The hospitalization of many Wesleyan students due to taking “ecstasy” pills is a tragedy. As a founder of Wesleyan Students For Sensible Drug Policy back in 1999 and a lifelong researcher into drug policy issues, I must note that whatever the students took, it was not MDMA. MDMA is a relatively very safe drug, once which I’ve taken and benefitted from spiritually many dozens of times myself, and which is currently being studied as a treatment for people with sever post-traumatic stress disorder.
Check out the web site www.maps.org for information on scientific studies into the medical uses of MDMA. The problems come, however, because the drug is criminalized and therefore people buying street “ecstasy” pills have no idea what they’re actually taking, until they know enough to buy a test kit and test it. So the problem is the failed “War on Drugs.” A better model would be to regulate psychedelic drugs like MDMA, just as many states are regulating marijuana, so that consumers know exactly what they’re getting. The drug prohibition model we’re currently in is by far the most dangerous one.
Furthermore, pure MDMA does have a lot of value as a medicine. It was criminalized in 1983 by the DEA, which overruled a judge’s recommendation to not criminalize it, since it has medicinal value and is not very dangerous. British drug researcher Dr. David Nutt determined that MDMA was the eighteenth most dangerous drug, far below alcohol, with extremely few deaths attributed to it. It’s too bad that this reality is lost amongst the stories of people being hospitalized for taking dirty ecstasy pills of unknown composition.