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Ecstasy: Class A drug?

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Mark Easton | 13:41 UK time, Friday, 26 September 2008

What is the point of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs? Today they sit around a table earnestly discussing whether the latest scientific evidence means they should advise the home secretary to reclassify methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) as a class B rather than class A drug.

Ecstasy or MDMABut Jacqui Smith has clearly already made up her mind. "The government firmly believes that ecstasy should remain a class A drug", her spokesperson said.

Yet again, we watch as politics and science collide like protons in Cern. The result is a big black hole in public understanding which threatens to squeeze the life out of a coherent drugs strategy.

The ACMD was set up in 1971 to give ministers expert advice on the control of dangerous or harmful drugs including classification and scheduling under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Home office ministers have told Parliament that the committee provides "the key advice" on what class a drug should be and ensured that its policy was "evidence based".

But that doesn't mean they always take their advice. Earlier this year the government said it would raise cannabis to a class B drug despite the fact the experts advised to keep it at class C.

Today, as before, we are told that following the ACMD's recommendation would send out a "dangerous message".

So is drugs classification about comparing harm (science) or influencing attitudes (politics)?

A couple of years ago Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker told Parliament's Science and Technology Committee it was both.The purpose of classification was to "categorise drugs according to harm" but Ministers also recognised that the system "does send out messages; it does send out signals to people, in a way which people understand".

The parliamentary committee was not impressed. "The government's desire to use the class of a particular drug to send out a signal to potential users or dealers does not sit comfortably with the claim that the primary objective of the classification system is to categorise drugs according to the comparative harm associated with their misuse" the MPs stated.

"It has never undertaken research to establish the relationship between the class of a drug and the signal sent out and there is, therefore, no evidence base on which to draw in making these policy decisions."

Indeed, Professor David Nutt, who takes over as head of the ACMD in November, is among a growing number of experts who believe "the evidence base for classification producing a deterrent is not strong".

So if class of a drug makes little or no difference to whether people take it, the only point in having such a system is to provide the public with an evidence-based and rigorous appraisal of the relative harms caused.

That, certainly, was the conclusion of the ACMD who in 2006 told the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: "We suggest a new system for evaluating the risks of individual drugs that is based as far as possible on facts and scientific knowledge.

drugs_graph432.jpg

Using what they called a "harm matrix", the independent experts came up with an evidence-based classification system. The committee considered physical harm, psychological and physical dependence and the wider social harms associated with a drug.

Legal drugs including alcohol and tobacco were ranked alongside illegal substances so the public could understand how risks compared. Ecstasy is close to the bottom of the table.

In January 2006 the then Home Secretary Charles Clark also decided the system needed an overhaul. He ordered a review to ensure that "decisions were based on their wider harm to society and not just a health assessment of the clinical evidence".

But that review has been quietly bundled into the long grass where, presumably, it still lies.

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  • 1. At 2:22pm on 26 Sep 2008, rogers1892 wrote:

    What's the point of the advisory committee, if the people they're advising, ie the government, take no notice at all?? Ecstacy is a far safer drug than alcohol and tobacco, in fact most mdma fatalities are due to exhaustion/dehydration, therefore it's ignorance that kills. The drugs classification system has no bearing at all on consumption. If people are going to take E, coke, smack, they will whether it's class a/b/c or z. To suggest reducing a drugs classification will increase usage is a total myth. If heroin was legal would you go out, score a deal and shoot up?? Of course you wouldn't, because we've been educated about the harmfull affects. The sooner the govt realise education and regulation is the way forward the better. They'll happily let you smoke yourself into an early coffin and bleed the NHS dry for lung/throat cancer treatments, because they make a fortune out of it, so to not do the same with ALL illeagal substances just seems crazy. I for one will still buy a couple of E when I want, smoke a few spliffs if I want. If the government want to make me a criminal then fine. To be honest, if the cabinet tried taking these substances, they'd have a better idea of how to control them, especially if they're ignoring the advice of their own advisory committee. It's so frustrating!

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  • 2. At 3:42pm on 26 Sep 2008, Bobble wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 4:14pm on 26 Sep 2008, SotonBlogger wrote:


    The whole concept of drug classification is wrong. The damage a drug does to the individual is no business of the state. Tobacco and Alchohol and hugely toxic to bodily systems after all.

    There is potentially a role for scheduling drugs on the basis of the harm/cost they present to society but this isnt how it is done at present.

    An oft raised issue is the cost to the NHS for instance of helping people with drug dependencies. This could be easily be covered however through a sensible taxation system.

    Crime is another cited issue as to why drugs should be scheduled, but there is strong evidence the link between crime and drugs is due to the illegal status of the drug and knockon effects this has on supply and demand and hence price.

    At the end of the day drug classification has little to do with harm to the individual and hence the medical recommendation as to the harmful effects of ectasy is interesting but in policy terms mostly irrelevant.

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  • 4. At 4:45pm on 26 Sep 2008, Mongoletsi wrote:

    One aspect not commented on, of the ridiculous classification is the amount of "fake E" being produced and sold. It is no exaggeration to say that in Manchester and London, the majority of pills are actually either BZP or MCPP. These are "less illegal" to produce and supply, and as a result are cheaper to manufacture - obviously they retail at "normal" prices though!

    MCPP is an anti-depressant, used in trials of anti-migraine medicines; to induce migraines, and to treat serious cases of insomnia. Pop a couple of these and you'll feel reasonably decent for a couple of hours; followed by the inability to sleep and often a serious headache.
    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-(3-Chlorophenyl)piperazine

    BZP is related, and makes you sick.
    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzylpiperazine

    These substances taken "recreationaly" have far worse side-effects than those of Ecstasy. Legalise E, and you get quality control. Quality in the sense that taking an Ecstasy pill won't make you ill.

    If you check out http://www.pillreports.com/ you'll see Police warnings about "Rockets" et al, which are known throughout clubland as particularly vile and dangerous pills. The current situation means that the suppliers simply don't care; in the absence of better options, clubbers (stupidly, really) will continue to buy this rubbish, thus damaging their health. Legalise and control E production, and you'll actually improve the health of users. Hard, uncomfortable fact.

    A rather long-winded rant there, hopefully giving yet another angle on the ridiculousness of prohibition.

    Cheers, Paul.

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  • 5. At 5:27pm on 26 Sep 2008, Secret Love wrote:

    Of course tobacco was good for you too - reduced stress, encouraged the production of phelgm to clear the throat, and was a very social habit.

    Legalising a drug does not remove the illegal market - look at the fake cigarette trade.

    Legislation does not allow the genie to be put back into the bottle either.

    Unless the punishments are draconian they do not act as a discouragement, the reality is that drugs are part of today's society, so let's treat 'illegal' drugs the way we treat legal ones.

    License who sells them, and refuse to treat users on the nhs.

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  • 6. At 5:30pm on 26 Sep 2008, NicolaHale wrote:

    Hah.. So the message the government wants to send out is, you're better off taking ketamine or amphetamine rather than ecstasy...

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  • 7. At 5:39pm on 26 Sep 2008, Ben_UKDPC wrote:

    This blog raises some very important points about the purpose of the classification system. It was never intended to ‘send messages’, but was first developed to provide a framework for sentencing linked to harms. Unfortunately this has now become very muddled and it is deeply concerning if, as Mark suggests, the Government has made its mind up without even considering what the ACMD have to say re. Ecstasy classification.

