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Selsdon Man

The Leah Betts story is so old. Where are the stories of other ecstasy-related deaths? The hardliners need to provide fresh evidence.

James Maskell

Marc John Hill Halpin, 20 in Armagh. Louise Giles killed another girl after taking ecstacy in Sheffield. In Trowbridge in September a 29 year old collapsed after suspected ecstasy. Sheena Fenton in Darwen died after taking ecstasy, along with 2 other people coming down with "acute illness". Lisa Gardner in Plymouth. A 15-year old boy killed his own mother with ecstasy.

200 have died due to ecstasy since 1996.

Seartch "ecstasy" under BBC and itll show you some names...

Selsdon Man

That is only 20 a year compared to thousands who die on the roads, falling down stairs and from playing sports.

James Maskell

More people play sports and drive than take ecstasy.

Selsdon Man

It is still low and does not justify the hysteria or the class A classification.

James Maskell

Numbers of deaths where ecstasy is mentioned on the death.

1997=12, 1998=16, 1999=26, 2000=36, 2001=55, 2002=55.

Henry Cook

"200 have died due to ecstasy since 1996."

And how many have died due to heroin? I am sure it must be a lot higher than 200, despite far fewer users.

James Maskell

It doesnt justify treating Ecstasy any less seriously.


JM - I went through all the stats (see posts above) and MDMA is a lot less dangerous overall than other Cat A. Cat B is where cannabis was before its down grade and looks on scientific grounds the more suitable classification and in my opionion would make the law reflect peoples experience.

But its not just "rationality" - its also "the message". Downgrading is presented as acceptance in the media - and the immediate "DC is weak / hip/ less anti drug" response from many on this blog shows that's a widespread response.

Today's report showing massively higher use of cocaine than expected (levels discovered in Thames water) demonstrates to me the seriousness of the problem. 150,000 lines of coke a day in London alone with many users not indulging daily points to country wide user pop - regular & occasional - of half a million or so. We have to find a workable solution and that means a real discussion and appraisal of solutions - not knee jerk reactions.

If it worked I'd be happy to accept all drugs classified as Cat A with stiff penalties - but as Andrew points out even countries with death penalties have major problems. Saudi Arabia has drink & drug problems despite religious police and Sharia Law penalties.

It's a solution that needs to address social harm v individual harm. More importantly it must address protection of minors. I don't know what solution is but what we have now is failing.


So what happens to you if you are caught taking a Class A drug, a Class B drug or a Class C drug for recreational use?

And Selsdon don't you wonder how many road deaths are caused by casual drug users taking to the road? Last April I had a friend travelling north on the A9 in Scotland who was overtaken by a van which then ran into an oncoming car killing the innocent occupants of the other vehicle, the driver of the van survived and it took nine months before the case came to the courts in Scotland, the vehicles involved were all impounded for the nine months leaving all the people involved without their vehicles, the driver who caused the accident was found to have taken drugs and had drugs in the vehicle!

Selsdon Man

A-Tracy, that is a sad story. However, using your logic, we would ban all alcohol drinking. All aspiring Al Capones would rejoice at that.


We have banned drink driving and have regular testing which deters many that would be tempted. When caught drivers lose their licence and often their jobs which causes sufficient hardship and inconvenience them and their families that they repent.

Do we even have drug driving tests? If we do it's not sufficiently advertised.

Selsdon Man

There are strict laws against driving under the influence of drugs. As for tests, I think that blood tests are used.


a tracy
- up to 7 years for A, 5 for B and 2 for C BUT number of prosecutions has been falling as usage rises.
It's the problem the Blessed Miss Widdicombe raised - we have laws we don't enforce. And the response to her saying lets enforce them ? Bye Widdy.
People don't want their own children (or themselves) charged with occasional use of cocaine, MDMA & Hash - widespread in middle class families (even if only "youngful" experimentation) - as that's not a drug problem really is it?
I'm a hypocrite here because I feel the same about myself and my family and friends. I have no problem if DC used Cat A drugs occasionally - as long as he doesn't now - because many in my aquaintance have. Its become part of growing up & that applies as much to my generation (slightly younger than DD) as to DC and those younger.
Meanwhile when experimentation becomes habit ,more families are destroyed, innocent people die, third world countries are detroyed by crime & gang rule.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Whilst I don't doubt that Ecstasy can be harmful, it is not as harmful as heroin or cocaine and for there to be no legal distinction between them is dangerous.

Perhaps a Class A+ would be more to people's taste?

Selsdon Man

You will never have enough police to enforce drug laws. The drug war cannot be won for that reason. You have to tackle the drugs culture through education and treatment.

Obi Wan Kenobi

It's truely amazing that so many educated people can debate what class a drug should be and therefore what punishment should be applied to its taking.

