Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jan 2002
Source: Zephyr, The (IL)
Copyright: 2002, The Zephyr
Author: James E. Gierach



No more drinking or popping J & B Daniels club drugs in 2002, or it's 
off to jail you must go. DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph 
Birkett and Illinois House minority leader Lee Daniels (R Elmhurst) 
have drafted a new law that ranks Ecstasy -- a popular club drug -- 
right up there with cocaine and heroin.

The new law takes effect New Year's Day and carries tougher penalties 
for those who provide Ecstasy to others -- 6 years in prison for 
fifteen pills, minimum, that's two-fifths of a prison year per pill.

Patented by Merck in 1913, Ecstasy has only become popularized during 
the past few drug-war years. Yet, authorities contend, ''the use of 
Ecstasy and other club drugs has soared largely because the penalties 
are too lax.'' (Chicago Tribune, 1/1/02, Sec.2 SW, ''Tough club drug 
law in effect.'') More probable, because of increasing club drug 
overdose deaths -- kids mistaking more powerful amphetamines and 
other substances as (banned but unregulated) Ecstasy -- Ecstasy has 
become the newly targeted drug-war substance.

So, young people: Beware! Not only of club drugs, but also of new 
drug-war penalties associated with Ecstasy. Like cocaine and heroin, 
Ecstasy is now a ''hard drug,'' one really disdained by legislators 
and apparently having no medicinal value. It is strictly a drug for 
fun and profit -- consumed for fun and sold for profit.

Legislators, here's a tip. Lax penalties are not driving Ecstasy drug 
use. Rather it's the enactment of one bad drug law after another, and 
the support of one ineffective drug policy after another, that is. 
Illustrative, two weeks ago I was Christmas shopping with my 
six-year- old child. As we drove past a pharmacy advertised as a 
''Drug Store,'' out of the clear blue, my son said, ''Don't stop 
here, Dad. Drugs are bad.'' The d-- drug war is already at work 
preoccupying a young mind that should be elsewhere and twisting the 
good and bad of drugs into an attractive candy cane of deadly 

Save the kids from our lawmakers -- End the drug war!

In the meantime, regarding Ecstasy, our political leaders have a few 
questions to answer. How many persons are projected to go to prison 
under this new Ecstasy law? Lots, I suppose, if this law is to be 
meaningful. How many prison cells will we need to build and at what 
monetary cost? Will the kids going to prison for Ecstasy violations 
have predominantly white faces, good grades and live in the suburbs? 
Better still -- do we care any more than we do that kids with 
predominantly black faces, poor grades and living in the ''projects'' 
are sentenced to prison for crack cocaine violations? And how soon 
will we need a new Ecstasy prison? What economically deprived 
Illinois Podunk will get the new prison and our kids? Will tough 
prison sentences for Ecstasy fail to discourage drug use as mightily 
as tough sentences for its cocaine and heroin counterparts? A father 
of a six- year-old child wants to know.

James E. Gierach

The Drug Corner

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