    The UK Drug Policy Commission has called for an overhaul of the entire system and indeed one of the many questions we hope will be answered is ‘what is the point of the ACMD?’ when it comes to deciding the class of a drug.

    For more reasons why we need to review the system you can read our paper we submitted to the ACMD at: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    At least if/when politics and science collide, the wider questions regarding the purpose of classification and how classification decisions should be made may come to the fore.

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  • 8. At 7:22pm on 26 Sep 2008, ker-chop wrote:

    I personally think they all should be legalised.

    But speaking from a wider point of view- no one trusts politicians anyway, so people are more likely to take the scientific evidence on whether to take a drug or not rather than an out of touch government.

    But to be honest i do think it is no right of the state's what i put in my body.

    it seems to be a war- the government is scared of the papers so it will do as they say (newspapers which often print much more biased opinion rather than fact.) and the scientists who don't care what the papers think of them, tell the truth and give only facts

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  • 9. At 9:35pm on 26 Sep 2008, mistyevita wrote:

    Alcohol is far worse than all the other drugs combined.

    Who cares though, remember its taxed!

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  • 10. At 02:39am on 27 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Morning as i said somewere before this lot are crazy.
    How they can move drugs up and down a scale based on whim. Maybe the pharma companys aint doing so well :)
    Last time i looked the co-op or ASDA didn't sell all the chemicals needed to make these pills. Maybe they are smuggled in by skunk growing children from developing countrys..

    No 9 the goverment collect tax from the pharms that make the chemicals that make the pills so yes they are taxed by the goverment.

    BTW how much is E 2 for a quid ? thats how much they sell for here..... Well there not E there pills...

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  • 11. At 04:04am on 27 Sep 2008, Techip wrote:

    Why can we only complain about posts and not agree with them?

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  • 12. At 08:52am on 27 Sep 2008, JohnYaya wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 12:05pm on 27 Sep 2008, colourfulNiki wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 14. At 12:09pm on 27 Sep 2008, djbrux wrote:

    I thought the difference between a class A drug and a class B was to do with whether it can be used in medical science. A class A drug cant be used in medical research where as a class B drug can. its still illegal for recreational use.

    When MDMA was originally classified we just put it in the A cat as the Americans put it in their category 1. but the evidence used to put it there was flawed as it was based on meth amphetamine, not MDMA.

    MDMA has many useful properties that could lead to breakthroughs in medicines for (i think) parkinson's?

    the sentence for selling it and possession would surely stay the same. I think the government need to understand the point of the classification system.

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  • 15. At 5:26pm on 27 Sep 2008, riffler wrote:

    Some of the panel raised concerns that powdered ecstasy could be mistaken for cocaine, and that there was no consistent standard strength. Surely these are excellent reasons to legalise and regulate recreational drugs.

    Ecstasy kills around 50 people a year, most of whom are using other drugs. That makes ecstasy use much safer than alcohol or tobacco use, and much much safer than driving a car. Legalisation would take money out of the pocket of organised crime.

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  • 16. At 7:23pm on 27 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    While were on pills for thrills it would be intersting to see how safe E is compared to other prescribed drugs on a day to day death rate. Over the years Im sure many prescribe drugs exeed these death rates but go unmentioned because they are licenced for use.

    are pills like proplus gateway drugs to recreational pill taking?

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  • 17. At 7:50pm on 27 Sep 2008, GK1982 wrote:

    Most of the "ecstacy abusers" are university students. During my student days I used to work in a bar and loads of people came in gurning away (that's when they look like they are trying to chew their own faces off, an amusing side effect of ecstacy for the general bystander) and stroking each others jumpers while laughing about how tingly their fingers felt. These were not neds coming in from the streets, these were university students (our future leaders) on nights out... why? Because it was 3 pounds a pint (I'm guessing it's more now) and you need to buy about 15 pints in order to drink all night... or spend about 2-3 quid for 4-6 hours of feeling great but looking like a wolly...

    I honestly think the governemnt should legalise and tax drugs, make them adhere to Health and Safety regulations and use the tax to help in other areas... NHS and public services for example and we'd also save billions in the "fight against drugs" because (lets face it) the fight will never be won by the looks of things, it appears to be a bit of a lost cause.

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  • 18. At 9:47pm on 27 Sep 2008, Neil wrote:

    Something that also varies enormously is the police's attitude toward drugs.
    Should you be found with a few pills in a big city the chances are they will caution you at the very most. However, the same quantity will land you in court should you be found in possession in an area of England where the police have little else to occupy themselves.
    The same can be said for cannabis and this is regardless of whatever label has been slapped on the drug by the government.
    I have a family member who is in the police force and he has mentioned that should he smell weed smoke in the street he just walks on by. It's not worth the extra paper work. In my opinion the same could be said for ecstasy - what possible harm is going to be caused by a group of spaced out kids whose only ability to harm someone is by hugging them too tightly?

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  • 19. At 10:14pm on 27 Sep 2008, U12638968 wrote:

    9. mistyevita

    Alcohol and drugs are all evil.
    Mistyevita is right in stating that because alcohol is taxed nobody seems to care.

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  • 20. At 00:51am on 28 Sep 2008, tarquin wrote:

    time and time again it is said - drug classification is a farce - cannabis is the easiest example, it was lowered to class C because, as the graph shows, it's far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol and widely used anyway

    it was then raised, against this medical advice, by gordon brown's government - what reason was there for doing this? to "send out a message" (ie carry favour with conservative minded people who like law and order, no matter the real facts) - the politicians decided how bad this drug was, now as a democratically elected government I guess you can argue they can do what they like (persecute jews, confiscate land...introduce id cards?) - but that is not good government, you cannot allow a bunch of politicians to *actually* run the country - they need to be told by people who actually know what they're talking about - economic specialists should be advising on the economy, health specialists on health etc etc - to my mind their decision to re-upgrade cannabis, against advice, as a vote winner, was one of the first things that swore me off ever supporting brown's government, and there's been a similar plethora of putrid policies since

    like most prohibitionist measures, all the restriction of drugs, or 'the war on drugs', is senseless - it just drives the process underground, putting it in the hands of criminals - legalisation would not completely solve the problem, but it would probably improve the situation

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  • 21. At 01:02am on 28 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Drugs are not evil thats a very daft view of the world, how we treat them and the people involved is evil, people on both sides of the fence.
    The dealer does not want an end to prohabition.
    The goverment does not want and end to prohabition.
    I think the only group that would like to realy see an end to prohabition on E will be the pharm's and rightfully so they could do so much with a pill or a patch.

    Drugs are a tool with which to subdue the populas or enrage it, how we go on to manage these tools will have a great affect on us all currently management of drugs has failed outside the working environment and is left in the hands of the young and those that will put profits and policys before human life.

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  • 22. At 11:06am on 28 Sep 2008, threnodio wrote:

    The ACMD, like NICE and so many other advisory bodies with indecipherable acronyms is to pay out large amounts of money to cronies which would be far better spent at the sharp end of the problem. Too many experts, too many quangos, too much talking and too little action.

