For The Dutch, Ecstasy Just The Latest Fad  

For The Dutch, Ecstasy Just The Latest Fad  
Posted by FoM on February 15, 2001 at 12:14:11 PT
By Steven Komarow, USA Today
Source: USA Today 
Amsterdam - Jaro Renout is looking for drugs. A bouncer at the dance club Milky Way, Renout nightly frisks patrons and pulls plenty of drugs from their pockets, including Ecstasy, the feel-good pill that's the rage in Europe and the USA. And then he gets out the club's enforcement device: a jar of water. Dumping pills into water ruins them, which serves other purposes: It keeps away dealers who might annoy customers, and it proves the bouncers don't confiscate drugs for themselves. 
It also, of course, makes it pointless to call police. But calling police is not the Dutch way. While the United States considers Ecstasy a scourge, it's just the latest fad here. While America rushes to toughen penalties and police sweep through rave clubs, the Dutch government sees a health issue. America offers jail, while Amsterdam offers Ecstasy revelers chemical tests to make sure their pills are free of dangerous impurities. But the next few years will tell whether the Dutch can maintain that permissive approach. The Ministry of Justice is struggling to control illegal manufacturing and smuggling operations that have made the nation the world's leading Ecstasy supplier. In 1999, the last full year for which data are available, Dutch authorities carried out 150 major operations, closed 36 Ecstasy labs and seized 3.6 million pills. Figures for 2000 and 2001 are expected to climb, and seizures represent only a fraction of the Ecstasy trade. "The unremitting efforts to tackle Ecstasy production and trafficking will be sustained," said the Ministry of Justice in a statement announcing a budget increase for 2001. "The Dutch are extremely aggressive," says Dean Boyd, a spokesman on drug interdiction for the U.S. Customs Service. Dutch authorities have cooperated closely with the Customs Service, he says, but the huge profits make it hard to stop the traffickers. A pill costs only a few cents to make and often sells for $25 or more. And demand is growing, especially in the USA. In the year ended Sept. 30, U.S. Customs seized 9.3 million pills, up from 400,000 in 1997. About 80% of the Ecstasy imported to the USA comes from or through the Netherlands. Ecstasy is a synthetic stimulant and hallucinogen widely popular at "raves," parties where people dance all night to techno and club music. Also known by teens as "E," "X" and the "love drug," it causes feelings of euphoria. A U.S. government report shows use of Ecstasy among eighth-graders increased to 3.1% in 2000 from 1.7% in 1999. Among 10th-graders, use rose to 5.4% from 4.4%. And among 12th-graders, Ecstasy use rose to 8.2% from 5.6%. While not considered addictive like other "hard" drugs such as cocaine or heroin, Ecstasy use is a habit of many young people and can be dangerous. Side effects include severe dehydration. Medical studies have shown that heavy use can cause brain damage. In the Netherlands, although Ecstasy sales are illegal, the permissive policy means that individuals take the risk. Former U.S. drug chief Barry McCaffrey, who made an official visit to Amsterdam in 1998, called the policy an "unmitigated disaster." So-called "coffee shops" feature menus of marijuana products and other herbal concoctions. "Dutch tolerance of drug use has created a climate that drug manufacturers and traffickers have seized upon," McCaffrey said. President Bush has not yet appointed a new drug "czar," but the new administration is expected to take a similar stance. Holland is unyielding. "The policy on coffee shops will remain unchanged," the Ministry of Justice says. Rien Maas, police chief in Oosterhout, a town south of Amsterdam, says the policy is not a panacea. Despite the availability of treatment, there are about 70,000 hard drug addicts in Holland and there's still drug-related violence, especially between rival smugglers. Still, he supports tolerance as the most practical approach, especially compared to U.S. laws with mandatory minimum sentences. "It is impossible" to have enough police to eliminate drug dealing and use ." To crack down on dealers, Holland is looking to regulate sales of pill-making machines and block import of the chemical ingredients for Ecstasy. It also is working with neighbors to better track illegal drugs, since border controls have disappeared largely with the advent of the European Union. While most of Europe has strict anti-drug policies similar to those in the USA, a few are moving toward the Dutch approach. The