Misuse of Drugs Act
Legislative history

The ACMD recommends laying a temporary class drug order (TCDO): Methiopropamine (MPA): A review of the evidence of use and harm.

Personally, a TCDO would not be my first choice of things to lay, but to each his own. Methiopropamine (MPA), the legover drug-o’-the-day, is controlled as a Temporary Class Drug for one year.


“The majority of these substances and products were made the subject of temporary control by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Temporary Class Drug) Order 2015 (S.I. 2015/1027). This Order replaces that Order and lists two additional substances in paragraph 1 of the Schedule:”

  • 4-Methylmethylphenidate
  • Ethylnaphthidate

“Additionally, this Order makes provision for the control of the salt of a substance listed in the Schedule.”

I’ve added the emphasis to the line above—the actual text is more circumspect. The previous Order named five substances, this Order names seven substances and their salts. There could be several salt forms for each substance. Even allowing for a single salt form we’ve gone from exactly 5 to at least 14, rather neatly circumventing the meaning of majority.

“Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” (Judge Judy)


“New legislation [to] ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs.”

“The bill will make it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export psychoactive substances; that is, any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect. The maximum sentence will be 7 years&rsquuo; imprisonment.”

“The bill will exclude legitimate substances [sic. No bastards in this lot, no sir.] such as food, alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, caffeine and medical products, from the scope of the offence, as well as controlled drugs, which will continue to be regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.”


On the advice of the ACMD report Methylphenidate-based NPS: A review of the evidence of use and harm the following substances are controlled as Temporary Class Drugs for one year:

  • 3,4-Dichloromethylphenidate (3,4-DCMP)
  • Ethylphenidate
  • Isopropylphenidate (IPP; IPPD)
  • Methylnaphthidate (HDMP-28)
  • Propylphenidate

MT-45 and 4,4′-DMAR become Class A drugs.


This beleaguered amendment, twice revised, staggers in the new year before collapsing into force.

Ever compliant, sales of the newly scheduled LSD analogues AL-LAD and LSZ cease at once, replaced by the unscheduled substance 1-Propionyl-LSD (1P-LSD) an analogue hitherto unknown—even, apparently, to the ACMD.

Outwitted again by that… fiend, that chemical mastermind, the Kekulé of crime, Professor Moriarty.


The errors in the ACMD report which were duly transcribed into the draft legislation S.I. 2014/3271* (below) are noted and addressed in an Addendum to ACMD’s report on tryptamines. However, it also contains mistakes.

The substance formerly known only 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). [bold added]

Few, I think, would classify ALD-52 as a “tryptamine,” despite it being a substructure of ALD-52. Worse, tryptamine has two nitrogen atoms and either might reasonably be intended in this context. If anything, the “tryptamine nitrogen” would more likely be taken to mean the terminal acyclic nitrogen, a misdirection in this case.

The structural diagram for ALD-52 in Figure 6(a) is incorrect, depicting the acetyl group attached to the wrong nitrogen, perhaps the result of the misdirection described above. The correct structure, with the acetyl affixed to N1 (i.e. the nitrogen of the indole substructure) appears as Revised Figure 6(a) in the addendum.

Every one of the five systematic names listed is incorrect. Some have multiple errors. They do not describe any existing or even possible structure. They defy parsing by the freely available Open Parser for Systematic IUPAC nomenclature (OPSIN), the best of its kind, often able to intuit a structure from even a malformed name.

OPSIN coder extraordinaire Daniel Lowe has his work cut out for him.


“Report of the new psychoactive substances expert panel appointed to undertake a 6-month review of available evidence on the UK’s and other countries’ approaches to the threat posed by NPS, and to advise the government on ways to enhance the UK’s response.”


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 citing any evidence whatsoever).

The UK Government is acting on the advice of the ACMD. One might hope 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 Update of the Generic Definition for Tryptamines; not-so-subtle mistakes that seem to have—and not for the first time—escaped their collective scrutiny.

For instance, the report recommends ALD-52 be made a Class A controlled substance along with four other obscure code names utterly without meaning to all but the slimmest fraction of readers. Perhaps one person in 500,000 has heard of ALD-52, fewer still could draw the structure from memory.

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


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 describe as 2-ethylamino, the correct name for something else entirely) 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 claimed:

“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 controlled substances via temporary class drug order as per section 2A(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.


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 ACMD advice and their report Consideration of Desoxypipradrol (2-DPMP) and related pipradrol compounds

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 Class C benzodiazepines.

The ACMD report proposes a generic control to capture Desoxypipradrol and a countable infinity of similar substances.


This Act amends the Misuse 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.” [emphasis added]

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


This Order makes Tapentadol a Class A drug, and Amineptine a Class C drug.

The Order also removes 4-Methylmethcathinone from the list of Class B drugs by revoking SI20101207">S.I. 2010/1207, the original Order making it a Class B drug. Nevertheless, 4-Methylmethcathinone# retains its Class B status, captured by the generic definition of paragraph 1(aa).

See ACMD letter on tapentadol and Amineptine advice for more on the nature of these substances and how other jurisdictions have responded.


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


This Order defines a further group of Generic Cathinones including Naphthylpyrovalerone (Naphyrone) as Class B drugs

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


This Order makes 4-Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone) a Class B substance, one of a countable infinity of new Class B cathinones.

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


This Order adds a raft of new substances to the Act. See explanatory memorandum


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 Order brings into force those provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 not already in force, with effect from 1 Jul 1973.

S.I. 1971/2120

This Order brings into force Sections 1, 32, 35, 37, 38, 40 and Schedule 1 of The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on 1 Feb 1972.


The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was proclaimed into force in two stages: On 1 Feb 1972 via SI19712120">S.I. 1971/2120 and on 1 Jul 1973 via S.I. 1972/795.

7 December 2015 · Creative Commons BY-NC-SA ·