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  • 23. At 11:18am on 28 Sep 2008, valiantnoddy wrote:

    I had a large house, a good business and a happy family - all lost to coke. It was totally my fault, not the drug. people who blame the drugs have no idea what they are talking about.
    Open your eyes and treat all drugs the same. If you legalise alcohol and cigarettes, then how can you not, legalise other drugs.
    The world of crime, depravity and sadness that I saw (controlled by serious criminals) was horrific.
    I escaped, many others don't and can't.
    For pity's sake, LEGALISE and control all drugs. The financial benefits alone will be enormous. The social benefits, even bigger. So if politicians really care about the people - LISTEN TO US!

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  • 24. At 12:21pm on 28 Sep 2008, threnodio wrote:

    #23 - valiantnoddy

    HEAR, HEAR!

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  • 25. At 12:22pm on 28 Sep 2008, dominangel23 wrote:

    Good God. From the mangled grammar displayed on here so far I'd say that 90% of our learned posters are spaced out on something or other. Or is it maybe that the majority of our school teachers are too busy passing spliffs around the staff room table to be able to find time to bash a modicum of spelling into the "Exstacy" fried skulls of todays youth?

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  • 26. At 1:02pm on 28 Sep 2008, threnodio wrote:

    #25 - dominangel23

    And the link between language and substance abuse is . . . ?

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  • 27. At 2:13pm on 28 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    LMAO thats what i love i cant think of anything better to say so ill pick on spelling.
    I personaly suffer from a common reading/spelling disorder which if i dont type or spell the first time round i may as well just forget even thinking about the word. gets out spell checker which while realy good makes you feel somewhat thick.
    Now ask me to paint thats another matter altogether. :D Build a network easy fix your pc teach you how to use it.

    PS im rubbish at maffs as well :P

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  • 28. At 2:22pm on 28 Sep 2008, sparklingpopeye wrote:

    #25. I resent the pitifully ridiculous notion that teachers all sit around taking drugs in school. Where on earth did that come from?

    Also, today's youth needs the apostrophe. As in, the youth of today. Thank goodness there are some (sober) teachers around to correct the poor grammar of ignorant people. I wonder if anyone is consuming cannabis whilst writing on this blog? Not this teacher, but if poor grammar is anything to go by, maybe #25 is?

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  • 29. At 5:09pm on 28 Sep 2008, seaAmanda22 wrote:

    Hello, my name is Amanda (22) and I just lost my younger brother Kieran to ectasy on the 20th of June this year. I was astounded that people are considering downgrading this drug.

    I agree that their is substantial evidence to suggest that their are other drugs in the class A catatgory that kill more people, but thats my point "killing people." How many lives have to be taken before it becomes a serious issue? How many people have to die. Surely one is enough.



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  • 30. At 7:12pm on 28 Sep 2008, Nic Oatridge wrote:

    Well said, Mark. More sense than you can find in the entire Home Ministry. Basically we have a government too spineless to believe it can sell the truth to the public.

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  • 31. At 7:24pm on 28 Sep 2008, threnodio wrote:

    #29 - seaAmanda22

    I am sure that everyone who uses this blog - and beyond - would send you their sincere sympathy.

    My fear about categorising drugs is that it not only makes them a law enforcement issue but sets priorities which are arbitrary and not credible. Obviously society needs rules and some things have to be illegal. There is no other way. The problem with making substance abuse unlawful is that it drives it further underground. You do not solve problems by hiding them away. You solve them by bringing them out into the open. Then, hopefully, in time, you will drive the dealers out of business, give those who want to address the problem to opportunity to do so without fear, and those who, despite everything still feel the need to use, access to safer use rather than street suppliers whose only interest is to make money out of other peoples' nightmares.

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  • 32. At 8:00pm on 28 Sep 2008, Sean wrote:

    The whole business is a nonsense and has little to do with the impact a drug has on society or the potential harm that a drug can do to an individual.

    I note that psilocybin or 'magic mushrooms' are absent from the chart in the article. However, despite this they have been recently upgraded to a class A drug. They are non-addictive and I would be amazed if there are any deaths that can be directly attributed to their use.

    The arguments for criminalisation are all so extremely weak and inconsistent that it beggars belief that intelligent experts would support them, so one can only assume that there is another agenda at work here. Highly addictive drugs are sold over the counter every day, despite the harm they do to the individuals that use them and those that suffer the consequences of their misuse.

    The big problem with drugs like cannabis and psychedelics is that promote non-violent free thinking that undoes much that the factory-fodder education system tries to instill in us.

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  • 33. At 8:23pm on 28 Sep 2008, Sean wrote:

    Ref. Post #29

    My sympathy goes out to you Amanda, I can only imagine the distress this must have caused you and your family.

    However, if we take your comment to its logical conclusion we must surely upgrade cigarettes and alcohol and criminalise their use? Hundreds of people die daily from the misuse of these drugs and yet we happily tolerate their open use.

    There must be a point where we show people the dangers of misuse of drugs and then leave the choice of whether or not they use them up to them.

    Putting the manufacture and distribution of dangerous drugs in the hands of criminals forces people who would like to experiment with them to interface with those criminals while exposing them to risk from poor quality products manufactured by people who consider murdering a business rival to be all in a day's work.

    As a youth I took just about every commonly available recreational youth available, despite strong penalties being in place and a good knowledge of their affects and the dangers of misuse and addiction. I did not select them based on classification, nor did fear of punishment based on those classifications deter me.

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  • 34. At 9:00pm on 28 Sep 2008, GypsyBall wrote:

    How much of a deterrant is the illegality of drugs, exactly? I agree with #23 (as well as sympathise with and highly respect); legalise and control drugs as it will undoubtedly result in a better situation than we have now. Perhaps the initial legalisation could produce a rise in deaths but in due course there will be a revolution in the way Britain views drugs.

    If the government really felt it was their responsibility over people's health then I'd like them to justify the legality of alchohol and tobacco... oh, wait, I think I hear the distant sound of profits being made.

    The government weigh up the costs and quite obviously the amount of money brought in from alcohol and tobacco outweighs the cost of potential health complications. I suggest that if they want a bit more cash in the pocket they shouldn't bother with the Advisory Committee because if they're not going to acknowledge the research then why pay for it and let it undermine their decisions? Quite obviously the government is far more qualified to determine the class of a drug than any scientist backing up their advice with data.

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  • 35. At 10:05pm on 28 Sep 2008, CarrotsneedaQUANGO2 wrote:






    A good analogy that, Cerns atom collider is bust and has been switched off.

    Actually this analogy can easily be stretched to cover the current government.



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  • 36. At 10:59pm on 28 Sep 2008, seaAmanda22 wrote:

    Thankyou for you kind words they are appreciated. And please don't think I'm here to tell people what to do, I just feel I must put my point across because it very relevant to me at the moment.

    The argument that alcohol/cigerettes is as bad as ecstasy, really doesn't seem appropriate. Neither kills you within 24 hours of taking it unless you smoke and drink a life times supply all at once. It takes years to die from lung cancer, as with liver failure due to drink. They aren't in the same catagory, because the death toll isn't immediate. But it depends how you measure these things, by the drain on the nhs, death toll per annum. I measure it by the huge risk you take when you use it. One time was enough for my brother.

    Ultimately every man is free to do whatever he pleases in the world, I wouldn't want it any other way. The only barriers out there are the ones we set out for ourselves. You can always get it and find it if you want it. And thats fine if its your thing, but I can't see how legalising it would ever improve the world we see outside.

