In a new piece from The Guardian, the publication enlists two Australian experts on drug use and policy to field some basic but nonetheless pressing questions about ecstasy. This follows the much-publicized deaths of two Australians at the recent multi-city Stereosonic festival.
There, Alex Wodak and Gideon Warhaft write that young people consider ecstasy "a better, gentler and more social drug than alcohol, especially in dance music settings." They elaborate, saying that when people buy ecstasy, they hope to be buying MDMA, "a psychoactive drug with weak stimulant and hallucinogenic effects."
People have died when they thought or were told what they were taking was MDMA, but it was really contaminated by dangerous variants, PMA or PMMA, which "really are dangerous." Wodak and Warhaft blame the instances of contamination on the fact that "the black market manufactures the drug with unknown quality controls and expertise."
In response to the question "Is MDMA really a dangerous drug?" they offer the following:
"While all drug use, recreational or otherwise, can cause harm, pure MDMA is one of the least dangerous drugs known. Indeed, it is much less dangerous than drugs like alcohol, tobacco or cannabis. MDMA is rarely habit-forming. The vast majority of people only take MDMA in the context of dancing or partying. MDMA fatalities do occur but are extremely rare in comparison with the hundreds of thousands of doses taken every year in Australia. Professor David Nutt, a distinguished expert, was sacked from an official UK position for estimating in 2009 that the risk of death was greater from horse riding than from taking ecstasy."
They also mention that there is "some evidence MDMA may be useful for treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder," which we have previously reported on. Additionally, they offer the advice towards the future of Australia's drug policing efforts: "Australia should scrap saturation policing with sniffer dogs at youth music dance events and follow the Europeans: we should allow drug checking and evaluate the benefits and costs."
Read the piece in full here.
Follow Alexander on Twitter.