Taking the drug ecstasy is no more dangerous than riding a horse, a senior advisor has suggested.
Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), outlined his view in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
The council, which advises the government, is expected next week to recommend that ecstasy is downgraded from a class A drug to a class B one. Ministers have outlined their opposition to any such move.
Professor Nutt wrote: “Drug harm can be equal to harms in other parts of life.There is not much difference between horse-riding and ecstasy.”
The professor said horse-riding accounted for more than 100 deaths a year, and went on: “This attitude raises the critical question of why society tolerates – indeed encourages – certain forms of potentially harmful behaviour but not others such as drug use.”
Ecstasy use is linked to around 30 deaths a year, up from 10 a year in the early 1990s. Fatalities are caused by massive organ failure from overheating or the effects of drinking too much water.