    Yes making it illegal drives it undeground and dealer will cut it with whatever they can get their hands on, but it was the pure stuff that killed him, the real deal. %100 ectasy, no extra additives or preservatives. How many more would die it it were legal?

    You have to acknowledge that by making these drugs easier to access more people will die. More doctors will try to save them, more nurses will care for the ones with serious brain damage in later life. People will have to embalm to bodies and more police men will stand outside houses wondering what on earth they are going to say to the family who just lost their brother/child/sister. More people like you will be affected in a negative way.

    I don't want to tell people what to do, ultimately it will always be your choice, but I am saying your choices affect the world around you and the people you care about.

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  • 37. At 00:36am on 29 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Amanda22 I lost my brother to heroin just under 5 years ago so i have a real understanding of were people come from and how such things affect one and those around them.

    If such drugs are legal then the doctor pharmacey etc has a duty of care to make sure that the customer is well enough to take the drug in the first place and has the power and right to say no this wont suit you because you show these signs or weekness in you body.

    Your brother is a prime example of this dark age of abuse we live in, the people you should be angry with is the goverment the people that have created this nightmare situation. I watch heroin and cocaine addicts all day long scurry back n forth from the phone box its sickening. 7:30am 10-15 addicts outside the local co-op waiting to use the phone school children in and out of the shop then the cars start the young girls appear a lot wont pay for there drugs this day, or any other.

    Drugs are everywere it couldn't be any simpler to hold of them. If only the world could see all of the drug trade just for one day just so they can understand what a monster they have created through prohabition.

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  • 38. At 00:37am on 29 Sep 2008, vidivici wrote:

    Whilst I have sympathy for anyone who has lost a loved one through drugs, it would be interesting to know how many people are killed each year through Peanut allergys and Viagra (for which the makers got a noble prize, I believe). Both of these kill people and yet no one has considered making either of these illegal.
    Drugs can lead to misery and heartache, but then so can gambling.
    Unfortunately the brain is the organ about which we know the least and as far as I am aware one of the few that cannot be transplanted. Anything that affects the working of the brain is still a long term unknown and so regulation and control of some form is necessary. The current Misuse of Drugs Act places the onus of responsibilty squarely on the user and supply chain. The state has distanced itself from taking responsibilty for any problems the only way it can by criminalising and imposing penalties on those that get caught.

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  • 39. At 00:38am on 29 Sep 2008, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    the only thing the current drug laws do is criminalise a large portion of society, saying the act of taking an illegal drug is a crime makes no sense at all how can it be a crime compared too stealing or murder, things like cannabis and ecstasy causes no harm to society generally, well compared to something like driving a car, sober! which causes lots of fatalities and injuries each year. or drunks who smash up our high streets and slowly kill themselves, or bankers who plunge world economies into black holes why would a drug user who causes no harm to society be labelled the same as a rapist or a pedophile. the Gov. drug laws have created a black market for drugs and put the money into these criminal gangs etc, there are plenty of intelligent arguments for legalisation and only ignorant arguments against, its time to make love on drugs not war.....

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  • 40. At 07:14am on 29 Sep 2008, AngryTaffy wrote:

    Any drug classification should be for information purposes only. It should not be illegal to take any drugs.
    Don't get me wrong, I do not condone the use of drugs; I would never dabble.
    But I find it incredible that the government and the public at large have not reached the conclusion that prohibition is hugely counter-productive.
    Suppliers make large profits because of the risks associated with supply.
    Addicts resort to crime to finance the habit.
    Suppliers mix in sometimes dangerous substances to increase the volume of the drug and to make more money. This practice can cause serious problems for the user.
    Addicts may not know the strength of the adulterated drug and can over-dose and die.
    If drugs were supplied by the local chemist the gangster-run drugs trade would be killed over night. Drug-taking would become affordable and user would not need to resort to crime. A prison officer that I know told me that at least 80% of inmates were convicted of drug-related crimes.
    Stop this nonsense and legalise all drugs while mounting a massive publicity campaign to warn of the dangers.
    I am not my brother's keeper. The only victim of drug-taking is the user. But if the user causes harm to any third party while under the influence the state should show no mercy.

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  • 41. At 09:11am on 29 Sep 2008, bigwhingebag wrote:

    If teenagers try ecstasy and think it is not too dangerous then surely they will assume that all class A drugs are also not that dangerous.

    Another shining example of the government making decisions on issues they do not understand.

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  • 42. At 10:44am on 29 Sep 2008, Euforiater wrote:

    So true.

    I don't have any particular axe to grind regarding these drugs - apart from the legal ones I've only ever taken cannabis but I'm prepared to accept any classifications based on harm for which the graph at the top of the page seems to be a considered science-based viewpoint from people who have taken a lot of time and effort.
    If some drugs must be illegal (and I think this has been proven over the long term to be a bad idea anyway) then we have to decide where and how to draw the line. I'd suggest somewhere above the alcohol position as this is already legal. But wherever it is drawn it should be a horizontal one, not the one we currently work with, which seems to be based on the crazy straw pattern!

    We know the government is towing the current line purely because it panders to the majority of voter's opinions which are ill-informed by tabloid headlines. Also they have to listen to a few vested interests (party fund donations by alcohol and cigarette companies etc) but eventually the truth will out and these things will be legalised and therefore made safer by quality control.

    As for the occasional instant death for which ecstasy is blamed (and often misdiagnosed anyway), well that is a truely terrible tragedy but then again so is a death due to peanut or seafood allergy, it's just a sad fact of life. (Apologies to those affected).

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  • 43. At 11:00am on 29 Sep 2008, Ben_UKDPC wrote:

    Reports that the Government has made up its mind about Ecstasy not only beg the question ‘what is the point of the ACMD?’ but also ‘what it the point of the classification system?’

    The classification system was never intended to ‘send messages’, but was meant to provide a framework for sentencing linked to the relative harms caused by illegal drugs. Unfortunately this has now become very muddled, and whether the Government should still say it categorises drugs ‘according to harm’ is questionable following its decision to reclassify cannabis to class B against the advice of its experts.

    Certainly we need expert, independent, scientific judgement of the harms that individual drugs cause to individuals and society (although there are many issues that this throws up in terms of ‘how’). But what should we do with this information? The ABC classification system guides sentencing but information on drug harms might also guide other areas of policy (for instance, when setting priorities for policing, education and health).

    We (the UK Drug Policy Commission) are calling for an overhaul of the entire system. You can see our submission to the ACMD where we discuss this at: http://www.ukdpc.org.uk.

    If/when politics and science collide over ecstasy classification (the ACMD’s recommendations are due early next year), we can hope analysis such as Mark Easton’s, relating to the purpose of classifying drugs, will come to the fore.

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  • 44. At 12:01pm on 29 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    #40 AngryTaffy

    I am not my brother's keeper. The only victim of drug-taking is the user. But if the user causes harm to any third party while under the influence the state should show no mercy.

    Pity this is not true for the weekend's oh wait thats alcohol and perfectly alright to kick someones head in because they may have looked at you.

