Europe: British Drug Advisory Panel Recommends Downgrading Ecstasy, Government Says No

A pattern is beginning to emerge. For the second time in as many years, Britain's Labor government has rejected the evidence-based recommendations of the panel charged with crafting British drug policy to soften penalties for specific drugs. Last year, it was cannabis; this year, it is Ecstasy.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ukparliament.jpg
British Parliament
The British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) Wednesday released its review of Ecstasy and, as expected, called for the popular club drug to be downgraded from Class A to Class B. The Labor government rejected the recommendation the same day.

The ACMD is an advisory body established by the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 and charged with reviewing the appropriateness of each drug's classification and advising ministers on whether a drug should be reclassified, as well as offering broader advice on measures relating to drug use. The government is not bound to take its advice, as was the case last year with cannabis, and now with Ecstasy.

ACMD head Professor David Nutt responded to the government's rejection of the recommendation by accusing ministers of being influenced by politics and not scientific evidence. Ecstasy, said Nutt, was "harmful," but not harmful enough to be scheduled in Class A along with heroin and cocaine.

"Our job is not to give messages to the public," Nutt said in remarks reported by the Press Association. "Our job is to tell the Home Secretary and drugs minister about the relative harms of drugs. I think they have accepted our evidence but I think they have made a political decision. There is no doubt ecstasy is harmful but it isn't as harmful as heroin or cocaine."

The government accepted 11 of 13 ACMD recommendations tied mainly to confronting Ecstasy through a harm reduction approach. In addition to rescheduling, the government rejected a recommendation that drug users be provided with drug testing kits to ensure tablets are not adulterated or contaminated.

"Our job is to do science and to present the best science to government," Nutt continued. "Government is about politics and I guess, in an ideal world, the two would be harmonious and synchronized but in a way that's a question you should be asking the politicians."

Home Office minister Alan Campbell said he did not dispute the scientific findings in the ACMD's report. But he said Ecstasy was "unpredictable" and could cause death even in first-time users.

According to the ACMD, about 17 people die each year from Ecstasy-related causes. That prompted Nutt, in an article in a scientific publication, to write that the risks of taking Ecstasy were equivalent to those in riding a horse. That in turn prompted a stern rebuke from Home Minister Jacqui Smith, who successfully insisted that Nutt apologize for the comparison.

Although Labor and the Tories rejected rescheduling Ecstasy, the Liberal Democrats defended the panel. Dr. Evan Harris, party spokesman for science, said it was "deplorable" that ministers rejected the proposal. "Scientists must now seriously question whether it is worth them giving up their time to help a government that not only rejects the message but attacks the messenger."

Although the repeated rejection of ACMD recommendations is causing questions about the agency's future role, it is not shying away from controversy. Next on its agenda: downgrading LSD from Class A to Class B.

The Home Office has already made clear it will oppose that, too. "The government has no intention of reclassifying LSD, which has very random, and sometimes very frightening, effects," said a Home Office spokesman. "It can have serious, longer term implications for somebody who had a history of mental problems and may also be responsible for triggering a mental health problem that had previously gone undetected."

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

British Politicians are evil and corrupt, fact.

Not a day goes bye without some new revelation concerning widespread political corruption, not to mention ineptitude.
To put British Labour {and the rest probably} in context, one needs to listen to the reasoning behind this nonsense:
despite 60-90 daily deaths in the UK from Alcohol, substantiated, and the fact that about 100 people per year die from horse riding related accidents, and, ecstacy deaths per year being about 10-17 {absolute maximum..... probably far fewer}, the Politicians, of whatever persuasiion, think downgrading ecstacy, like cannabis, would "send out the wrong message about illegal drugs"........

WELL, YES - IT WOULD TELL THE TRUTH, WHICH IS THE WRONG MESSAGE WHEN YOUR WHOLE FOUNDATION IS BUILT UPON LIES AND DECEPTION DATING FROM ALSINGERS VILE AND RACIST NONSENSE FROM 80 YEARS AGO.......

When you have a government which appoints experts and then says before they have even met, that they will not move on the issue, just what is the point?????????????
Same crap with cannabis.

