UK Govt. drug advisors ecstasy-horse riding comparison fuels furore

February 7th, 2009 - 5:57 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 7 (ANI): A Brit government official has created a furore by suggesting that addiction to ecstasy is not more dangerous than riding a horse.

Government drug advisor Prof David Nutt, wrote in an academic journal that taking ecstasy was no worse than the risks of “equasy”, a term he used to describe people’’s addiction to horse-riding.

However, campaigners have raised voices against his comments, and demanded his resignation as the chairman of the Home Office’’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which is expected to announce next week that ecstasy should be downgraded to a Class B drug.

The campaigners claim that Nutts comment was part of his personal crusade” to decriminalise the drug.

Nutt said that he wanted to weigh the risks of horse-riding with the drug to open a debate about drug abuse and risk taking.

“The point was to get people to understand that drug harm can be equal to harms in other parts of life. There is not much difference between horse riding and ecstasy, the Telegraph quoted Prof Nutt as saying.

In the article, titled Equasy: An overlooked addiction with implications for the current debate on drug harms, Nutt wrote that “equasy”, short for “Equine Addiction Syndrome”, had caused 10 deaths and more than 100 road traffic accidents a year.

“Dependence, as defined by the need to continue to use, has been accepted by the courts in divorce settlements. Based on these harms, it seems likely that the ACMD would recommend control under the MDAct perhaps as a class A drug given it appears more harmful than ecstasy,” he wrote.

He also said that the risks of horse riding showed that society “does not adequately balance the relative risks of drugs against their harms”.

He said: “Making riding illegal would completely prevent all these harms and would be, in practice, very easy to do.

“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.”

There were plenty of other “risky activities such as base jumping, climbing, bungee jumping, hang-gliding, motorcycling” which were worse than which “many illicit drugs”.

Nutt, who is an academic at Bristol University and Imperial College, London, wrote the article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. (ANI)

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