Govt drug advisors meet to discuss ecstasy

An independent body is meeting today to reassess the drug ecstasy’s reclassification, but the government remains firmly opposed to such a move.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) will spend the day hearing evidence and putting questions to expert speakers on ecstasy, which is currently a class A drug.

Presentations on trends in its use, its neuropsychological effects, mortality data and neuroimaging will all feature in the session before ACMD members meet in private to discuss their recommendations.

A spokesperson for the council told the review was underway after a request from the Commons’ science and technology committee, rather than the government.

And the Home Office remains vehemently opposed to any change from ecstasy’s current classification as a class A drug.

“Ecstasy can and does kill unpredictably; there is no such thing as a ‘safe dose’,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

Today’s review will provide recommendations on “social misuse and harms” rather than the legal punishment for each drug, a major change introduced after a 2006 report from the Commons select committee.

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne welcomed the move.

“Let’s hope ministers don’t ignore this careful scientific assessment and push ahead with their own plans, as they did with cannabis.

“There is no point in having a top-level advisory committee of medical experts if you ignore their views.”

The ACMD is scheduled to submit its recommendations to ministers in early 2009.