Wednesday, 8 February 2012

What should be done to those who push Ecstasy on our children?

The chemical name for ecstasy is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). It is used as a stimulant and as a hallucinogen. It is a street drug that is only made in illegal labs. It is usually sold as a tablet, capsule, or powder. The tablets vary in shape, size, colour, and in the amount of ecstasy they contain. They may even be stamped with a logo. This does not guarantee how pure the tablet is. In fact, some of the pills are deadly. Tablets may not have any ecstasy in them at all. They may contain cornstarch, soaps and detergents, or contain other drugs, such as caffeine, ephedrine, methamphetamine, LSD, PCP and ketamine.

After taking ecstasy, the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain. In the brain, it causes the release of a neurotransmitter called serotonin as well as two other neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline). Serotonin influences mood, sleep and appetite. It usually takes about an hour to feel the effects. The effects of a single dose may last for three to six hours.

The effects of ecstasy are unpredictable. It is different for everyone. The way someone feels after taking ecstasy depends on many factors such as age and weight, mood, expectations, and environment, medical or psychiatric conditions, the amount of ecstasy taken (dose), how often and for how long ecstasy has been used, use of other drugs, including non-prescription, prescription and other street drugs.

Ecstasy may also produce pleasant feelings and a sense of well-being (euphoria), friendliness, empathy, and closeness to others. All amphetamines, including ecstasy, produce a sense of energy and confidence. It is for this reason that children are so willing to take ecstasy.

However, the effects of ecstasy are unpredictable. Some people may experience panic attacks or anxiety. Short-term use of ecstasy can produce many other effects such as decreased appetite, increased blood pressure and heart rate, teeth grinding and jaw pain, nausea and vomiting. In addition, a person could potentially experience, distortion of perception, paranoia and hallucinations.

Some people develop flashbacks, delusions, hallucinations, and psychotic symptoms that last after the effects of ecstasy have worn off. Ecstasy can be addictive, but physical dependence is rare. People can quickly become tolerant to the effects of ecstasy with regular use. It is not uncommon for the drug to take on an exaggerated importance in a person's life.

A number of ecstasy-related deaths fall into this category. Use of ecstasy by itself in a hot environment such as a club will increase body temperature. Ecstasy also causes a certain amount of hyperactivity in users. Combined with vigorous dancing in a humid and possibly overcrowded venue for hours on end can cause body temperature to rise over the danger limit of 40 degrees Celsius with symptoms that include convulsions, dilated pupils, very low blood pressure, and accelerated heart rate.

The ingestion of Ecstasy increases in body temperature. (hyperthermia) When you combine the increase in body temperature with physical activity such as dancing and a warm environment, the situation can become worse. This increase in body temperature as well as the increase in blood pressure and heart rate can lead to kidney or heart failure, strokes and seizures. Some people drink too much water to avoid dehydration. This can result in dangerously low salt levels in the blood, which can lead to confusion, convulsions and delirium and can progress quickly to coma and death from the swelling of the brain.

Death is also caused by respiratory collapse resulting from disseminated intravascular coagulation. What seems to happen is that MDMA somehow reacts with the chemicals that control blood coagulation meaning that blood coagulates where it shouldn't, such as in the lungs; air cannot get through and the person dies.

Suffocating to death is a horrible way to die. Also if all the blood clotting agent has been used up at inappropriate sites, then the blood might not coagulate where it should and there is a risk of haemorrhaging from all the internal lesions that the human body normally sustains without problems.

Cheryl McCormack, 17, of Abbotsford, died after popping ecstasy with her high school friends during a sleepover. They thought it would help them lose weight.
Leonard Timothy’s heart stopped beating after coming home from the bar one night — the 38-year-old Red Deer father of two had taken an ecstasy pill.

The mother of 18-year-old Calgarian Daniel Dahl remembers watching her son’s brains bleed out his nose in the emergency room after he overdosed on ecstasy, his body temperature rising so rapidly that he was cooked from the inside.

These are just some in a spate of ecstasy-related deaths that have marched a morbid path through southern Alberta and British Columbia in the past few months, spurring public awareness campaigns and scaring parents and partiers. Over the past year and until now, there have been 19 deaths in B.C. and 12 in Alberta related to ecstasy overdoses —at least five in the past few weeks alone and that is just in two of Canada’s provinces.

