The Push To Legalise MDMA In Australia
Ahead of the federal election this May, one party is calling for party drug MDMA to be regulated and legalised.
According to the Greens, legalising the substance would lead to a decrease in festival deaths, weeding out deadly impurities and encouraging more responsible consumption.
With a background in criminology, Greens candidate for Warringah Kristyn Glanville believes the Government's criminalisation model has been useless in stopping young people from dying and discouraging people from taking drugs.
"The Greens support regulating the supply of MDMA, as this would mean that we can ensure the contents are consistent. It would also mean that people are given accurate health information at the point of sale," Glanville told 10 daily.
"MDMA use should be primarily treated as a health issue. In countries like Portugal where a decriminalisation model has been adopted, people are less likely to overdose and more likely to seek help for addiction," she said.
MDMA overdoses are responsible for fewer deaths than horse riding each year. Fatalities from MDMA are normally a result of organ failure from overheating, or the effects of drinking too much water.
However, medical experts like Dr David Penington from the University of Melbourne say pure MDMA has an extremely low addiction potential and is less dangerous than alcohol, tobacco or cannabis.
It even has legitimate health benefits in some cases, he claimed.
"MDMA can be useful in managing some psychiatric problems including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Dr Penington told 10 daily.
"It's a drug that can be of real value but the danger is when people take it when overheated, dehydrated and consume an unwise number of tablets," he said.
MDMA's effects include increased empathy, euphoria and enhanced sensory perception. But withdrawal can be tough on drug users, with mild depression and irritability lingering days after consuming ecstasy.
According to Dr Penington, Australia is leading the world in ecstasy use and making MDMA a prescription that is overseen by medical professionals would lead to increased education on how to safely consume the drug.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann , the party spokesperson for drug law reform, said young people are naturally curious 'with many turning a blind eye to the government's "just say no" message' and a different approach is needed.
"As politicians we can keep our heads in the sand or regulate the supply of MDMA, taking control of this drug out of the hands of organised crime and save lives in the process," she said.
When it comes to pill testing, Glanville believes the Government should "acknowledge the elephant in the room" that people are taking drugs at festivals "no matter how high the penalties are or how many police dogs you send".
Glanville said she hoped for a change in mindset around drugs.
"Drug use is often stigmatised or seen as a moral issue where judgment is passed about people who use drugs. I think current politicians don't want to be seen as encouraging risky or 'immoral' behaviour," she said.
"[It is] counterproductive, as it stigmatises users and makes them less likely to seek help when they need it."
Contact the author: @edengillespie