11 February 2009
The Green Party has welcomed a government-commissioned report which recommends downgrading ecstasy from the most-dangerous group of drugs.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs says ecstasy should be reclassified from a Category A drug to Category B. Experts concluded that ecstasy had little impact on short-term memory loss and was not a significant factor in criminal behaviour. Category A drugs include heroin, cocaine and crack. Suppliers can face life imprisonment.
The Advisory Council's chairman, Professor David Nutt, said the risks associated with ecstasy were no greater than horse riding. The government has indicated that it will reject the experts' advice.
Green Party drugs spokesman Shane Collins accused ministers of politically-motivated cowardice and called on the government to implement the Advisory Council's recommendations.
"The Green Party welcomes the Council's report and Professor Nutt's comments comparing the risks of ecstasy with horse riding are perfectly valid," said Mr Collins. "It is shameful that the government has already dismissed the clear scientific evidence on which the report is based and is pandering to all its time-old political prejudices."
Mr Collins said all drugs posed some health risks but that there had to be a rational and informed debate. "Green Party policy is that ecstasy should be decriminalised for personal use, with regulation of supply," he said.
Last month the government rejected the Advisory Council's advice on cannabis, restoring it from a Category C drug to Category B. "Rejecting the advice of its own experts appears to be habit-forming and is definitely dangerous," said Mr Collins. "The government should seek help."