    Anyways back to pills n stuff
    I know a man he sells pills n coke n herb n acid n just about anything else you can take.
    He got caught selling pills n coke judge gave him 3 years he served 6 months why ?? becuase he is also a drug addict, while still taged hes running about selling pills n powders. So 14 years for dealing E and cocaine.... Is only true if the seller is NOT addicted to drugs. So MODA71 does not work as a deterant.

    What has been the interlectual cost of this policy. Could this be why we have to import talent to this country because we have criminalised all our great minds.

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  • 45. At 12:22pm on 29 Sep 2008, negativebert wrote:

    It just shows how very out of touch this government is.
    Firstly, they disregard the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs on marijuana/ hemp by reclassifying it back to Class B then they actually think that ecstacy is at the same level!!

    Why bother even asking the Committee if the government apparently has universal knowledge?
    Dumb.

    Great blog though.

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  • 46. At 2:01pm on 29 Sep 2008, MOYESYSIDE wrote:

    Should the government really be in touch? I wouldnt have thought they would have time to worry about stuff like drug classification. Their only involvement should be in keeping down the costs involved to police drugs or in providing the best environment in which the medical profession can treat any effects of drugs. Instead the government looks purely to how their policies play out in the media.

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  • 47. At 2:51pm on 29 Sep 2008, SotonBlogger wrote:


    I really cant see how individual harm can be used to justify criminalising drug use.

    There are many things I could do if I so chose that would cause me harm.

    I could chose to jump in front of a bus for instance, the results of which would prove fatal properly, cause trauma to those on the bus and amongst those friends and relatives of mine who care about me.

    Does that mean that buses should be made illegal ? I would suggest not.

    If we suceed in drug education, the arguement becomes the same. It should be clear to everyone the potential pitfalls of drug taking and then it becomes a matter of individual choice as to whether to partake or not.

    What I am clear on is that theft or violence should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but thats independent of whether the offender is a drug taker or not.

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  • 48. At 5:01pm on 29 Sep 2008, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    My body is my property and it is my right to place inside my body any substance I see fit.

    If I refuse to acknowledge the government's authority in the matter, classification is irrelevant.

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  • 49. At 5:44pm on 29 Sep 2008, gendernotspecified wrote:

    Hey - I like to be in the minority! I wish to counter most of the postings as I am absolutely convinced that the current list of classified drugs should be retained and maintained - and maybe even strengthened.
    Firstly, if they were not already legal I agree that alcohol and tobacco would be banned. But they have been used in the UK for centuries and we are slowly getting on top of smoking at least. So let's start by all agreeing that the two biggest drugs are legalised and to put the cat back in the bag is unrealistic.
    The rules are clear at present - only criminals are tempted to spend time trying to make or import and sell illegal drugs - if they were legalised then some decent people would have to chose and it would be an economic misuse of their time to provide such "products".
    The ingenuity of chemists would mean a regular stream of new drugs - what a waste of resources trying to establish how dangerous they are, any side effects, how much to charge, safe dosages. The legalisers seem to think that because this or that drug is less dangerous than say alcohol then its OK - but in the end it would just lead to chemists developing cleverly designed drugs.
    Basically we all know the rules - tobacco and booze is OK used under some loose guidelines. Other drugs are not acceptable and each time you use them (always selfishly) then you are doing your part to encourage the criminals. I do not want to civil servants trying to run a legalised state monopoly to supply, in the main, mostly young people. Most of us grow out of this phase, or at least we should.
    I have lived in a country where drugs have been semi legalised and the effects can still be devastating and there is still criminal activity on the non controlled drugs. The government department never gets the supply where the demand is, they never know where to set the limit when the next drug comes along. Do you really think a state run system will deliver - life's just not like that you dreamers!

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  • 50. At 6:25pm on 29 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 51. At 6:57pm on 29 Sep 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    What again bleeeee maybe im a bit full on for this, to open, to honest?

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  • 52. At 8:44pm on 29 Sep 2008, Jedra101 wrote:

    The government are using the classification system as a political tool - that is obvious. Like many people here, I am in favour of legalising and licensing drugs. This, I feel is the only way of controlling them.

    We do however need hard scientific facts to support us in our decision to use drugs or not to use drugs. I smoke, and drink (although not often these days) and I have done the odd bit of Canabis. I have had the opportunity to try coke, heroin, e and other substances but have not. The reason I have not is not that they are illegal or are contained within a certain classification but simply because I have understood the side effects and potential worst case scenarios. As an adult (and adolescant) I have made this decision.

    By legalising, licensing and applying *sensible* taxation you we would probably achieve the best outcome as it is painfully obvious that the current system of punishment is not working. Sensible taxation is important as we see the effect that hyper taxation is having on the tabacco trade - i.e. the supply of illegal and far more dangerous fake tobacco products.

    It would be a brave government to do it though. Unfortunately the popular press has got the general populous into such a state about this, that the decision to legalise drugs would be political suicide.

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  • 53. At 9:49pm on 29 Sep 2008, whatwouldnikkido wrote:

    The office of national statistics website informs us that between 1996 and 2006 there were about 200 ecstacy related deaths. These were mainly due to dehydration and overheating, over hydration (washing all the salts out of the body) and people accidentally snorting MDMA ("E powder" basically) thinking that is was cocaine. Apparently around 250000 "E"'s are taken every month in this country, so the vast majority of people are suffering no ill effects
    As a point of reference the office of national statistics also informs that in 2007 242 people were killed by paracetamol. This is the lowest number per year since they began recording paracetamol deaths.
    Therefore it would seem that E is less dangerous than paracetamol.

    I have written more on this topic at http://www.whatwouldnikkido.com/2008/09/lets-abandon-science.html

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  • 54. At 11:09pm on 29 Sep 2008, simon scanlan wrote:

    Since when do ecstasy tablets contain pure MDMA? Lots of pills contain ecstasy related substances like MDA. Other pills can contain barbituates, heroin, cocaine or simply caffeine. I'd bet there's been as many different chemicals found in ecstasy pills as there are in the average cigarette.
    I presume the figures quoted in the article all related to pure MDMA are that there can be no reliable or ethical way of predicting the effect of the different combinations of drugs found in an ecstasy pill.
    The pill that has your name on it could always be out there.

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  • 55. At 00:11am on 30 Sep 2008, stu2630 wrote:

    There shouldn't be three classes of drugs, A, B and C. There should be two classes - L for legal and I for illegal. All the three classes we have now should become class 'I'.

    The only way to defeat drug crimes, including supply, importation and even possession, is to make the people who flout our drug laws realise that there are serious consequences. Yes, that does mean draconian punishments.

    Personally, I think there is some merit in returning to the use of corporal punishment for such offences, although I realise that this will never be considered in this day and age because our soft liberal intelligentsia would squeal that it was against "yooman rights". That's why we're in the mess we're in!

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  • 56. At 02:05am on 30 Sep 2008, BrightonStevie wrote:

    No49 Todblaster. Are you using the word 'criminal' to mean 'one who breaks the law' or as an antithesis to 'decent'? If the former, then yes, using illegal drugs is, well, illegal and so anyone who does it is necessarily a criminal, in which case legalise it, and we'll have so many more law abiding folk out there. Crime cut at a stroke! If the later, then I for one resent the implicit accusation that I'm not decent because I happen to smoke the occasional spliff. I don't hurt anyone, and I try to help people if I can. As such, I consider myself far more decent than the average Daily Mail reader say.
    Secondly, being legalised is hardly synonymous with being government run. The argument runs that if it was legalised then it could be taxed and regulated by the government, in a similar way to the way alcohol or tobacco is nowadays. It's still produced and distributed by private companies making their own profit.

