New US Drug Laws Target MDMA
Monday, April 2, 2001American authorities are increasing the penalties against people caught with ecstasy, so that 1 gram of MDMA will soon be treated as being equivalent to 500grams of marijuana, when judges sentence offenders. "Trafficking ecstasy is now serious business," said Judge Joe Kendall, one of the Sentencing Commission members . "What we are voting on here is to raise penalties for ecstasy distribution by in excess of 15 times what it currently is." "This particular drug is abused by our nation's youth," Judge Ruben Castillo, another commission member, said. "That is important because that strikes at the very heart of our country and of what we need to do to try to regulate what could be an epidemic problem."
The new laws, which come into force on the 1st May, were criticised by medical researchers who pointed out that ecstasy is nowhere near as dangerous as other high category drugs like cocaine and heroin. The Federation of American Scientists calling the new sentencing guidelines, "grossly disproportionate" to the dangers presented by ecstasy, and said there was "no justification" in terms of policy or pharmacology for an increase in punishment.
New York University psychiatrist Julie Holland was similarly unimpressed telling the Washington Post, "MDMA is less likely to cause violence than alcohol, less addictive than cocaine or tobacco and less deadly than heroin. I see alcoholics and crack addicts every time I go to work. I do not see people whose lives have been ruined by MDMA…Not only are MDMA-related cases a small percentage of all drug-related emergency room visits, but a large percentage of these cases are not life-threatening," she continued. "The most common adverse effects from acute MDMA intoxication are anxiety or panic reactions."
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