Friday, October 08, 2004

Death drug was not ecstasy

The tragic death of a 19-year-old woman last Monday was blamed on the drug ecstasy by the Daily Telegraph yesterday.

However other news media report that the drug was PMA, which reportedly comes in tablets dubbed 'red mitsubishi' because of the three-pointed logo stamped on them, or 'orange CK'.

Ecstasy is the common name given to MDMA, a different drug which is far less dangerous.

People suffering a bad reaction from PMA present with unique symptoms resulting from a breakdown of their body thermostat, and doctors say this is very difficult to treat.

The Telegraph claimed there were 'at least 50 brands of ecstasy, or MDMA on the market,' making its misinformation very specific. It claimed that over 20 people had died in NSW alone since 1995 'since popping the party drug'. This figure was not sourced, and may include non-MDMA drugs.

What's the difference, you might ask -- especially if your information about recreational drugs comes from such inaccurate and sensationalised stories.

In fact it makes a lot of difference. MDMA is a relatively safe drug and the millions using it every weekend around the world know this by experience.

So when presented with the sort of inaccurate demonisation published yesterday by the Tele, many simply discount it as more propaganda, so genuine warnings about dangerous drugs such as PMA or GHB are discounted.

This demonisation is a standard tactic of those who support prohibition and criminalisation. You have to ask why they have to distort the facts to justify their position.

The death of the 19-year-old can equally be blamed on prohibition itself, as the girl and her friends did not seek medical help in time. Teenagers especially are known to avoid getting help because they are scared to admit to using a criminalised substance.

In addition, the supply chain behind these drugs is outside the law, therefore completely deregulated, and purveyors of PMA and GHB commonly mislead innocent buyers by selling their wares as ecstasy.

The far religious right have been screaming that regulated supply of drugs would put teenagers at greater risk.

The above case shows the opposite is true. For a more balanced appraisal of the dangers of MDMA, see a well researched site by clicking the headline. And if you don't believe them, try Dr Norman Swan's rundown at

BTW, we strongly advise people not to take red mitsubishi or orange ck tablets. GHB is often sold as 'liquid ecstasy' and should also be avoided.

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