When these substances are taken do you honestly all think that the user bothers to analyse the purity or strength before use? Do they even know where it came from and do they really care.

We are not talking about taking a drug prescribed by a doctor, dispensed by a pharmasist and taking under strict adherance to the doctors instructions.

The class of a drug is irrelavant if the user over doses on drugs that are too pure or from a bad batch cut with other chemicals.

The question that we should all ask ourselves is why do so many people feel the need to take these substances in the first place?

Each year I see old values become reduced further and further, one day they will be gone completely and I for one hope that I am not around to live through the mess that will be substituted in their place.

For the sake of our children we need to have the strength of conviction to say enough is enough and stop the rot now before it goes to far to change.

Today's tolerance of drugs is just another nail in our cofin. What will it be tomorrow lower the age of consent to 12 because all the kids are having sex anyway !!

Sometimes you have to stand up and say THAT IT IS JUST PLAIN WRONG !!


Obi Wan
- exactly how when were these old values extanct. If I look at the last century the first half seems to be war, genocide, depression, mass poverty; then we have the 1950's and apparently it's all downhill from there. So for a few hallowed years post war we had full male employment, with the good woman looking after the house & children, low crime rates, great public transport....all helped by difficult divorce laws, no contraception, imprisonment of homosexuals, no abortion, strong censorship and as for bad girls who did get pregnant!
We might not want to start from here but heres where we are - standing on a street corner with a sandwich board saying ITS ALL WRONG doesn't take us anywhere (except to feel good about ourselves).


a tracy
- up to 7 years for A, 5 for B and 2 for C BUT number of prosecutions has been falling as usage rises.

Thank you Ted, I honestly didn't know which may be part of the problem, 1. no-one knows the punishment and 2. no-one enforces it! Does this mean that Kate Moss could expect upto 7 years inside? however a month in a posh re-hab and she's off the hook - lets hope the police treat 'poor' junkies the same.

Ted "People don't want their own children (or themselves) charged with occasional use of cocaine, MDMA & Hash - widespread in middle class families (even if only "youngful" experimentation) - as that's not a drug problem really is it?"

Are you trying to wind me up Ted?
These boundaries are obviously pointless and arguing over a hypothetical 2 years extra for dabbling with class A or class B is clearly a pointless exercise if no-one bothers to prosecute. If there is one thing I do agree with it is that you have to have enforceable boundaries with community service punishment instead of a prison sentence in a suitably dirty job like cleaning up after all the druggies and binge drinkers in A&E on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

Selsdon - You have to tackle the drugs culture through education.

You don't get a much better class of education than at Cranleigh in Surrey where six boys were expelled recently, they had a 'one puff is enough rule' - didn't stop the priviledged boys did it? At my son's school the drug education program is comprehensive. It also taught him that it isn't illegal to smoke under 16 (which is what I'd told him) but only to buy cigarettes - well I certainly learnt something new.

Henry Cook

I like the Class A+ idea - it should be just for heroin, crack and equally awful drugs. Ecstasy, though awful, is not as awful as these others, and so, if we choose to class our drugs in different categories, these categories should be meaningful. I also agree that we should enforce these laws much more rigourously and fight drugs as hard as possible. This is not antithetical to ensuring the classifications make sense.

Selsdon Man

As a non-smoker who has never taken drugs, I share your concerns, A-Tracy. But, as today's Telegraph story on cocaine use in London shows, drug taking is too widespread to be eliminated by prosecutions.


A bit of wind up but also attempt to look at the real world. I've been a dinner arties, the posh sort, where after the port gets passed around so does the coke... drug laws are becoming an irrelevance.

If Kate had shared her stash - trafficked? - then for Class A the penalty could have been life imprisonment - but to quote the Jagger judge "can you break this butterfly on a wheel?"

We must find a way to tackle this - education backed up by clear, understandable, rational and enforced laws or treatments.

Henry - we already have 3 classes why bring in another? I think the rational place for MDMA is B, along with similiar drugs, leaving the more dangerous in A (though A+ for heroin appeals).

James Maskell

I dont think we need more catagories for drugs. A+ might be confusing. Some people might think an A+ at an A Level is a bad thing and having A+ drugs is good! Seriously though, I dont think theres any real need for an extra catagory.

James Hellyer

Oh my giddy aunt, this is worse than GCSEs!


"And how many people partake of black market alcohol?"

Exactly, because alchol is legal there is no room for a black market. Therefore alchol is safer, However other drugs which are not legal blatantly have black markets. If they were legal then there would be no more 'bad batches' and would be alot safer and stop making drug dealers rich. Just think how much crime would fall and police would be freed up to concentrate on more serious crimes. Sounds good to me.

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