised by the ACMD. See Desoxypipradrol (2-DPMP) advice.


This Order adds a further group of Cathinone quasi-analogues, including Naphthylpyrovalerone (Naphyrone), to Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which specifies drugs which are subject to control as Class B drugs under that Act.

The ACMD report “Consideration of the naphthylpyrovalerone analogues and related compounds” ostensibly provides the rationale.


The Order adds 4-Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone) as a Class B substance, one of a countable inifinity of new Class B Cathinone analogues.

The ACMD report, “Consideration of the cathinones” is well worth reading.


Adds a raft of new substances to the MDA 1971. This explanatory memorandum may be helpful.


This Order brings section 21 of the Drugs Act 2005 into force on 18 July 2005.


The Drugs Act 2005 came into force in several stages. The section outlawing Fungus (of any kind) which contains Psilocin or an ester of Psilocin came into force 18 July 2005 via S.I. 2005/1650.


The named PiHKAL substances not covered by the generic definition introduced by S.I. 1977/1243. Curiously, one seems to have been missed: PiHKAL #167, 4T-MMDA-2.

See L. A. King, Forensic Chemistry of Substance Misuse: A Guide to Drug Control, RSC Publishing, Cambridge, 2009


The PiHKAL and TiHKAL generic amendments. Odd that “alkylthio” is not included in the list of ring substituents. Are the 2C-T series caught by the “other univalent substituent” clause? It seems almost deliberately inconsistent.

S.I. 1973/795

This brings into force those provisions of the MDA 1971 which are not already in force, with effect from 1 Jul 1973.

S.I. 1971/2120

This brings into force Sections 1, 32, 35, 37, 38, 40 of and Schedule 1 to the MDA 1971, with effect from 1 Feb 1972.


The Misue of Drugs Act 1971 was proclaimed into force in two stages: On 1 Feb 1972 via S.I. 1971/2120 and on 1 Jul 1973 via S.I. 1972/795.

Updated 31 December 2014 · This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License ·