San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

U.s. Stance on Drugs Sends Mixed Signals

Government’s lack of consistency confuses thewar on drugs

Ecstasy should not have been made illegal. This is what MarshaRosenbaum, Ph.D., and Rick Doblin propose in their contribution to1991’s anthology of articles, “The Drug Legalization Debate.”

Whydo they propose this? Because, prior to the ban onmethlyenedixtmethamphetamine (MDMA) in the mid ’80s, Ecstasy was usedfor a variety of medicinal purposes — psychiatrists usedMDMA-assisted therapy to help terminally ill patients inpsychotherapy. Marriage difficulties, phobias and even drugaddictions were treated with much success by physician-supervised useof the drug.

So, should the drug be illegal? Some say yes. Some say no.However, in reading the evidence and sifting through the masscollection of testimonials, one thing is crystal clear — America hasyet to decide its stance on the drug.

Some things you should know about Ecstasy’s history with theUnited States government.

–According to Rosenbaum’s article, it took the United StatesGovernment five years, two appeals and a multitude of lawyers toofficially make use of the illegal drug.

–The drug is known to cause dehydration, increased heart rate,abnormal blood clotting, hallucinations and, in some cases, cardiacarrest, according to

–Ecstacy was originally intended as an appetite suppressant whenit was brought to public attention in 1917. Rosenbaum’s article thentraced Ecstasy to World War II, when it was one of the many drugsused by the Nazis. Today, it is popular among rave and club scenesand is known as the euphoric drug, according to

–Knowing this, the U.S. Government has legalized sales and use ofa drug known as herbal Ecstasy. The drug produces much of the sameresults on a lesser scale and therefore runs less risk of causingimmediate damage.

This is not a column promoting the legalization of Ecstasy or, forthat matter, any drug. This is, however, a column about the stupidityof the United States government. Once again, the powers that be aresending mixed messages to the people of America. In this particularinstance, specifically America’s young people — those most commonlyassociated with Ecstasy use.

The drug is banned, deemed illegal, and therefore dangerous andforbidden to be used under any circumstances. Yet, there sits an80-plus year history of the use of Ecstasy, from the not-so-good (itwas used by a pack of troops that attempted to exterminate the Jewishcommunity) to the positive (numerous documented cases of psychiatricpatients who have been helped and, in some cases, cured by medicinaluse of the drug). Rosenbaum shows that MDMA research was financed bythe U.S. government and, for many years, sold and prescribed legally.

Curiosity killed the cat, so they say. The forbidden fruit fuelstemptation, and when a government makes such a big deal aboutsomething they at one time supported, ears are bound to perk up.

Think about the hours and hours of media attention designated tocovering the issue of legalizing marijuana. Medicinal use in somecases was legal, then illegal, then legal again.

It used to be legal to smoke a joint on a street corner. Now, it’sgrounds for jail time.

Not that anyone’s arguing the reasoning behind the Americangovernment taking a stand against regular use of these drugs byeveryday citizens. Certainly, if a drug is addictive by nature and isproven to be abused by a community of people, make the drugunavailable to them.

But tests have proven Ecstasy and marijuana are non-addictive. Infact, according to Rosenbaum’s study, an increase in taking the drugactually decreases the drug’s effect. Therefore, Ecstasy use islargely controlled by the people who use it because they want toachieve the maximum effect.

And numerous studies have found marijuana to be less harmful andless addictive than tobacco and alcohol, two of the world’s mostabused, yet still legal, drugs.

The government needs to take a good look at how the history ofboth legal and illegal drugs is being represented. Alcohol is treatedas such a minor substance in other countries. It’s easy to get yourhands on, drinking ages are lower and abuse is not nearly asprevalent. Why? Because it isn’t a big deal, no one views it as tabooand, therefore, getting trashed is not so appealing to minors.

Currently, according to the American Drug Trade federation,alcohol use is connected with more accidents and fatalities thanEcstasy and marijuana combined. Which drug is illegal?

The facts say one thing, yet the laws say another.

We need to start treating use of illegal drugs a bit differently.Don’t promote use, but, at the same time, don’t paint the use ofillegal substances, especially ones used at one time for medicalbenefits, as a cardinal sin.

America is the land of mixed signals. Unfortunately, one day,those mixed signals just might catch up with us.

–Ross von Metzke is a journalism senior and special sectioneditor for The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to

–This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of TheDaily Aztec.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
U.s. Stance on Drugs Sends Mixed Signals