A Government drug advisory group will meet today to examine the harm caused by ecstasy.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs could eventually recommend the drug is downgraded from class A to class B.

The meeting will consist of presentations from experts on how the drug, also known as MDMA, affects users.

The council's final report on the drug is due to be published next year.

Even then, the decision on whether to reclassify ecstasy will ultimately be made by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Ecstasy can and does kill unpredictably; there is no such thing as a 'safe dose'.

"The Government firmly believes that ecstasy should remain a Class A drug."

A 2006 Science and Technology Committee report found drugs should be rated purely on the basis of health and social risks and not legal punishments.

The committee said police saw the classification system as of "little importance" at present, and urged ministers to detach penalties from the harm ranking of drugs.

It said reviews of drug classifications were launched "as knee-jerk responses to media storms" and said alcohol and tobacco should be included in the ratings system.

Ecstasy is the third most popular illegal drug in the UK, and claims around 50 lives each year.

Earlier this year North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom provoked outrage by claiming it was safer than aspirin.