Pubdate: Mon, 19 Aug 2002
Source: Centre Daily Times (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Nittany Printing and Publishing Co., Inc.
Author: Diane Fornbacher
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Raves)


A bill proposed by Sen. Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, would cause Ecstasy 
dealers to face the same penalties as heroin dealers. This is another 
example on the part of an elected official of either inexcusable ignorance 
or pandering to the public.

According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 
Administration, only nine deaths were reported in which Ecstasy was 
involved during 1998, and other drugs were found along with Ecstasy in six 
of the nine. Compare that with 110,640 deaths from legal alcohol in 1996.

Ecstasy (MDMA) is a semi-synthetic drug patented by Merck Pharmaceutical 
Company in 1914 and abandoned for 60 years. In the late 1970s and early 
1980s psychiatrists and psychotherapists in the United States used it to 
facilitate psychotherapy.

Ecstasy's effects last 3 to 6 hours. It is a mood elevator that produces 
feelings of empathy, openness and well-being. People who take it at 
all-night "rave" dances say they enjoy dancing and feeling close to others. 
It does not produce violence or physical addiction.

As reported in 1996 by C. M. Milroy and others in volume 49 of the Journal 
of Clinical Pathology, Ecstasy slightly raises body temperature. This is 
potentially lethal in hot environments where there is vigorous dancing and 
the lack of adequate fluid replacement. Deaths are preventable with simple 
harm-reduction techniques such as having free water available and rooms 
where people can rest and relax.

Deaths from adulterated drugs are another consequence of a zero-tolerance 
approach. The drug should be tested for purity to minimize the risk from 
adulterated drugs by those who consume it.

I would be more confident and relaxed if more young people were dancing and 
talking all night than guzzling six-packs of beer, driving while 
intoxicated, and making poor judgments under the influence of alcohol. 
Those who equate benign Ecstasy with dangerous heroin should recall the 
dangerous practices of the usual State College pastimes of swilling, 
rioting and building-jumping and falling -- examples of unacceptable 
behavior fueled by alcohol.

For additional information on Ecstasy, interested parties should visit and

Diane R. Fornbacher, Executive Director

Tri-State Drug Policy Forum

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