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  • 57. At 03:26am on 30 Sep 2008, BrightonStevie wrote:

    When it's said 'sending out the wrong message'? What on earth message do they think is being sent out? And to whom? Most people I know are entirely used to the government systematically lying and saying the first thing that's convenient with no regard for truth, intelligence or the condition of England and it's people whatsoever. In as much as they're bothering to listen at all (and why waste your time doing that?) then the only message being sent is reinforcing this perception.
    Then the government wonder why people don't bother voting.

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  • 58. At 09:22am on 30 Sep 2008, Euforiater wrote:

    Finally a considered non-daily mail reaction from a prohibitionist, now we can answer your points.

    49. At 5:44pm on 29 Sep 2008, TheTodblaster wrote:
    "Hey - I like to be in the minority! I wish to counter most of the postings as I am absolutely convinced that the current list of classified drugs should be retained and maintained - and maybe even strengthened.
    Firstly, if they were not already legal I agree that alcohol and tobacco would be banned. But they have been used in the UK for centuries and we are slowly getting on top of smoking at least. So let's start by all agreeing that the two biggest drugs are legalised and to put the cat back in the bag is unrealistic."

    - Fair enough. But note that we are getting on top of smoking because of public education, not prohibition. When alcohol prohibition was tried in America it did not reduce consumption and actually increased consumption amongst younger people. Parallels with today's cannabis use, wouldn't you say?

    "The rules are clear at present - only criminals are tempted to spend time trying to make or import and sell illegal drugs - if they were legalised then some decent people would have to choose and it would be an economic misuse of their time to provide such "products".
    The ingenuity of chemists would mean a regular stream of new drugs - what a waste of resources trying to establish how dangerous they are, any side effects, how much to charge, safe dosages. "

    - Another reason for legalisation. Chemists can do the same thing now but would circumvent any safety tests. In fact some of them probably do, knowing full well the users cannot report them to the police for a "bad batch".

    "The legalisers seem to think that because this or that drug is less dangerous than say alcohol then its OK - but in the end it would just lead to chemists developing cleverly designed drugs. "

    - Again these would have stringent testing before being allowed into the public domain.

    "Basically we all know the rules - tobacco and booze is OK used under some loose guidelines. Other drugs are not acceptable"

    - That's just a blind statement with nothing to back it up other than the fact they are illegal.

    "and each time you use them (always selfishly) then you are doing your part to encourage the criminals. "

    - Yet again only helping the criminals because of prohibition. BTW a lot of people grow their own to remove this argument but they still get hunted down.

    "I do not want to civil servants trying to run a legalised state monopoly to supply, in the main, mostly young people. Most of us grow out of this phase, or at least we should."

    - Since when did you have the right to tell everyone that they should grow out of this phase? Cannabis in particular is more suitable for older people, partly due to its medicinal properties and partly just because it recreates the wonder of youth. If you haven't tried it recently then you won't understand how. And it would be private enterprise, the civil servants would merely police the system, at a minor fraction of the cost of trying to police the current problem (all and more of which could be returned in taxes).

    "I have lived in a country where drugs have been semi legalised and the effects can still be devastating and there is still criminal activity on the non controlled drugs. The government department never gets the supply where the demand is, they never know where to set the limit when the next drug comes along. Do you really think a state run system will deliver - life's just not like that you dreamers!"

    - Semi-legalisation (I presume you mean cannabis) will never going to work because there won't be any quality control. And if you're talking about Holland then I'm afraid only the press think it's failed. There are fewer cannabis users in Holland and far, far, far fewer heroin addicts there per head of the population. And yes, a state run system would deliver. BTW Martin Luther King was a dreamer, and I put it to you that he was right all along.

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  • 59. At 09:29am on 30 Sep 2008, Have your say Rejected wrote:

    Jacqui Smith said that public opinion was part of her decision on upgrading cannabis, makes sense asking an uneducated mass and taking their view over the trained professionals of the ACMD, the same uneducated masses said cannabis should be a higher class but also they wern't in favour of increasing penalties a contradictory view from the same uneducated people, thanks to ben_UKDPC for the link. The media and public opinion should not be part of drug policy making, drug policy should not be part of party politics, it should be dealt with seriously not as a vote winner as jacqui smith has done with cannabis and no doubt will do with ecstasy, the whole reason we are in this mess is because the Gov. are weak and pander to media/public opinion even when its wrong, its arrogance and ignorance has created apathy, they are still clinging on to the same anti drug arguments of 30 years ago, cannabis will lead to more harmful drugs, this is not true what ever gov stats or public opinion say, environment plays a more important factor and if u read other surveys having no biological father increases the chance of drug use, the only way too treat the blight of drugs like heroin and crack is to legalise regulate and treatment, education is the best prevention, criminalisation is just making the situation worse any fool can see that, u tell a child not to do it and what do they do? IT!

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  • 60. At 10:36am on 30 Sep 2008, Ollie wrote:

    First cannabis and now ecstasy. If they're going to just ignore the ACMD why bother having them at all. Save the money and save the experts time and expertise to do something useful and valued.

    They could convene a panel of Daily Mail readers instead who'd give them the recommendations they wanted rather than scientifically correct ones.

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  • 61. At 11:03am on 30 Sep 2008, stu2630 wrote:

    BrightonStevie said

    "If the later, then I for one resent the implicit accusation that I'm not decent because I happen to smoke the occasional spliff."

    You live in a democracy and enjoy the freedoms and benefits that our democratic system bestows. What is asked of you in return is that you obey its laws. If there are laws you object to, there are mechanisms whereby you can campaign and canvass politicians etc to change them. Yet you have decided that your desires to get high outweigh the legislation passed by our elected representatives.

    You admit to intentional and repeated criminal behaviour and yet you claim you are "decent"? Pull the other one! To be a decent person you have to live by principles rather than just doing whatever you like.

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  • 62. At 1:25pm on 30 Sep 2008, gendernotspecified wrote:

    Ref No 58. Firstly thanks for not assuming I'm a Daily Mail reader - the usual reaction to my views!
    While I could reply to your reply, point by point, I want to move the argument on a bit.
    All this stuff in the blog about "freedom to do what I want" does not deal with the inevitable problems, if legalised, of a state effectively assisting those who overdo the use and mess themselves up. I've seen too many people who just can't leave weed alone, get sacked from their job and just spiral down on to harder drugs. Whether it's legal or not is not going to change the temptation for some. Just because some on the blog can moderate their use isn't a justification to do what they want.

    And I wasn't talking about Holland either on the semi legal example.

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  • 63. At 1:51pm on 30 Sep 2008, Jedra101 wrote:

    Ref 62.

    That's a fair point, but at the end of the day the government cannot be made responsible for someone who abuses something which is in their own power to control. We HAVE to take individual responsibility for our actions.

    One of the big problems over the last few years is the introduction of laws to govern our use of 'things'. This is slowly eroding individual responsibility which will ultimately lead us into a situation where we are incapable of making decisions for ourselves.

