Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jul 2002
Source: Daily Californian, The (CA Edu)
Copyright: 2002 The Daily Californian
Author: Kevin Sabet
Note: Kevin Sabet is a UC Berkeley graduate and is currently working toward 
his Ph.D. in drug policy.
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Raves)


It was a crowded Saturday night at a local rave. Having passed out over 
4,000 "this is your brain on ecstasy" postcards to ravers waiting to get 
into the club, I moved over to one side of the line and saw a 22-year old 
curled up in a ball, being comforted by one of the club's "bouncers." I 
approached them: "Is everything alright." I said. "Yeah, he's just a little 
messed up--no big deal."

"Um, can he talk. What has he taken tonight. He looks very bad," I said, 
frustrated at the bouncer's obvious indifference.

He replied, "He's fine. Here is the club promoter now."

"I think this guy needs to be taken to the emergency room," I exclaimed.

"Nah, he is okay. This is what happens to people sometimes. It's not our 
responsibility to take care of him," she assuredly stated.

"Maybe, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't need help," I said.

"He is breathing and conscious, he does not need to see anyone," another 
club promoter came and said. The promoter continued, "We could get sued for 
this--for drugs in here."

Completely frustrated, I said, "That does not matter. Just because one is 
breathing does not mean that one is not in danger. He needs to see someone. 

The promoter replied, "You are out here on your moral crusade, and whenever 
people are on a crusade they never tell all the facts. There are both sides 
to the story."

One hour later, as I was about to leave, the scene was the same. I called 
9-1-1 and told them to get here immediately--someone was in imminent danger.

Scenes like these are commonplace at today's raves. Often knowing that drug 
use is occurring and realizing the profit potential of such use, club 
promoters turn a blind eye. For those who are worried about the threat that 
ecstasy poses on today's minds and today's rave culture, the pending 
federal RAVE Act and a similar one like it on the state level should serve 
as a sigh of relief.

Unlike other illicit drugs, ecstasy use has been on the rise over the past 
20 years. With more use, deaths have increased and these drugs have been 
linked to long-term brain damage. Contrary to what some groups will tell 
you, there is no such thing as safe drug use.

Like cocaine in the late 1970s, ecstasy is often looked at as a harmless 
drug. In fact, some of the same people who tout ecstasy use as being benign 
are also guilty of doing the same about cocaine twenty years ago. Though 
ecstasy was developed 80 years ago for psychiatrists, scientists noted 
thereafter that the drug was being abused and that its medical use was 
ineffective. Some of the latest scientific research points to evidence that 
ecstasy can lead to long-lasting, perhaps permanent, changes in the 
brain--specifically in the growth of the hormone serotonin and in its 

These bills would make it harder for drugs to enter raves and would impose 
serious consequences on club promoters hungry for profits. The rave culture 
of the 1980s, as many would argue, was not about drugs--it was about the 
dancing. Sadly, today's raves are almost always connected with rampant, 
widespread drug use. To return to the original culture, these legislative 
bills are a move in the right direction.

Coupled with strong prevention and education efforts--based on science, not 
urban myth--they have the potential to strongly impact the worrying rise in 
ecstasy use, deaths and destruction. 
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager