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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Column: No Regrets For Ecstasy
Title:CN AB: Column: No Regrets For Ecstasy
Published On:2012-02-01
Source:Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-02-03 06:01:45

"A solution of 6.55 g of 3.4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as the
free base and 2.8 mL formic acid in 150 mL benzene was held at reflux
under a Dean Stark trap until no further H2O was generated."

So read the opening lines of a recipe, in a volume globally condemned
by police as the cookbook of the illegal pharmaceutical industry -
the chemical stew in question a drug better known as ecstasy.

The woman who co-authored the book could be easily called the
matriarch of ecstasy for her role in popularizing the so-called rave
drug, except Ann Shulgin really hates that word.

"Ecstasy is a meaningless term - ecstasy can mean anything at all,
and on the street it could be anything, whether it's rat poison or
severely dangerous things like that," said Shulgin, from her home in

Ann is the wife of Alexander Shulgin, a wild-haired pharmacologist
loathed by law enforcement for using his genius to create and
distribute hundreds of designer drugs - including the recipe for MDMA.

The 86-year-old "Godfather of Ecstasy," as Alexander is known, is
recovering from a stroke - Shulgin says he's also showing signs of
early dementia - but the two seniors have long defended responsible drug use.

It's why 80-year-old Shulgin offers a concerned "Oh, dear," when told
about the spate of ecstasy-linked overdose deaths in Canada, but no
words of regret - and certainly none of guilt.

"My husband is not responsible for the deliberate or accidental use
of these materials, and the governments which illegalize them are
setting themselves up for the problem," said Shulgin.

"If there's illegality there's no quality control - people don't know
what they're getting."

Police in Alberta and B.C. certainly believe those taking
paramethoxyamphetamine, also called PMMA or PMA, aren't doing so on
purpose - so dangerous is the drug with the street name "death."

A Red Deer man who died last month is the latest corpse linked to
PMMA, a potentially deadly designer drug almost impossible to tell
apart from Shulgin's MDMA.

It's certainly being sold as ecstasy, but PMMA is easy to overdose
from, and it has a nasty habit of cooking unfortunate victims from
the inside, leading to an agonizing death from hyperthermia.

With the warnings about bad ecstasy apparently failing to register
with some drug users, police have taken drastic measures to get the
message out and the drug removed from circulation.

On Monday, one of the Calgary's top police officers described ecstasy
as a gamble with death: "If you take ecstasy, you are playing Russian
Roulette with your life," said Supt. Kevan Stuart.

And Tuesday, it was reported Calgary police are considering an
amnesty for dealers willing to turn in ecstasy in a bid to get the
bad batch out of circulation.

Back in California, Shulgin and her husband know many police officers
blame them for making drugs like MDMA popular, through the two books
they co-authored, TiHKAL and PiHKAL.

"It is our opinion that those books are pretty much cookbooks on how
to make illegal drugs," is a quote attributed to San Francisco Drug
Enforcement Agency officer Richard Meyer.

It's clear why: as well as detailed instructions on making MDMA, the
books contain recipes for dozens of chemical cocktails with the
central purpose of getting humans stoned.

Shulgin says the recipes are not there are as a "how to" for illicit
drug labs, but to provide education.

"My husband's point in doing that, is he believed - as do I - in
complete freedom of information," said Shulgin, who is on record as
having taken 2,000 chemical drug trips.

"This is chemistry and it's knowledge and there's misuse of chemistry
and knowledge, just as there is everything else in the world."

That's not to say Alexander Shulgin is an advocate of all drugs, and
he even wrote a public warning once about the dangers of PMMA/PMA.

"At slightly higher levels, the clear effects of heart stimulation
and blood pressure rise," he wrote in an advice column on chemical drugs.

"Not nice. There have been reports of deaths associated with the use
of PMA. I would suggest staying away from this compound."

Stay clear of tainted ecstasy - on that one point, the Godfather of
Ecstasy and police agree.
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