    I think it is perfectly feasibly for a government to say 'you can use this, but here are the dangers of doing it, and here are the penalties which you will be subject too should you harm anyone else by doing it'.

    I know of a person that lost his job, his house and ultimately his familly due to the fact he was addicted to an online computer game. Many millions of people play the same computer game and manage to balance this with the rest of their lives. It would not be fair to legislate against this recreational activity purely because a minority cannot exercise self control.

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  • 64. At 2:34pm on 30 Sep 2008, ianmcco2 wrote:

    Firstly my sympathies to anyone who has ever lost a friend or family member to any drug (including alcohol and tobacco).

    Let's be honest about the whole classification problem - if people want to take drugs, are they likely to logon to the ACMD website to check the current classification? Are they likely to care what some self interested politician has to say on the matter? I doubt it

    Proper education about the risks of all drugs (legal and illegal) is what is needed - having knowledge gives you the information to make an informed decision, whether others agree with your decision.

    The great Bill Hicks had it right when he said that tobacoo and alcohol were 'good' drugs because they are taxed.

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  • 65. At 4:27pm on 30 Sep 2008, Euforiater wrote:

    Reply to 62:

    Firstly thanks for not assuming I'm a Daily Mail reader - the usual reaction to my views!
    While I could reply to your reply, point by point, I want to move the argument on a bit.

    - If I were you I would indeed reply to those points. Not doing so and moving on could make you sound like a politician avoiding a question he or she simply can't answer. In addition if your points are good, you might convince me and others of your point of view, which would be my ideal scenario, then I wouldn't have to concern myself with unjust laws and wasted police time, at least my mind would be at rest.

    All this stuff in the blog about "freedom to do what I want" does not deal with the inevitable problems, if legalised, of a state effectively assisting those who overdo the use and mess themselves up.

    - Problems which exist anyway but which the state could then do something about due to aforementioned quality control, crime and pusher removal, education etc.

    I've seen too many people who just can't leave weed alone, get sacked from their job and just spiral down on to harder drugs. Whether it's legal or not is not going to change the temptation for some.

    - That last sentence says it all. If legality makes no difference to usage then why have the law? (Other than to benefit the criminals with an easy market).

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  • 66. At 4:38pm on 30 Sep 2008, shalroth wrote:

    While I appreciate all the comments from those who think these drugs should be legalised, there are few practical considerations. MDMA is very nice for certain types of parties, and for getting all cosy with your honey. Amphetamine can be useful for helping you concentrate or stay up all night at a party. But some of these drugs are certainly very dangerous, and I would be concerned if Heroin and Cocaine (espeically crack) were legalised summarily. Heroin (Diamorphine) does have some uses in a medical setting, but from observation, in most cases it just destroys lives.

    Making the most addicting drugs available legally wouldn't lessen their addictive or harmful qualities, and possibly more people would choose to become dependant as they became easier to obtain, becoming a burden on the NHS. If people could legally wander into an establisiment to buy cocaine I think we'd see a corresponding rise in the number of sick days.

    I think there's certainly a case for legalising MDMA, and I'd like to see it myself, but the abuse potential of some of these other drugs is just too high to propose a blanket lifitng of all the various bans.

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  • 67. At 4:51pm on 30 Sep 2008, pandatank wrote:

    Ref #61 - The Guards, warders and soldiers who looked after the concentration camps were all law abiding citizens who lived in a democracy and followed laws democratically created by the Nazi party which actually had more of a mandate than the Misuse of Drugs Act.
    By your arguments they were all "decent people". In fact at Nuremberg many of these "decent" people tried to argue that they were only following their orders and the law. They were hung anyway because the law itself ruled that doing nothing was not enough.
    I'm sure many others attempted to campaign and use the mechanisms available to change the law, but in the end they had to swallow those principles to remain "law abiding" or go to a camp. Decency has very little to do with legality, but everything to do with morality.

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  • 68. At 7:39pm on 30 Sep 2008, greenthinker wrote:

    I don't agree with stu2630. #61

    I believe current democracy is flawed. We need a complete revision of the contract between citizens and the state, a little like the Magna Carta in spirit, to recognise certain inalienable moral rights.

    First on this list is the right of anyone to engage in victimless activity, such as taking drugs, so long as this activity does not harm the physical person or property of another.

    This contract would come with rights and duties. One duty would be to provide through work and/or tax a contribution towards the cost of providing a free and "decent" society, where education on all these matters enable the individual to decide their own course of action.

    Peoples', medias' and governments' opinions can and do change with the wind, however certain individual rights should be sacrosanct and above consideration. Only then will classifications be useful, in the context of providing education for informed choices. Until it sits inside a system that recognises people as individuals and not GDP creators then it will not serve the needs of society and will be ignored if it doesn't satisfy the current government position.

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  • 69. At 11:00pm on 30 Sep 2008, mekquarrie wrote:

    Does caffeine appear on the chart..? Tea = good. Coffee = bad.

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  • 70. At 04:46am on 02 Oct 2008, BrightonStevie wrote:

    No. 61 : Stu2630
    "You admit to intentional and repeated criminal behaviour and yet you claim you are "decent"? Pull the other one! To be a decent person you have to live by principles rather than just doing whatever you like."
    I live in the UK, where, thanks to the joys of the Criminal Justice Act (remember that?) This makes illegal, amongst other things, more than 3 people being together in public without prior police permission. There can be hardly anyone in the UK who hasn't broken that at one time or another. We are all criminals.
    Also, I'm intrigued by your idea of decent, which not only includes concentration camp guards (as noted by, but rejects Ghandi, Mandela, and even Jesus. Now I accept that the above mentioned were breaking the law for higher purposes than self enjoyment, which is largely why I toke, but they're still a long way outside of your definition of decent. Anyway, I do have principles, one of which is the freedom of the individual when not harming others, and I have, on occasion, done what I could to help others who were being oppressed (although I admit that I might not 'fight to the death' for this, I'll assume if I may, that in Socrates place, you wouldn't have drunk the hemlock for your principles either. If I'm wrong there, then please let me know, I apologise in advance.)

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  • 71. At 11:31am on 02 Oct 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 72. At 12:53pm on 02 Oct 2008, herbmanbob wrote:

    Biased Broadcasting Company why not just ban me make life easy and save me posting.

    Biased sample
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    A biased sample is a statistical sample of a population in which some members of the population are less likely to be included than others. If the bias makes estimation of population parameters impossible, the sample is a non-probability sample.

    An extreme form of biased sampling occurs when certain members of the population are totally excluded from the sample (that is, they have zero probability of being selected). For example, a survey of high school students to measure teenage use of illegal drugs will be a biased sample because it does not include home schooled students or dropouts. A sample is also biased if certain members are underrepresented or overrepresented relative to others in the population. For example, a "man on the street" interview which selects people who walk by a certain location is going to have an over-representation of healthy individuals who are more likely to be out of the home than individuals with a chronic illness.

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  • 73. At 5:47pm on 07 Oct 2008, the_new_Alf_Tupper wrote:

    I wonder what all the advocates of legalising all drugs would say, if the pharms companies were suddenly allowed to sell their products to people with no testing? Where are the detailed studies on the health implications of long-term use of ecstasy or other synthetic compounds of abuse? Yes, we know about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco, because there have been huge studies into their effects. Personally, I think anyone who takes ecstasy in preference to having a few beers is stark raving bonkers. I don't look forward to the drain on the NHS when the inevitable adverse long-term effects of all these substances shows up in 20-30 years' time.

