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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Column: Message Is Simple
Title:CN AB: Column: Message Is Simple
Published On:2012-01-31
Source:Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-02-03 06:01:51
MESSAGE IS SIMPLE

If You Do the E Circulating on the Streets Right
Now, You're Going to Need One of These Expensive, Shiny Boxes

At this point, consider it a suicide attempt.

That's the harsh life and death decision facing
those planning to take ecstasy =AD or what they
might believe is ecstasy =AD when nine Calgary-area
corpses have already been linked to the same mislabelled drug.

Unless you're extremely daft or harbouring a
death wish, nine funerals should be a pretty
obvious clue that something is very amiss with the local ecstasy supply.

It's a toxic mistake that=92s killing regulars and
newbie alike, with local victims ranging in age
from 16 to 43, bonded by the belief that what
they ingested was fun and at least relatively safe.

This =93ecstasy=94 is neither.

You may have dropped E by the handful before, but
there's no comfort in experience here. When the
drug nicknamed =93death=94 makes the rounds, the bodies tend to pile up.

If you take ecstasy, you are playing Russian
Roulette with your life =AD there's nothing more
simple that we can make it than that,=94 said Calgary police Supt. Kevan
Stuart.

It's not unknown for police officers to use
hyperbole when describing illegal drugs, given
their job of discouraging users and arresting dealers.

But in this case, there's no exaggeration: The
drug being passed off as ecstasy, and impossible
to tell apart from real thing, is a known killer.

The first victims of paramethoxyamphetamine, also
called PMMA or PMA, have been in the ground
nearly 40 years, ever since the designer drug hit
the streets in Canada and the U.S.

Taking it triggered hallucinations, but PMMA
could also trigger uncontrollable overheating in
victims, leading to convulsions, coma, and total
organ failure as the body slowly cooked from the inside.

Those that survived were left irreversibly
damaged =AD brains and other vital parts don't hit
42C without suffering irreparable harm.

Those still not getting the message =AD ecstasy is
a very popular drug in Calgary, so there's a big
audience to convince =AD should know the street name for PMMA really is
death.

People are dying from taking what they believe is
ecstasy, and there is no other way of putting it,=94 said Stuart.

It's a very dangerous drug, and if you take it
and you ingest it you are going face very serious
consequences with your health, and people are dying.=94

Canadian police have been here before. A dozen
people are reported to have died in Canada and
the U.S. after the laboratory drug appeared in
1972, before it became shunned as far too risky, even for desperate users.

If it wasn't for the popularity of ecstasy, PMMA
would probably have remained a tragic footnote in
the annals of drug culture, hated by addicts and casual user alike.

But methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or ecstasy, is
tragically similar to PMMA in effect and
appearance =AD and with the ingredients for ecstasy
harder and harder to find, PMMA is seen as an easy substitute.

Easy, at least, for the people manufacturing the nasty substitute.

It's not easy at all for the dozens of families
around the world who've received the
heart-breaking news that a son or daughter =AD
dabbling with a recreational drug for kicks =AD is in the morgue.

Australia had a spate of deaths in the 1990s,
followed by a string of U.S. fatalities in the
early 2000s, as rave culture made ecstasy a
lucrative business for dealers all too happy to substitute PMMA.

PMA is BAD news. horrifying experience.
Especially when you're not expecting it.

The person I am referring to is lucky they are
still alive,=94 is how one drug user described it on an online PMMA forum.

So deadly is PMMA, police departments around the
globe regularly issue health alerts if the
substance is detected in seized narcotics =AD so
fearful are they of a rash of deaths like Calgary is experiencing.

Calgary police tried to warn the public as soon
as PMMA appeared locally, but whether the message
was loud enough or properly understood by drug users isn't certain.

As soon as we obtained information from the
medical examiner's office that advised us PMMA
was present ... we made that message very clear
to the public.=94 said drug unit Staff Sgt. Mike Bossley.

The message has now been repeated almost every
day, by some of the highest ranking police in
Calgary =AD and with headlines of overdose death
haunting the news, their message is deafening.

Whether Calgary ecstasy users choose to listen
now depends on how much they want to live.
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