governments in neighboring Belgium and Switzerland have tentatively approved measures to decriminalize marijuana this year. Portugal and Luxembourg are considering similar action. At Amsterdam's clubs, patrons say the Dutch policy works and the impact of the crackdowns is not entirely positive. Ecstasy pills are more frequently spiked with unwanted amphetamines and other substitutes, they say. "When I came here for the first time, pills were a lot better," says Anke Bertems, 25, a sociology student at the University of Amsterdam. "Police began to interfere a lot more with it, so the quality went down. Officials say a wide variety of substances have been mixed into the pills. Sometimes other stimulants are included, which can be dangerous especially if the use of the pills is combined with alcohol or other drugs. Bertems says her friends are careful about their drug use. And because drugs are legally tolerated, she says they don't take drugs to rebel or show off, only to feel good. "We're not judging each other," she says. Nearby, at the club Paradiso, in an old church, powerful bass speakers rumble and dancers shake where pews once stood. Marijuana smoke scents the air. Though many are high, this is not a drug party. Almost everyone is dancing. Clubgoers who don't take drugs say they are comfortable dancing alongside those who do. "I can see what it does to people, and I don't want it," says Bo van Brommel, 20. But she says making drugs illegal is wrong. "We've got a lot of education about it and you just make your own choice." She also says Holland's liberal policies don't create an underworld of drug criminals, and as a result "Amsterdam, it's quite safe," she says. The murder rate in Holland is a fourth of that in the USA. Tineke Edink, 22, says she's never tried drugs. She works one day a week at a drug-treatment facility and she knows the downside. "But I have friends who use drugs. They can handle it. They are not addicts at all," she says. "Because it's legal here, I think more people use it like my friends without problems. When things are illegal, for some people, it is more exciting." Even in the clubs, the Dutch say that tolerance is not the same as "anything goes." The society expects people to be responsible, they say. Renski Bronk, 22, who works at the van Gogh museum, disapproves of Americans there who show up for work stoned. "They can't use it in America, so they are using it here" to excess, she says. Source: USA Today (US) Author: Steven Komarow, USA TodayPublished: February 15, 2001Copyright: 2001 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc Address: 1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington VA 22229 Fax: (703) 247-3108 Contact: editor Website: Related Article:The Ecstasy Generation Articles - Ecstasy 
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Comment #3 posted by nl5x on February 15, 2001 at 21:45:15 PT
bad gin prohibition
Because of prohibition, Americans began to drink more potent drinks and so became more drunk by drinking less. Another downfall of prohibition was that the illegally made products had no standards. Deaths from poisoned liquor rose from 1,064 in 1920 to 4,154 in 1925.
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Comment #2 posted by J.R. Bob Dobbs on February 15, 2001 at 14:43:31 PT
Just Say Know
>>' Ecstasy pills are more frequently spiked with unwanted amphetamines and other substitutes, they say.'  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  When's the last time someone you know got a bad bottle of gin?
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on February 15, 2001 at 13:50:03 PT:
Duh-duh-duh! Duuuuh!
I have a T-shirt that says:Anuther Brilyunt Mind Diztroyd By The Publik Edukashun Sistum.When I see this kind of article I think of that T-shirt.'The governments in neighboring Belgium and Switzerland have tentatively approved measures to decriminalize marijuana this year. Portugal and Luxembourg are considering similar action.'Would some kind soul lift up the rock this boob with aspirations of being a journalist resides under and let him know that the countries in question have already done it? ' Ecstasy pills are more frequently spiked with unwanted amphetamines and other substitutes, they say.' It makes me what to shout in this guy's face "Hey, bonehead! The last two letters of the acronym of MDMA are for the word methamphetamine". Which he would have known if he had simply looked it up.Yep, the American Public school system has produced some real winners. The antis must love this guy.
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