Dear Ann: This is in response to the letter from DEA administrator Donnie Marshall about ecstasy. The ecstasy knock-off known as PMA that has been taking the lives of young Americans is today's version of bathtub gin. The black market has no controls for quality or user age. Unlike legitimate businesses that sell alcohol, illegal drug dealers do not ask for ID. They push trendy, synthetic "club drugs" when given the chance. The drug war fails miserably at its primary mandate protecting children from drugs.
The Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by regulating and taxing marijuana as a legal drug and establishing age controls. Politicians should stop worrying about the message drug policy reform sends and start thinking about the children. Robert Sharpe, MPA, Program Officer, the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C.
Dear Robert Sharpe: Thanks for your interesting viewpoint. I hope your letter will wake up some of those "sleeping beauties." Here's more on the subject:
From Dallas: Ecstasy is fun. It gives you an overwhelming sense of happiness and love. True, it's not real, but so what? If you take ecstasy, be sure you get it from a trusted source and drink lots of water. Also, don't take any alcohol with it. It could result in brain damage or death.
Johnstown, Pa.: I am a senior in high school and have been going to raves almost weekly. I took my mother to a rave, and we danced until 5 a.m. She had the time of her life. We were drug-free and surrounded by friends.
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio: I am 19 and have been attending raves for two years. People go for the music, not the drugs. Security personnel frisk everyone.
Nashville: It's been two years since my experience with ecstasy, and I am still in therapy. I was almost raped and have lost my short-term memory.
Sydney, Australia: Here in Australia, there are RaveSafe organizations that provide guidelines on how to stay safe while using ecstasy, including the need to drink water to prevent dehydration. You also can buy testing kits that will tell you if the pills contain MDMA or something more dangerous.
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.: While the letter about ecstasy was valid, I would like to point out that glowsticks are not a dependable sign of ecstasy use. Glowsticks are very popular dance props with teen-agers who listen to techno, electronic or rave music.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: A lot of ravers use drugs, but it is not fair to label all of us as drug users. I am 17 and go to raves every Saturday, and I don't use drugs. Ecstasy is available in lots of places, including rock concerts and college parties. If I want ecstasy, I don't have to go to a rave to get it.
Oakland, Calif.: If ecstasy were legal, rave promoters and staff would be able to help injured kids without fear of legal reprisal. People are worried they will be arrested if they take someone to the hospital or call 911. That's the real problem.
Cincinnati: Some raves let you in for a reduced fee if you bring canned goods for food drives. Others raise money for local charities. Ravers have a saying, P.L.U.R., which means Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.
New York: I used ecstasy for five years, but only on weekends. I often felt depressed on Monday mornings, but continued to take ecstasy because it was so pleasant. This is classic addicted behavior. I can no longer ignore the effect it has had on my health. My hair is thin and breaks off easily. My skin is sallow, and I have perpetual acne. Due to the grinding, my teeth have become crooked and sharp. Ecstasy is not worth the misery you suffer later on.