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  • 74. At 3:16pm on 08 Oct 2008, Euforiater wrote:

    Critique for point 73:

    1, "I wonder what all the advocates of legalising all drugs would say, if the pharms companies were suddenly allowed to sell their products to people with no testing?"
    - That's the whole POINT of legalisation. Criminals won't test for safety, when legalised, the drugs would have to pass these tests.

    2, "Where are the detailed studies on the health implications of long-term use of ecstasy or other synthetic compounds of abuse?"
    - Ecstasy has been around for ages and we can safely say that it is MILES safer than some legal drugs but in any case legalisation would give a range of quality-controlled drugs, to limit any damage.

    3, "Yes, we know about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco, because there have been huge studies into their effects."
    - Yes, nightly violence and widespread lung cancer.

    4, "Personally, I think anyone who takes ecstasy in preference to having a few beers is stark raving bonkers."
    - I agree. I'm sure you DO think that.

    "I don't look forward to the drain on the NHS when the inevitable adverse long-term effects of all these substances shows up in 20-30 years' time."
    - No change from the current situation, people take drugs anyway. At least they would be quality controlled, and the tax on them could be put towards the NHS instead of towards drug barons' stretch limos.

    Has the penny dropped yet?

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  • 75. At 4:08pm on 13 May 2009, frederico02 wrote:

    seaAmanda22

    i feel for you seaamanda22 but im afraid to tell you that they are in the same catagorie because you can overdose on alcohol and ciggerettes in one time both seperatly . have you never heard of someone downing a bottle of vodka and dieing the same night? if you take enough nicotine you can overdose and if you do real research then you will see that nicotine is one of the most powerful poisones known to man

    i dont mean to be rude but as there are little deaths from extacy and 500,000 people or pills ( cant remember which one it is ) are taken or take it every year is relativly low compare to alcohol , aspirin , ciggerettes , persciption drugs . and deaths that do occur from exacty overdose can be explained ... an allergic reaction ( extremely rare ) , or taking to many pills and not being educate about what to do when taking the drug . its obvious that if you dance all night on extacy then theres a higher chance you will die , the same as if you drink to much while taking extacy but if educated then the probabilty of overdosing goes down .
    please do your reasearch first , sorry to give you the truth

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  • 76. At 03:04am on 15 May 2009, Nom DePlume wrote:

    In the history of mankind prohibitive measures to control 'chemical substances' used for 'recreation' uses has NEVER worked. Not once, thus it seems like there must be some other motive in mind. It's not like anyone actually believes we could eventually 'win' a war on drugs. It seems far more likely that it is based in our collective cultural past vis a vis an European background with a primarily Judea-Christian religious framing. The lack of tolerance for any chemical 'high' which allowed the 'common man' to escape from the rigors of life was seen as competition for all of the religious groups. Although most didn't think of alcohol that way... water into wine after all; which not surprisingly might have been due to the fact that most of the vineyards were church/government owned.

    Fast forward to the modern era. The pharmaceutical companies keep feeding this utterly failed policy of prohibition because it lines their pockets. Xanax doesn't want to go up against cannabis because it will lose. Every single reputable study seems to say the same thing. Legalize nearly everything. Tax it heavily using the revenue generated for mental health care, regular health care, and rehabilitative services. The result is as follows:

    1.) Vastly reduced crime and violence associated with 'illicit drugs'.

    2.) Vastly reduced costs of incarceration and criminal justice system with a much lower percentage of population in 'jail'; which, of course, goes a long way to reducing single parent households, poverty, poor education rates, etc.

    3.) Control... control... control... If you legalize and regulate the quality is consistent and more importantly the 'relative' safety of the chemical is ensured. I.E. no more poisoning incidents which are far more prevalent than the politicians would like to admit.

    4.) Much better tracking of the 'substances' in order to reduce the potential for being placed into juvenile hands. Oh yes, don't get me wrong there must be both stringent and punitive age controls placed on drugs. I would also use funds generated to create a mandatory drug education program for all children starting at 1st grade and continuing through high school; which, via video of drug addicts, talks from former addicts, etc. ensures that anyone who does choose to use a 'substance' as an adult is making an informed decision about the risks.

    I guarantee you that if the USA did this we could balance our national budget within 3 years and within 15 years we could pay off the national debt. Yet, we don't... why is this? The 'morality' of saying some drug is 'illegal' but not alcohol. After all when you count up the deaths that are 'alcohol related' the numbers are staggering. Yet, we don't... why is this? My favorite is the 'it damages the fabric of the family' argument. So, arresting a 20 year old man for having a relatively small amount of drugs on him and putting him into prison for a decade is improving the fabric? Yet, we don't... why is this?

    I hope Barack Obama is right and this really is a 'time of change'. We desperately need change. It's time for the 'squares' to take back the deal from the corporate controlled government we've had for decades who naturally look out for no one's interests but their own. What happened to 'We the People'? Cut and paste what I wrote and email it to your Representative and Senator. Let's all tell them at once... you either fix the insurance industry, stop letting the credit card companies get away with usury (loan 'sharking'), and give us a sane 'drug policy' or we will vote all of you out of office... regardless of party.


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  • 77. At 03:39am on 15 May 2009, Nom DePlume wrote:

    P.S. I realized I forgot a few of the benefits when I read through my note.

    5.) Vast reduction in the funding available to terrorist organizations such as the Taleban, and for 'rogue' regimes such as North Korea.

    6.) Revert vast tracks of land currently being used for drug production in areas of starvation to growing food.

    7.) Just legalizing Cannabis opens up an enormous source of 'bio-fuel' as science already knows it is far better (1000 Liters of Ethanol per acre vs. only approx. 600 Liters for sugar cane which is the 'best' of the edible choices) than soy beans, corn, etc. and is non-edible, requires much less water, grows in almost any soil type, provides several 'crops' per year and can be used for a host of other substances including paper, rope, cloth, soaps, lubricating oils, ad infinitum...

    8.) What about the known medical BENEFITS of certain drugs? It is an accepted fact by science and medicine that Cannabis use provides pain relief (it is far and away the best naturally occurring analgesic), reduction in glaucoma symptoms, acts as an appetite 'inducer' for chemotherapy patients, reduces blood pressure, etc. These are what we know it does with just the minimal study we've been allowed by law. If you allow Pfizer, Merck, etc. a shot at bringing them into the lab for regular study who knows what pharmacological advances would happen?

    9.) Bring back personal responsibility into our culture. It's time we stop allowing government to 'baby sit' us as adults. People talk about obesity's impact on health care costs... meanwhile, they drove to the meeting on roads where MILLIONS of people are killed each year world wide. Life is a risk folks where the 'house' always wins in the end when you die. Sometimes 'fun' costs you. What's next no sports for kids because after all children get hurt?

    10.) Last but certainly not least. Common sense tells anyone who thinks about it that the hypocrisy of our 'drug policy' is doomed to failure. There is simply far too much money involved when it is a criminal enterprise for our law enforcement agencies to even make a significant dent in the supply. In fact, the more successful the 'raids/seizures' are the more money the 'drug lords' make because it doesn't stop the sales it just raises the prices.

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