Thirteen of those total deaths, which all occurred late last year and last month, have been linked to paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) a chemical turning up inside Canadian ecstasy — which was once the street name for MDMA, or methylenedioxymethamphetamine, but has come to mean any pill passing itself off as MDMA even if it’s been so adulterated as to hardly be like the original drug. PMMA, known on the street as “Doctor Death,” is considered five times more toxic than run-of-the-mill street ecstasy. It was in the pill that Mr. Timothy took.

As police try to trace the path of this especially lethal brand of ecstasy, they are once again spreading the message that law enforcement, schools and other government bodies have been spreading for decades: Don’t touch the stuff. Just say no.
At the same time, that message isn’t working. The use of illegal drugs has not declined in recent years and there are a great many young people who engage in risky behaviour, like taking drugs. Some people say that the way to prevent these deaths is to accept the realization that young and foolish people will still take ecstasy despite the warnings so give them a safer means of taking the drug by making sure that it isn’t as harmful as those drugs that are sold on the street.

That concept is ridiculous. There is only one way to stop the sale of this dangerous and illicit drug and that is to go after the pushers, distributors and manufacturers and punish them severely. I will deal with that aspect in this article later. Now I will give you more info about the dangers of taking this drug.

Since early January, B.C.’s medical officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, has woven advice to drug users into his public comments on the ecstasy-related deaths in his province. Users should just take one pill instead of several at a time (as some of the overdosers have done), they should keep hydrated and make sure there’s a sober person there to help if something goes wrong. They should also know their dealers so they have a better idea of where the drugs came from. I suppose that makes a lot of sense but it can be interpreted by young people as him approving the use of the drug by young people.

Tyler Miller, the only child of Laurie Mossey and Russ Miller, died from an overdose of the party drug ecstasy, in late November. Russ Miller said,

“I understand the concerns. If nobody was doing drugs, I wouldn’t go out with a message saying ‘Here’s how to do drugs safely, But given we have a substantial portion of vulnerable populations doing drugs, and given that police don’t seem to be able to stop the importation or the manufacturing of drugs, the issue is how do you best deal with the situation you have? How do you mitigate risk?”

After cannabis and cocaine, ecstasy is one of the most popular drugs in Canada. Approximately 1% of Canadians said they used it in 2009, the government-funded Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey reports. There are at least 34 million people living in Canada. One percent of that number is 34 thousand people using ecstasy. That is 34,000 people who are at risk every year.

“That might seem small, but when we put it into context it’s certainly an epidemic,” said Tyler Pirie, a research and policy analyst for the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Ecstasy is so consistently adulterated that when pure MDMA turns up on the street, it’s likely be to sold on the street under the name MDMA or sometimes “Molly.” Corporal Luc Chicoine, the national co-ordinator for the RCMP’s pharmaceutical and synthetic drug operations, has worked on the street in drug operations for 18 years and said he can’t remember ever seeing pure MDMA, which is being considered in other countries for potential treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“From what we’ve seen in last three years, if there’s MDMA there’s almost always meth” in the same tablet or powder, he said, referring to methamphetamine, the highly addictive stimulant. He’s also seen MDMA cut with metallic glitter and car paint to give it an exciting look (it sells better that way, he said). Because of the clandestine nature of the way the drugs are made, it’s almost impossible to ensure its safety, Cpl. Chicoine said, adding that one can’t even trust a dealer since drugs can change hands and end up modified dozens of times before they’re ingested.

But there are ways for drug users to test for chemicals lurking in their drugs. U.S.-based organization has been selling test kits — made from a solution of selenious acid in sulfuric acid — that identify certain chemicals so one knows the makeup of the pill or powder they’re ingesting.

DanceSafe sets up booths at parties and raves to test drugs for partiers, just as government workers in the Netherlands, Norway, Austria and Switzerland have been known to do.

