Drugs advisors want ecstasy downgraded

The drugs advisory body that opposed the tightening of the law on cannabis earlier this year now want the law to be weakened on ecstasy.

Ecstasy is currently a class A drug, and Government ministers have confirmed that they intend to keep it there.

Possession of class A drugs can result in a seven year prison sentence, while supplying them is punishable with life imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

But the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, soon due to review the classification of ecstasy, is expected to recommend that it is moved down to class B.

In 2004, under advice from the Council, the Government downgraded cannabis from class B to class C. It proved to be a disaster and the Government reversed the policy earlier this year.

Professor David Nutt, who heads up the Council, wrote an article in medical journal, The Lancet, last year in which he suggested that tobacco and alcohol were more harmful than ecstasy.

But the Government’s drug information website, talktofrank.co.uk, warns that there is evidence suggesting that ecstasy “can cause damage to the brain causing long term problems – like depression, personality change and memory loss.”

It says there have been more than 200 ecstasy-related deaths in the UK since 1996, and lists liver, kidney and heart problems among physical damage that can be caused by the drug.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said that any recommendation from the Council would be considered, but that the Government believed ecstasy should remain a class A drug.