The British government has rejected its own drug advisory panel's call for easing the penalties for using and selling ecstasy, Reuters reported Feb. 11.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended that ecstasy be downgraded to a class B drug from its current class A status.
“After looking at all the evidence presented to us and considering the harmfulness to individuals and society alongside other drugs within the same classification, the ACMD concluded that (ecstasy) should be reclassified to a class B drug,” said chairman David Nutt.
However, Britain's Home Office — the lead government department for drug policy — said that it will ignore the recommendation, even though the ACMD is a component of the agency. “The government firmly believes ecstasy should remain a class A drug,” a Home Office spokesman said.
Ecstasy is currently grouped with drugs like heroin, crack cocaine, and LSD in the class A category, with possession punishable by a prison sentence of up to seven years. The reclassification would have grouped ecstasy with marijuana and amphetamines, with a maximum punishment for possession of five years.