Pro-MDMA Group Opens Ecstasy Shop in Amsterdam
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On Monday, a shop selling “ecstasy” opened its doors in downtown Amsterdam for one day only. The shop was opened by the Young Democrats, a youth wing of the Dutch Liberal Democrats, to promote legalizing the psychoactive drug.
The group says that decriminalizing MDMA, the pure form of street drug ecstasy, would reduce the harms associated with illicit drug use. Unfortunately for fans of ecstasy, the shop had to adhere with Dutch laws, so it handed out placebos in place of actual MDMA pills. But the initiative was meant to show “why regulation is better than leaving the distribution to illegal street dealers,” said the group’s website.
“We don’t want to look the other way and say repression is the best option because it just is not true,” said Young Democrats international officer Milan Asseis. “If you look at marijuana use, the Netherlands is by far the country without the most users. This says that legalization doesn’t mean people start using more of a drug.”
“Legalization creates less criminality, safer pills, and keeps the drug out of the hands of minors,” Asseis added.
Estimates say half a million people in the country have tried ecstasy or some form of MDMA at least once in their lives. There are an estimated 40,000 Dutch people using ecstasy on a monthly basis, according to Dirkjan Tijs, president of the Young Democrats. He said the drug is purchased on the black market and illegally from street dealers, and is often impure or toxic.
"We can prevent minors from buying, make sure there is no overdose [due to] pills and educate people on ways to minimize the risks involved with ecstasy usage,” says the Young Democrats’ website. The group says legalizing and regulating the drug would help prevent ecstasy users from overdosing or dying from poisoned pills, citing one particular case of seven deaths in 2014 from a tainted batch of MDMA.
The group’s petition calling for legalizing the drug, called MDMJA—combining MDMA with “Ja,” the Dutch word for “yes”—has already been signed by more than 40,000 people.