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Evan Harris, former Lib Dem MP, takes ecstasy on TV for medical research

  1. source
    An ex-Lib Dem MP has taken ecstasy as part of a televised experiment into the drug's effects, saying there should be "no, no-go areas" for medical research.

    Evan Harris is among those taking part in a Channel 4 programme examining the effects of the Class A drug. He said the show, criticised by some experts, was a "valuable opportunity" to discuss issues surrounding the drug.

    And he said he wanted to help find a dose that might help treat depression without giving patients a high.

    Dr Harris, a qualified doctor who lost his seat at the last election, is among a group of public figures who have taken MDMA, the pure form of ecstasy, or a placebo for a programme entitled Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial.

    The programme, to be broadcast later this month, is part of a wider study into ecstasy and its effects on the brain led by Professor David Nutt, the government's former chief drugs adviser.

    'Not raving'
    After being given the drug, Dr Harris and the other volunteers were placed inside a brain scanner and their neurological activity monitored.

    He told Radio Times he had not agreed to take part "to get a free high" but because he wanted to help the study.

    "In order to be allowed to take part in the trial, I needed to have taken ecstasy at least once before without any ill effects. Without going over 'my ecstasy history', I qualified."

    He added: "It was not obvious to me when I was taking the MDMA (ecstasy) and when I was taking the placebo. But it was clear I was not raving."

    In a separate statement, Dr Harris said he had long been an admirer of the work of Prof Nutt, who was sacked in 2009 after clashing with the then Labour home secretary Alan Johnson over drugs policy.

    Prof Nutt was removed after saying cannabis was less harmful than alcohol or nicotine.

    Dr Harris said the new study had been subject to an "ethical approval process for research involving healthy volunteers".

    "We were all screened by medics and psychiatrists before giving our fully-informed consent to take part."

    He added: "The trial could also pave the way to further research into potential therapeutic uses of MDMA, such as in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    "If it is deemed ethical and useful by the experts, there should be no 'no-go areas' for research."
    'Balanced information'

    The TV programme, he added, offered a "a valuable opportunity" to discuss the issues surrounding ecstasy and a chance to give the public "balanced, evidence based information" about the drug.

    Channel 4 has said the "brave and radical" programme would not glamorise drug use and would address the side-effects and dangers of taking the drug as well as any possible medical benefits.

    But Julia Manning, chief executive of the think tank 2020 Health, has described it as "reckless and pointless".

    Dr Harris is a former Lib Dem science spokesman.

    He lost his Oxford West and Abingdon seat at the last election but has maintained a high profile within the party.

    He is also a spokesman for Hacked Off - the campaign group seeking justice for victims of phone hacking.

    BBC News, Wednesday 19th September 2012.

    Previous post on DF about the Channel 4 programme and its participants


  1. Aminatrix
    Ugh I cannot believe how "morally bad" it is to feel above normally good-- at least that's the position main-stream media holds.

    Seriously anyone who says they don't like to feel good is a liar. (Or a masochist, and they are not the majority)

    In this article, it's goal is to help get drugs like MDMA approved for valid medical research, but is worded so carefully, as to hint that any use of the drug to "get high" is something evil. So while it may help lessen classification for a few select drugs, it still promotes the same bad thinking of the drug war: That feeling anything better than normal (by use of a drug) is something to be shunned.

    What happened to the old saying: "When life gives you apples, make lemonade?" Well life has given us an amazingly wide and stunning array of wonderful chemicals that can make our lives so much more meaningful than anyone could possibly have (previously) imagined.

    If someone doesn't want to use drugs that's a very respectable decision, but it's not the only decision, and forcing a way of thinking on others is fascism, and that is what people should really be shunning away.
  2. Trancel0v3r
    Totally agree with the above, taking or doing something which makes you feel good is NOT wrong, providing theres no detriment to others because of your actions.

    Ive had a similar situation regarding someones views who I WAS close to....

    SWIM lives in the mountains of the UK, and a comparable situation with his partner contributed - amongst much else - to an eventual break up. His bf liked to climb mountains while SWIM made some friends that were into drugs (not heavily but the occasional usage). SWIM was open about this and the response he got was something along the lines of "anyone who takes drugs deserves whatever problems they get from it knowing the risks that are involved". Yet SWIM pointed out that scrambling up ridges and edges 1000's feet up is also potentially very dangerous and infact many people die a year here becuase of it. Also its worth pointing out the mountain rescue teams are volunteers and put THEIR lives on the line to help those who get into trouble, where as the hospital staff treating drug abuse are not at the same risk and get paid for it.

    The point being that if an activity or sport someone chooses to persue carries a 1 in 100 chance of getting injured, or 1 in 1000 chance of death, yet a drug carries that same risk of injury and death, then the drug use will get looked down upon and shunned but the sport/activity wont, both participents presumabely knowing what risks are involved......... Why is this?
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