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U.K. increases
penalties for crystal meth

U.K. increases
penalties for crystal meth

The crystal methamphetamine debate has raged in the United Kingdom for nearly a decade.

Not willing to take any risks, the Home Office has reclassified the drug from Class B to Class A. This now puts it in the same bracket as heroin and cocaine, meaning users face up to seven years in jail for possession while dealers and manufacturers may get life.

The drug, also known as "Tina," "crank," "crack," and "ice," has proved devastating to gays in the United States and Australia. It's viewed by many as responsible for destroying the club scene in major cities, and it is notoriously linked to unsafe sex and unrelenting addiction.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said, "We know from the experiences of other countries that it has the potential to ruin the lives of individuals and their families. Crystal meth would be an awful drug were it to take root in this country; it would have a devastating impact on individuals; it would have a devastating impact on communities.

"We know it hasn't happened yet; we want to keep it that way. Reclassification is a precautionary measure that helps to ensure crystal meth does not gain a foothold in the U.K. I believe tougher penalties send a strong message that dealing and making crystal meth will not be tolerated."

Both Rufus Wainwright and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas have admitted to crystal problems in the past. Scissor Sisters wrote about the drug's effect on the New York City scene in their haunting Pink Floyd-esque number "Return to Oz."

The haunting lament features the lyrics "The grass is dead, the gold is brown, what once was Emerald City's now a crystal town." (Stewart Who?,

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