Is it little wonder then that we are {globally} in the mess we are in? Our govenment here says it listens, and learns, BUT IT DEMONSTRABLY DOES NOT, AND THE ARROGANCE DISPLAYED IS LEADING US TO DISASTER ON A GLOBAL SCALE: that growing hemp/cannabis could significantly decrease carbon dioxide availability is a fact, and denial coupled with oil obsession will lead us ever more quickly to world wide disaster.............

What is even more bizarre is the fact that laws made for the UK are inacted in Scotland, without the staged process intended...... here you just get punished, which can mean 5 years jail for posession, and 14 years for production....... for growing a plant?

Myself, I got busted for an outdoor crop, in November, which was simply not viable {ie worthless} given the climate, and was pursued by the Financial Crime Unit for £331,000.00 {about half a million us dollars}.............. eventually the court dropped it, but I did not have a working bank account for 16months........... try living these days without a bank account of any sort......... in 40 years of regular drug use I have yet to experience a single problem of any sort, other than getting caught, the process of which damn near killed me: I tried to kill myself the day I found out how much they were after, as it was the only way to avoid my family suffering - if I was dead, the matter could not proceed....

I have tried being an "activist" but its not easy given some of the folk who participate......
So, I have embarked upon another tact: I am sutdying for an MSc in Drug and Alcohol Studies, with a view to becoming an Expert Witness in order to help some, and put TRUTH out there.

We had a new cannabis programme on BBC tv last week: done by an addiction professional, which just sums things up there also: addiction was debunked 40 years ago, but it still is used as an excuse today........ along with nonsense regarding "lazy" lifestyles from cannabis use............... its just incredible - see Sullums book "Saying Yes" for a critique.

Politicians are liars, and greedy self interested ones at that, and having no knowledge of a subject appears no barrier to inacting repressive laws to punish otherwise law abiding citizens. Our jails are full, and the proof that they dont work is evident.

Its all a scam, to distract from the rape and pillage of the world, by the few: our politicians are above the law. Fact. In the UK you get the justice you can afford, its that simple.

Lets put it all together here:
the US controlls the UN, so lets see some real change now Bush has gone.
The 1961 UN Single Convention is obscene, similarly the 1988 one.

The UN's intention of a "drug free world" is utter nonsense: try reading Samorini's book "Animals and Psychedelics" and then Siegel's "Intoxication" if you want a basis for an argument...............DRUG USE BY ANIMALS, HUMANS INCLUDED, IS NORMAL, NORMAL, NORMAL.

If you want to understand ADDICTION read Bruce Alexanders book "The Globalisation of Addiction".

All the evidence for a sensible approach is out there, and mostly available: the most poinient example concerns Sweden and the Netherlands - radically different approaches to the "drug problem" but similar good outcomes for those concerned....... it makes interesting reading and Bruce Alexander will show you why.

The truth is out there, and its our duty to educate, should we want change that is: until people stand up, with facts at their fingertips, and argue, little will change............... if you want change, work to make it happen.

Politicians ARE Liarticians... interested in 2 things only...

Politicians ARE Liarticians... interested in 2 things only... Acquiring Power & Retaining Power.

Power, whether aquiring or retaining, is their ends and lying is their means.

With unregulated power, as it exists today, liarticians can hand down dictates that mandate the general welfare while pretending to promote the general welfare!

The fact that 'dictates' and 'mandates' are coercive and not synonomous with 'promoting' anything seems not to matter to these people who are jokingly sworn to uphold the constitution... to the best of their... feable abilities.

To anonymous

It is true that insitutions tend to perpetuate itself, it strives to do this, and political power as and instituition is no exception. This does not mean however that all politicians are lying, how I picture it is the way there constituent would react if a member of parliament in england or a member of congress in the US would speak out in favor of a reclassification act. I think it is very important to realize that our politicians are sprung from us, and not delivered corrupt and ready to us. This means that any reasoning or argument comming from them, is also comming from us, whatever we need to do to change things, it must be done at a grassroot level, as allways. This is the way, people in there safe subburbs are scared thitless of "punks" taking drugs, raping there dotters and generelly corrupting the youth. Information is critical, one must not be afraid to take the discussion to where you live, your friends and anyone else you meet. The modern man is the new indifferent man, we view political views as entertainment, it is not, we should therefor never be afraid of expressing them, in order to save our democracy! The step to legalisation might be to steep, de-iligalizing is probably a more sensibel approach, but there is no question however of what the end game should be: Individual freedom above all else. Writing these words makes me remember the words of

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