Pubdate: Fri, 23 Jun 2000
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2000 San Francisco Chronicle
Author: Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer


Use Of Ecstasy Raises Danger Of Dehydration

San Francisco -- After some debate about whether the measure might
encourage use of the illegal drug Ecstasy, a San Francisco supervisors
committee unanimously passed a proposal yesterday to require big dance
clubs to provide ``free, cool drinking water.''

Some of the clubs jammed with young people dancing the night away
actually turn off cold water taps in their bathrooms as a way of
trying to force patrons to buy bottled water, Supervisor Mark Leno
told members of the Public Health and Environment Committee. Ecstasy
doesn't mix well with alcohol and can cause dehydration.

On the crowded, sweaty dance floors, some people suffer heat
exhaustion or heat stroke and end up being taken to hospitals, Leno

``Gosh, what a no-brainer,'' Dr. Marshall Isaacs, head of the city's
paramedic service, said of Leno's proposal to make free water available.

``Common sense is not as pervasive as we hope, or we wouldn't be here
today,'' Isaacs told the supervisors.

Others said that even if some club patrons use Ecstasy, an illegal
drug that produces a relaxed, euphoric state and is said to intensify
the experience of hearing music, many don't -- but everyone needs water.

``We don't see emergencies related to Ecstasy except in dance clubs
where people dance aerobically in a hot environment,'' said Emanuel
Sferios of the group DanceSafe, which tries to make the club scene

But Supervisor Amos Brown said the measure might send the wrong
message by engaging in ``selective morality.''  [Ellen Komp of The
Lindesmith Center later accused Brown of selective morality in denying
illicit drug users water, in essence issuing them a death sentence. It
was at this point Brown said he would support the measure, saying he
would not impose his morality on anyone.-ed]

``My problem is, we need to be consistent and not go to extremes in
politicizing this issue,'' Brown said. ``We need to say, `Hey, some of
your behavior is not acceptable. It's against the law.' ''

But Isaacs said, ``We want to protect all members of our society and
do it simply.'' He said if providing drinking water can cut 911 calls,
the city will benefit.

The water proposal is the second piece of legislation Leno has
sponsored about safety for club patrons. The first, which is now law,
removes disincentives for club managers to call 911 for health

Coming up soon will be a request from Leno to the Department of Public
Health that it publish and circulate at the clubs a brochure
explaining the risks of using illegal drugs.
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