Thursday, 18 September 2008

Ebeneezer Goode

There's a nice scare-mongering report in the Sun today.

You may not be aware of it, but the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has got around to reviewing the status of Ecstasy (see the various reports on the Transform blog for background information).

The Sun claims that the government is planning to downgrade E from a Class A to a Class B drug. This is a complete lie! All the Council is doing is having a look at the evidence regarding the old Disco Biccies to see whether it is appropriate for it to fall within the Class A guidelines. It will then prepare a report on this which will be submitted to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary.

The Sun's report quotes the Tory spokesperson Ann Widdecome who makes the moronic claim that the government should have learned its lesson regarding the cannabis debacle, stating that they had to reverse their decision to downgrade it. She is completely wrong. Until last May, the government had not overruled the Council, but after it prepared another report on Cannabis - again stating that it should have remained a Class C drug, due to it being low risk and there being a significant drop in its usage since it was downgraded - the government decided to appease the tabloids and put it back to a Class B, completely ignoring its own expert's report. The Sun doesn't challenge her at all, instead repeating her claims as fact. Widdecome also maintains that we have to "Send a message" about its use. Again the Sun doesn't challenge her, seemingly supporting the "Nanny State"...

The Sun had already nailed its colours to the mast back in May is it slated the head of the Council (Prof. David Nutt, who the Sun calls the UK's "Drugs Czar") for daring to even suggest that they should look at the evidence regarding E's status and whether the current status can be justified by any empirical evidence.

One trick the Sun misses in its coverage this time around is not to bring up the name of Leah Betts who died back in 1995 after taking a contaminated tablet. Back in May the Sun infers that she died due to the tablet itself. However, at an inquest it was determined that she actually died due to drinking too much water: the extraordinary volume of 7 litres in 90 minutes.

The Council is due to publish its report sometime next year. I can already guess how the Sun will cover it...

On the plus side, the majority of the Sun's readers are opposed to its take on the matter, for the reasons given above.


Anonymous said...

Nice. Three different messages in the first four paragraphs:

PLANS to downgrade

drugs panel meets next Friday to review evidence

could advise that the drug is reclassified

Tim said...

Widdy should calm down, have a choccie and think before she speaks about these things.

Jack said...

However, at an inquest it was determined that she actually died due to drinking too much water: the extraordinary volume of 7 litres in 90 minutes.

I'm playing devil's advocate here, but doesn't ecstasy cause you to feel like you need more and more water? And so water poisoning is a risk of taking the drug?

Anonymous said...

No ectasy doesn't make you feel like you need to drink lots of water.
It's really hard to explain, but what most likely happened was that Leah was warned to keep drinking water so she didn't overheat and overcompensated.

Gwyn said...

It doesn't necessarily make people want to drink lots of water, but it does mean that doing so can be dangerous.

By the way, I don't think any evidence that Betts' pill was contaminated has come to light (and even if it had it wouldn't have any relevance to her death).