Trip, a harm reduction peer-initiative run by a public health clinic in Toronto, has obtained test kits carried surreptitiously over the border (they’ve been seized in the past), and handed them out to volunteers who help people test their own drugs at house parties. The volunteer can’t test the drugs for the user because that would be considered trafficking under Canadian law, said Lisa Campbell Salazar, a former co-ordinator of Trip and current co-ordinator of the Queen West Harm Reduction Program at the Central Toronto Community Health Centre. Trip will still go to parties, many of them underground since the rave scene fizzled out, hand out information and ensure people stay hydrated to keep their body temperatures down.
They also counsel users if they need someone to talk to since MDMA has been known to open up people’s emotions.

Ms. Campbell Salazar, 28, is herself a recreational user of MDMA, which she differentiates from ecstasy. She always tests her drugs with home testing kits —something older, more dedicated users are more likely to do than the kids are — but thinks the government can save lives by making information about lethal drug concoctions known. It makes me wonder why a 28-year-old is still taking illicit drugs just to get high. This silly woman said, “If Health Canada were to release drug information, not just for judicial purposes but for public health, it definitely would save lives.” unquote She is right about the public should be more informed about the dangerous effects of Ecstasy but in my opinion she is wrong about making test equipment available to users.

Think about it. Suppose your child was at a party and one of those at the party was selling Ecstasy pills. And suppose your child had testing equipment and tested the drug and the test result showed that it was dangerous. And during the party, others took the drug and other than appearing to be high, there didn’t appear to be any dangerous side effects. Would your child ignore the warning? It is quite possible that he or she would. And then later, your child along with the others who took the drug began suffering from the side effects and died. So much for the proposal that it will be safe if users have testing equipment with them before they take the drug.

Health Canada has sophisticated drug testing that can determine chemical compounds found in drugs seized by the RCMP, said Cpl. Chicoine. It does not share the results of any of these tests with the public, said Gary Holub, a Health Canada spokesperson, adding that home test kits are unreliable. The test kits can only identify the presence of additives that the user is specifically testing for: a test for meth, for instance, might not tell you if the pill contains PMMA.
The best way to avoid harm from illicit drugs, including ecstasy, is to avoid using them. Education is the best tool both harm-reduction advocates and those advising abstinence have at hand.

The only reason why those drugs are being produced is because somebody, somewhere is making a great deal of money on every $5 or $10 on one or two tablets that is purchased. If there is money involved and with no regulation and control, someone’s going to make a lot of money and they don’t care what they put in. They don’t care about the user.”

Legalization would only increase the ranks of people taking ecstasy. There are enough junkies on the street. I am referring to people who guzzle mouthwash and hand sanitizer or sniff gas and glue, all items you can buy in a shop. Do we really need more junkies?

In August 2008, it was established that Canadian criminals were among the world's top suppliers of the drug Ecstasy, according to a report by Canadian law enforcement agencies on organized crime. Their report cited Belgium and the Netherlands as other significant sources of the drug.

In August 2010, US federal officials said that they have broken up a Southern California ring that sold millions of Ecstasy tablets. The United States attorney's office said a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted 15 people for conspiracy to possess and distribute huge quantities of the drug. The authorities said the ring was based in the San Gabriel Valley, where a huge drug laboratory was found. Over the previous seven months, federal agents and the police seized more than one million Ecstasy pills with an estimated street value of $17 million.

In December 2010, a United States Customs agent was charged with trying to smuggle large quantities of drug money and guns through Atlanta’s busy airport in a case that led undercover federal investigators to millions of dollars’ worth of the drug Ecstasy. A three-month investigation led to the discovery of $2.8 million worth of Ecstasy, one of the largest seizures of the drug ever.

In May 2011, two Indo-Canadian security screeners at Vancouver airport have been charged after a drug bust that netted 15 kilos of ecstasy pills known as MDMA. Gurvinder Singh Pahl, 24 and Ajitpal Singh Judge, 31 who were uniformed pre-board screening officers, were arrested on May 20, 2011 following an investigation. The investigation began after a third man was caught with the drugs at the airport on May 9th. Dylan Scott Green, 20, of Vancouver was arrested on the same charges as Pahl and Judge.

Patrick Hayes Wellman, 20, was sentenced in September 2011 in U.S. District Court t to 5 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to distribution of Ecstasy and carrying of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. He'll be on probation for three years after his release.

The DEA began investigating Wellman in March after a confidential informant told them Wellman sold large quantities of Ecstasy and repeatedly said he could obtain as many pills as he wished.

