Canadian Health Chief Condones "Safe" Ecstasy Use

By Gabrielle Wuhl 06/14/12

A top Canadian health official says pure MDMA should be regulated like alcohol.

Ecstasy: safe for adults? Photo via

British Columbia’s top health official claims there's no agony in a little ecstasy—as long as you use it responsibly. According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, the risks of MDMA—the pure form of the street drug ecstasy—are largely exaggerated. Kendall even advocates that MDMA be legalized and sold through licensed, government-run stores for those who use the drug for non-recreational purposes. He calls the issue a "political, perceptual one," pointing out that “we accept the fact that alcohol, which is inherently dangerous, is a product over a certain age that anybody can access." However, Kendall doesn't back the drug as sold on the street, and cautions: "Unless you are getting [MDMA] from a psychiatrist in a legitimate clinical trial, you can't guarantee what's in it, how much of it there is, or its safety—don't take it.” Not all officials are willing to condone "safe" ecstasy use. Sargent Duncan Pound says "We would view ecstasy as extremely dangerous," and says that law enforcement doesn't distinguish between MDMA and street ecstasy, "not only given the fact that it's very hard to determine what might be in any given tablet, but the fact that there's such an individual reaction to those tablets." According to Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, even small doses of MDMA can have side-effects which include sweating, teeth grinding, anxiety, nausea and convulsions—but most deaths from ecstasy are the result of dehydration and overheating among young people who take the drug at nightclubs. Pound says that nearly 20 British Columbians who consume street ecstasy die each year.

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