Letter dated 30 January 2009 from the
Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office
to Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser
Thank you for your letter of 20 January setting
out your concerns about the Guardian article of 5 January. The
article does accurately reflect the Government's position in that
we currently have no intention to reclassify ecstasy and it is
my view that it should remain at Class A.
You express concern that this view may pre-empt the
advice of the ACMD on ecstasy which I will receive in early February.
I do not consider that it is preempting the advice of the ACMD
when I say that the Government believes that there is no safe
dose of ecstasy, that it can and does kill unpredictably and,
therefore, we have no intention of reclassifying the drug. I have
not yet received the ACMD's advice nor the evidence upon which
it is based so am unable to comment upon it.
I should emphasise that I value the advice of the
ACMD and it helps to shape the Government drugs policy in a number
of waysclassification being but one of those. With specific
regard to classification, as you recognise, there are other considerations,
which we need to carefully consider. The fact that I may disagree
with a small number of their recommendations should not obscure
the valuable work they do in a field which, I agree, is one where
the decisions are often difficult.
You kindly offer to assist me in considering
alternative approaches to linking the harms caused by drugs and
the criminal justice system. Whilst I am not currently considering
such a review, not least as I have recently commissioned a review
of how the ACMD works, if, following the review, decide to look
again at the classification system I will ensure my officials
work closely with you.
I am copying this letter to Sir Gus O'Donnell,
Sir David Normington, and Paul Wiles.