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Ecstasy not so safe – Leo Schep

Posted in Reflections On Science on June 23rd, 2015.

Dr Leo Schep, a toxicologist at the National Poisons Centre, University of Otago, argues against claims that MDMA is relatively safe and could be regulated in New Zealand, in an opinion piece on the New Zealand Herald website.

hi-octane-pillsAn excerpt (read in full here):

Leo Schep: Ecstasy not the safe party drug advocates claim

In May 2010, 12 people attending a rave party at a venue called the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, experienced life-threatening complications requiring immediate medical attention; symptoms included seizures and hyperthermia with resultant muscle breakdown and kidney failure.

Two died and four had permanent brain and muscle damage and/or kidney injury. Blood samples from those affected and confiscated tablets from the event identified Ecstasy without evidence of other recreational drugs.

Ecstasy, also known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA, is a recreational drug that is widely used in the party scene in part because of its perceived low toxicity and its recognised euphoric properties. It is an amphetamine-like drug in the same class as methamphetamine, amphetamine and the various “bath salts”. Most of the drugs within this class cause similar adverse effects, though the intensity and risk of injury may vary.

Yes, Ecstasy has a lower risk of toxicity when compared with other recreational drugs, but that risk still remains (I counted 202 published reports of toxicity requiring medical attention).

It is still an amphetamine and, as with all drugs of that class, there is a real risk of suffering adverse events that in some instances may be life-threatening.

In light of what we know about Ecstasy, it should remain banned and not become available for legal recreational use.

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