Penalties for Drug Related Charges Involving Ecstasy in the State of New Jersey.
Amount of Ecstasy Crime Degree Penalties

1/2 ounce or less 3rd Degree Crime 3-5 years in prison, and up to $75,000 in fines

Under 5 grams but more than 1/2 ounce 2nd Degree Crime 5-10 years in prison

5 ounces or more 1st Degree Crime 10-20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines

If you are convicted of distribution of ecstasy, in addition to the above penalties, you will be ineligible for parole between a period one-third and one-half of the sentence. You may also be required to pay up to $500,000 in additional fines and if you don’t pay the fines, then you will spend more time in prison.

In the United States, a person who is convicted of manufacturing or distributing 50 grams or more of Ecstasy may be sentenced to a prison sentence of 10 years to life and/or be required to pay a fine of up to $4 million if the defendant is an individual. Where death or serious injury results from the distribution of the drug, the penalties increase to 20 years to life in prison and/or a fine of $8 million for an individual defendant.

In the UK, Ecstasy is a Class-A drug, alongside heroin and cocaine, with extreme penalties for possession and supply. The relevant statute is the Misuse of Drugs Act, and it deals with the issue of certain drugs being used for non-medical purposes. The maximum penalty for possession of a Class A drug is seven years in prison. The judge in the case can also impose a fine of any amount he or she considers appropriate. There is no limit to the amount that a person may be ordered to pay on conviction for this offense. A person who is convicted of supplying a Class A substance may be sentenced to life in prison. A fine of any amount may also be imposed, as well and there is no limit to the amount that the accused may be required to pay.

In Canada, Ecstasy is under the jurisdiction of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Possession of Ecstasy, which is considered a Schedule III drug, can be tried as either a summary or an indictable offense.

If the possession charge is dealt with as a summary offense, (misdemeanor) the penalty on conviction for a first offense is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
A subsequent conviction as a summary offense carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.

Where a case of possession of the Ecstasy is being treated as an indictable offense, (felony) the penalties on conviction are higher. In this situation, the accused may be sent to prison for up to 10 years.

Where a person is convicted of possessing Ecstasy for the purpose of either importing or exporting the drug, the penalties are as follows:

For a summary conviction, the punishment is 18 month in jail.
If the matter is treated as an indictable offense, the penalty is up to 10 years in prison.

Producing Ecstasy is also a criminal offense under Canadian law. It can be treated as a summary or indictable offense. On summary conviction, the penalty is up to 18 months in prison. The penalty for an indictable offense is up to 10 years imprisonment.

When a judge is making a sentencing decision, the law gives the court discretion to consider the circumstances of the crime, including the following:

Whether a weapon was carried or used.

Whether the accused used (or threatened to use) violence.

If the offense was committed near a school or another public place where children are likely to congregate such as a rave.

Whether the accused supplied drugs to a person under the age of 18.

If the accused has a prior record for a drug-related offense.
Whether the accused enlisted the help of a person under the age of 18 to commit the offense.

When one or more of these factors exist, the judge will likely sentence the accused to prison, as opposed to imposing a fine.

I for one don’t think that the penalties in Canada with respect to the producing or trafficking in ecstasy are severe enough. In Canada, the penalty for the production of cocaine, heroin or hashish can be life in prison. I think the same penalty should be the same for the production of Ecstasy. Life in prison is the penalty for trafficking in cocaine or heroin or possession for the purpose of trafficking. I think it should also be the same for trafficking in Ecstasy.

Life in prison in Canada doesn’t necessarily mean natural life. Such a felon can be released after serving seven years but if someone dies as a result of the Ecstasy that person manufactured or was trafficking in, in my opinion, that person should never be released from prison.

Mind you, if you are caught importing or exporting or trafficking in this drug in certain countries, you may very well be hanged or executed by a firing squad. At the very least, you will spend quite a few years in prison.

In 2001, in the United States, there were as many as 5,542 people who died after ingesting Ecstasy. If the same number of people also died each year between the years 2000 and 2011, then the number of deaths in this century in the United States would be, 60,962.

That being the case, don’t you agree with me that the penalties for manufacturing importing and trafficking in Ecstasy should be extremely severe? If not, you will if one of your children dies because he or she ingested some Ecstasy so that some punk could make some money from the sale of the drug.

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