Newsbrief: British Ex-Minister Calls Ecstasy Law "An Ass" 12/13/02

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Labor Member of Parliament Chris Mullin, a former Home Office minister and current chair of the House of Commons home affairs committee, said on December 5 that ecstasy (MDMA) should be down-scheduled from a Class A to a Class B drug. When it comes to ecstasy, said Mullin, "the law is an ass."

Mullin added that the scientific evidence showed that ecstasy is not as harmful as heroin and crack cocaine -- other Class A drugs. Mullin also said that young people often "dabbled" in the popular drug. British drug observers estimate that a million young people take ecstasy every weekend there. According to the British government, 40 people died last year of ecstasy-related causes, compared to 275,000 who died from smoking-related causes.

"Half of all young people at some stage dabble in drugs," he told the House committee. "I am of no doubt that drugs need to be categorized according to the degree of harmfulness, and as far as ecstasy is concerned... the science is clear. At present, the law is an ass."

Mullins' call for rescheduling ecstasy was seconded by former Tory cabinet minister Peter Lilley and Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes. But the Labor government of Prime Minister Tony Blair has rejected ecstasy rescheduling, arguing that the long-term consequences of using the drug remain unclear.

In doing so, the Blair government is ignoring the recent advice of one of its top drug experts. Professor David Nutt, a member of Blunkett's official drug advisory panel, went public last month with his belief that ecstasy should be down-scheduled. "One of the sad things is giving them the message that ecstasy is as dangerous as heroin," Nutt told the Independent.

"Millions of kids every week take ecstasy and it's actually a very safe drug. I'm fully signed up to it being class B." Nutt, head of clinical medicine at Bristol University, added: "It's clearly safer than heroin or crack but more dangerous than cannabis. Politics is never far away with ecstasy. I think the Home Secretary's decision to reclassify cannabis and not ecstasy was based on fear of public opinion [after the widely publicized death of teenager Leah Betts]."

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Issue #267, 12/13/02 DRCNet Needs Your Help! | Editorial: O, Canada! (Oh, the Embarrassment!) | Canadian House Drugs Committee Calls for Cannabis Decrim, Safe Injection Sites, Heroin Maintenance | Canadian Justice Minister Calls for Cannabis Decrim "Early Next Year" -- US Opposition Could Pose Obstacle | Britain Drops Old Drug Strategy Targets, Goals Were "Not Credible" -- New Strategy a Mixed Bag | Michigan Legislature Repeals Draconian Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences | New Jersey Court Declares State's Civil Forfeiture Funding Scheme Unconstitutional | Newsbrief: Santa Cruz Deputizes Medical Marijuana Providers | Newsbrief: Massachusetts High Court Blocks Arrest of Needle Exchange Participants | Newsbrief: Colombia -- It's Drug War -- No, Oil War -- No, Terror War | Newsbrief: British Ex-Minister Calls Ecstasy Law "An Ass" | Newsbrief: Israeli Green Leaf Party Eyes Knesset Seats | Newsbrief: Illinois Supreme Court Limits Use of Drug Dogs in Traffic Stops | Newsbrief: Paramilitary Drug Raid Tactics Anger Eugene Residents | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: SAMHSA Says Treat Drug Abusers' Mental Illness | Media and Resources: Medical Cannabis Conference Tapes, WOLA Report, Jacob Sullum in Reason, Deborah Saunders in SF Chronicle | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar

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