Pubdate: Thu, 3 Jan 2008
Source: Cambridge Evening News (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Cambridge Newspapers Ltd
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)


FORMER Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Tom Lloyd has backed top police
officer Richard Brunstrom after calls for his resignation, which
resulted from him saying aspirin is more dangerous than Ecstasy.

The North Wales Chief Constable is an ally of Mr Lloyd in the campaign
to legalise Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

They want drugs "taken out of the hands of criminals" in a bid to
reduce crime and save lives.

But maverick Mr Brunstrom, known for targeting speeding drivers,
sparked huge controversy when he called Ecstasy a "remarkably safe
substance, far safer than aspirin".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today (Thursday, 03 January) programme: "There
is a lot of scaremongering, rumour-mongering around Ecstasy. It isn't
borne out by the evidence. Ecstasy is not a safe substance, and I'm
not suggesting that it is. But it is much less dangerous than, for
instance, tobacco and alcohol."

He added: "If you look at the Government's own research into deaths
you'll find that Ecstasy, by comparison to many other substances,
legal and illegal, is comparably a safe substance."

About 400 people in the UK have died from Ecstasy since

Despite the furore and calls for Mr Brunstrom's resignation, Mr Lloyd
defended the chief constable - but would not say he was right on
aspirin and Ecstasy.

He said: "I think he is very much on the right track in terms that
prohibition has failed and we need to do something about illegal drugs
being controlled by criminals rather than by the government.

"Nobody wants people taking drugs of any kind that cause harm whether
it is alcohol or tobacco or indeed illegal drugs.

"Aspirin can be dangerous if you take too many, and Ecstasy is also
dangerous. But it is very difficult to compare the statistics of those
who have died from taking an overdose of aspirin and those rare deaths
from Ecstasy.

"I haven't got the medical knowledge to comment on the dangers of
aspirin compared to Ecstasy, but what Richard is trying to do is
highlight the fact that illegal drugs are in the hands of criminals.
We have to bear in mind that our children could be taking drugs which
we have left in the hands of criminals."

The National Drugs Prevention Alliance has urged Mr Brunstrom to quit
over the controversy.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "The real answer is to get a
grip of the anti-drugs policy and not be seduced by simplistic,
convenient solutions."

Mr Brunstrom also believes a move towards decriminalisation is "10
years away".

But a spokesman for DrugScope, the UK's leading independent centre of
expertise on drugs, said: "Neither the current government nor leaders
of the other parties show any inclination towards drug law reform in
the near future." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake