Home Secretary Jacqui Smith fights move to relax law on Ecstasy
By Matthew Hickley
Last updated at 7:27 PM on 04th January 2009
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith believes ecstasy should remain a Class A drug
Jacqui Smith is on a collision course with government drug experts over their belief that Ecstasy should be downgraded.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs will publish a report later this month which is expected to call for the drug to be reclassified from Class A to Class B.
Home Office sources signalled yesterday that the Home Secretary will reject any such advice.
Ecstasy is blamed for around 30 deaths a year across the UK.
The Government recently dismissed ACMD advice that cannabis should remain a Class C drug following its controversial downgrading four years ago, and is restoring it to its former Class B category.
A further clash will raise serious doubts over whether the system of experts advising Home Office ministers is working.
Council insiders have voiced frustration at what they see as ministers framing drugs policies on political judgments rather than scientific evidence.
Critics of the council, meanwhile, have accused it of pushing a 'broadly liberal and pro-drug, legalisation agenda', and questioned whether it is fit to advise ministers.
Senior Home Office sources said they 'fully expected' the ACMD to call for Ecstasy to be reclassified.
Ecstasy is currently blamed for around 30 deaths a year across the UK
A spokesman added that the ACMD's review of the law - which was not requested by ministers - was 'hugely unwelcome'.
She added: 'Ecstasy can and does kill unpredictably. There is no such thing as a "safe dose".
'The Government firmly believes that Ecstasy should remain a Class A drug.'
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve backed the Government, saying: 'Drugs wreck lives and destroy communities. Ecstasy is a drug that is very damaging.'
ACMD chairman Professor David Nutt has suggested that the drug causes less harm than alcohol.
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