A Melbourne pharmacist and the Victorian of the Year say you should be able to get ecstasy from your local pharmacy.
Melbourne pharmacist Joshua Donelly and Professor David Penington are pushing for law reform that would see the legalisation of ecstasy and a pure form of the drug sold in chemists,The Age reports.
They propose having chemists sell pure MDMA, the drug which is found in ecstasy pills. The Australian Drug Foundation says drugs sold as ecstasy can often contain other substances such as ketamine, PMA, amphetamine and fillers such as household cleaning products.
The authors of the report, published in the Journal of Law and Medicine, say regulating the production and sale of ecstasy will lead to a more safe experience for users.
Professor Penington says this would allow health professionals to educate users on the potential risks from taking the drug.
He believes most of the harmful side effects from taking ecstasy actually come from the other substances that MDMA is being cut with, as often happens when it is sold on the black market.
It's not the first time the respected doctor has proposed this. In an Australia 21 paper in 2012, he wrote "I propose decriminalisation for
possession and use of cannabis and ecstasy for people aged 16 and over who are willing to be recorded on a national confidential user's register, who will then have access and permission to purchase them from an approved government supplier (probably a pharmacist)
in regulated quantities with careful record keeping."
Ecstasy is the second most popular illicit drug among Australians, behind cannabis.
According to the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 10.9% of Australians aged 14 years and over have taken ecstasy and 2.5% of people had taken ecstasy in the last 12 months.
The median age of recent ecstasy users is 25.
The majority of people surveyed only take ecstasy once or twice a year, which supports the claims that it is one of the least addictive drugs out there.
A growing number of drug and law experts are calling for the government to do away with the prohibitionist approach to illicit drugs.
A discussion paper by the NSW Bar Association argues that the current laws encourage an unregulated black market and criminal networks, and it is more dangerous for the user, because there's a higher chance of overdosing on drugs. It says we'd be better off taking a harm minimisation approach to drug policy.
"The only way to achieve these goals is to replace the black market for drugs with a form of legal availability under a highly regulated system," the report reads.
Pharmacist Joshua Donelly acknowledges that the drug is not without risks, but told The Age that previous studies about the dangers of the drug aren't accurate, because they focus on ecstasy pills, not MDMA. He said there was not enough evidence proving that MDMA caused dependence or made users violent.
Donelly cited a report from Britain's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs that ranked MDMA as the 17th in a list of harmful drugs. In comparison, tobacco was 6th and alcohol was 1st.
The push to legalise ecstasy in Australia follows a debate about the issue in New Zealand, with a leading toxicologist claiming that it was safer than alcohol.
Dr Paul Quigley from Wellington Hospital said there was a growing trend of people buying dangerous new synthetic drugs online, and regulating MDMA could be a safer alternative.
"We could assess whether it's safe, we could regulate it, we could earn income off it, we could restrict it ... But at least it could be controlled," he said.
But prime minister John Key was quick to hose down expectations, saying that it was unlikely his government would legalise the drug.
"Anything I've seen in relation to this drug has been deeply negative, so I can't see why it would be," he said.
Yes, anything to make it safer for the user.No way, it is still too dangerous.
vote votesYes, anything to make it safer for the user.
vote votesNo way, it is still too dangerous.
Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Alex Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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