Psychoactive drugs require different policies for individual substances based on their danger potential, the severity of danger, and the patterns of usage. Certain drugs create a potentially higher risk of loss of self control. The experiences and possible prolonged effects of ecstasy, even after discontinuation of use, are cause for strict regulation prohibiting the use, possession and distribution of ecstasy.
Some psychoactive drugs are legal such as alcohol and tobacco, despite the medical dangers associated with prolonged use. This is partially due to the fact that they are not only considered socially acceptable, but the risks are also significantly miniscule in comparison to other psychoactive substances. Recently there has also been attention diverted to the legalization of marijuana, whose risks are also considerably minor, and it also contains the capacity to greatly benefit the medicinal society for various reasons. Any activity that diminishes normal capacity for self control can create dangers for those who engage in it and for those around them. Drugs that threaten self control either through intoxication or addiction, are therefore matters of social as well as personal concern (www.fas.org). Taking into consideration this ideology, drugs should be classified as legal of illegal based on the extent to which lack of self control and the inherent dangers associated with the drug, be they physical or psychological, are present.
MDMA, more commonly referred to as ecstasy, has potential risk of detrimental long and short term effects on frequent users. Users may sometimes experience confusion, disorientation, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, insomnia, depersonalization, derealization, perceptual disorders, and hallucinations, paranoia, and psychotic phenomena. It is possible that some of these affects may continue for a period after cessation of the drug (www.ecstasy.org). Many consumers of ecstasy are often unaware of the exact compound of what they are purchasing, and quite often the drug is not sold in a pure MDMA form. There have been countless reports in both North America, and more frequently Europe, of ecstasy related deaths. Extended use of the drug has also been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Based on the vast amount of potential danger associated with the use of ecstasy, it is clear that this drug should not be legalized under any circumstances as it poses as a great risk to the safety of an individual.
Ecstasy is currently considered an illicit drug under Canadian legislation, as it should be. However, as with any other drug, prohibition does not entirely eliminate the use and distribution of ecstasy. Efforts need to be increased in providing awareness for users of the risks involved in ecstasy use. Pill testing is one way of ensuring that users are at least confident that what they are consuming is a safe MDMA compound, and not comprised of other substances that may result in fatality or an overdose. Such projects are underway in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Although only the Dutch embrace pill testing and other harm reduction measures for ecstasy as part of official drug policy (www.alternet.org).