Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Confessions of an Ecstasy User; the Downgrading of Ecstasy from a Class A Drug Is on the Agenda Following a Report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee. One Clubber Puts His Controversial View

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Confessions of an Ecstasy User; the Downgrading of Ecstasy from a Class A Drug Is on the Agenda Following a Report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee. One Clubber Puts His Controversial View

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHANN HARI

I DO not smoke. I never drink. But recently, together with a highflying advertising exec, a leading social worker and a medical doctor - all model citizens, all of us with firsts from Cambridge University - I was out taking pills. Which has made reading the newspapers over the past few days a strange experience. There is, out there, a drug called Ecstasy.

According to David Blunkett, this "can, and does, kill unpredictably, and there is no such thing as a safe dose".

The Home Secretary believes that people who use or sell this evil drug should face years in prison.

This is odd, because I - along with about 500,000 people around my age (I'm 23) - use a drug with the same name each weekend. But the Ecstasy I know and love has never "killed unpredictably".

It is true that a tiny handful of people have died. Each of these deaths is, of course, a horrific tragedy for the family involved, but we need some perspective here. Fewer people die because of Ecstasy than perfectly legal alcohol.

That's fairly widely known, despite our hysterically anti-Ecstasy press.

But did you know that more people, in fact, die working out on an exercise bike or because of allergic reactions to nectarines each year than because of Ecstasy?

Clearly, David Blunkett needs to be informed of the basic facts about one of Britain's most popular drugs.

If he fancies trying one, I'll be happy to take him to a decent club. But in the meantime, I'll try to explain why so many of us use the drug weekly.

ECSTASY is a nonaddictive Class-A drug, first synthesised as MDMA - a white crystalline solid - in Germany in 1898. It has a distinct, bitter taste and is usually taken in a pill or capsule.

Usually, I take a full pill (which costs about ?12) if I'm going out clubbing. Within 20 to 40 minutes I'd start to "come up" - the drug sends rushes to the brain, which can be, quite literally, an ecstatic experience.

The effect is known as being "loved up" and I find it simultaneously blissfully happy and hectic. My heart beats faster, and I feel a lot of energy and excitement. I feel an irresistible urge to do things, especially dancing. I am such a horrendously bad mover that it is the only time I can suspend my embarrassment and take to the dance floor.

The drug makes me feel extraordinarily "at one" - almost affectionate - with the people around me, even large crowds. It's very easy to bond with people when "loved up". Perhaps, given all the blood feuds running through the Cabinet, a group Ecstasy experience would be useful.

Tony and Gordon would be hugging and apologising for all those back-stabbing briefings in no time.

Many of the problems David Blunkett is rightly worried about, like yobbish street violence, are actually reduced by Ecstasy. …

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