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FC: Proposed sentencing guidelines make Ecstasy same as heroin
From: Declan McCullagh <declan () well com>
Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 20:59:15 -0500
[It is true that this is an abridgement of liberty, but it is a
mischaracterization ("presidential dictatorship") to depict the GOP as
substantially different from the Democratic Party here. The law in question
(http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c106:H.R.4365.ENR:) was approved by
the Senate unanimously last fall, and by the House in a 394 to 25 vote.
Read on for info on how to submit your comments, deadline Monday afternoon.
From: "Danny Yavuzkurt" <ady1 () psu edu>
To: "Declan McCullagh" <declan () well com>
Subject: New federal sentencing guidelines would make Ecstasy equivalent to
Date: Sun, 4 Feb 2001 15:10:30 -0500
Declan - thought this could be of interest to free thinkers everywhere. The
government's now considering new sentencing guidelines that would make
possession of Ecstasy punishable as if it were heroin. This is a ridiculous
proposition, as the two drugs are light-years apart in terms of action,
effect, addictivity, and danger to the user. This is nothing more than a
governmental attempt to appear to be 'doing something' about the rise in
drug use among young people - lock 'em up. I have doubts that the
government even knows what Ecstasy really is, let alone what it really does.
To them, it's just another methamphetamine. But at least they're allowing
public "comment" (for only ten days, and they certainly didn't 'announce'
this). Thought you might want to weigh in on this, as you've certainly got
more clout, and more people might listen to you than to me, regardless of
I really feel that the government is not conducting a war on drugs so much
as a war on freedom, a war on the people, and most especially a war on
youth. I can't believe they would continue with the failed policies of
yesterday - building more prisons, filling them with innocent people, and
blaming those they incarcerate for breaking a law that was _created_ to put
them in jail. It just makes me sick.
Here's a copy of the DanceSafe e-news mailing I got concerning this..
there's still time for comments, so please, send in your thoughts... and if
you want, you can post this to F-C, too, if you think it's on-topic enough.
Hope this interests you.. it sure sickens me to think of the further
abrogations of personal freedom we'll suffer under this illegitimate
*** DanceSafe E-News ***
Issue No. 4, February 1-7, 2001
To SUBSCRIBE visit http://www.dancesafe.org
To UNSUBSCRIBE send e-mail to:
newsletter-subscribe () dancesafe org
To read this issue on the web, visit
Other important links and contact info below.
In this issue:
1. New Pill Results Available Online
2. New DanceSafe Chapters in Calgary, NYC,
3. Ecstasy Sentencing Alert from Alchemind!
4. Deja Vu All Over Again? The Toronto Raver
Information Project Comments on the U.S.
Crackdown on Raves
5. Getting Home Safely: Driving Tips for Late
Welcome to Issue #4 of DanceSafe E-News. First,
a huge THANK YOU to all who responded to last
week's media alert -- the letters we saw were
terrific. And thanks also for your comments on
Mike Males' "counter-review" of the movie
"Traffic." Please continue to send your
thoughts, ideas and suggestions about E-News
to editor () dancesafe org We read every single
e-mail, and your input helps shape this zine
and other DanceSafe projects.
Take a close look at the Ecstasy sentencing
alert from Alchemind, reprinted below.
DanceSafe is concerned about how increased
penalties for all drugs can affect the health
and safety of everyone. Think about it, and
then tell the U.S. Sentencing Commission your
opinion. But hurry! The deadline for comments
is Monday, February 5.
-The DanceSafe E-News Staff
1. New Pill Results
The latest results from DanceSafe's laboratory
pill testing program are available online at
The results are current through January 25 and
include sample pills from several states with
contents ranging from MDMA to PCP.
To participate in this free, anonymous program,
follow the instructions online at
2. New Chapters in Calgary, NYC, Philly
In the past month, DanceSafe welcomed DanceSafe
Philadelphia, Calgary Ravesafe, and DanceSafe
New York City as our newest chapters. To contact
them, or to find another chapter near you, see
To learn how to start a chapter in your area,
3. Ecstasy Sentencing Alert
Courtesy of the Alchemind Foundation,
The Federal Government Intends to Increase the
Punishment for MDMA (Ecstasy) offenses, so that
Ecstasy is treated (for the purposes of federal
sentencing), the same as heroin.
What you can do: The Center for Cognitive
Liberty & Ethics is coordinating the submission
of public comments to the Sentencing Commission.
Indications are that the Commission genuinely
seeks input on the question of how federal
Ecstasy offenses should be punished. BUT, ALL
COMMENTS MUST REACH THE COMMISSION BY MONDAY,
FEBRUARY 5, 2001. Please see Section 4,
below, for how you can help.
Under the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000
(section 3664 of Pub. L. 106-310), Congress
instructed the U.S. Sentencing Commission to
increased penalties for the manufacture,
importation, exportation, or trafficking of
The directive specifically requires the
Commission to increase the base offense level
for 3,4-methylenedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA),
3,4-methylenedioxy amphetamine (MDA),
paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMA), and any other
controlled substance that is marketed as Ecstasy
and that has either a chemical structure similar
to MDMA or an effect on the central nervous
system substantially similar to or greater than
2. The Commission's Proposed Amendment
Equates MDMA to Heroin
Unless convinced otherwise, by comments
submitted no later than Monday, February 5, 2001,
the Sentencing Commission proposes to amend the
Sentencing Guidelines so that MDMA, MDA, MDEA,
and PMA, are all equated, under the Drug
Equivalency Table, to heroin. Thus, federal
offences involving any of the above substances
would be punished, gram-for-gram, as if the
offense involved heroin. (See Technical Addendum,
for precise details).
3. Public Comments are Invited on Alternatives
Here is exactly what the Sentencing Commission's
official notice states with regard to the
proposed Amendment, and the consideration of
It has been represented to the Commission
that Ecstasy (i.e., MDMA, MDEA, MDA and PMA)
is similar in its hallucinogenic effect on
the user to mescaline, and also has been
described as having an added stimulant
component that can elevate heart rate,
blood pressure, and body temperature. It
has also been suggested that the drug is
neither physically nor psychologically
addictive. The Commission invites comment
on these representations and on the
appropriate penalty structure for Ecstasy.
The proposed amendment treats Ecstasy as
being of comparable seriousness to heroin,
providing a marihuana equivalency for
Ecstasy that is the same as heroin.
Accordingly, for sentencing purposes, 1 gm
of Ecstasy will be the equivalent of 1 kg
Should the Commission alternatively treat
Ecstasy comparably to some other major drug
of abuse? For example, should the
Commission treat Ecstasy as being of
comparable seriousness to powder cocaine
(which would result in a marihuana
equivalency for Ecstasy of 200 gm) or
methamphetamine mixture (which would result
in a marihuana equivalency for Ecstasy of
2kg)? Or should the penalty be comparable
to that for mescaline (which would result
in a marihuana equivalency for Ecstasy of
10 gm) or some multiple of the penalty for
mescaline? Comment also is requested
regarding whether the Drug Quantity Table
in section 2D1.1 should be revised with
respect to Ecstasy to provide additional
incremental penalties (perhaps with
exponential quantity increases) so as to
punish more severely those offenders who
traffic in larger quantities.
4. What You Can Do - Act Fast: deadline is
Monday, February 5, 2001
The Sentencing Commission is acting under its
"emergency" authority and is therefore allowing
only 10 days for the submission of public
comments. All submitted materials must reach the
Commission by 5:00 p.m. (Eastern time), Monday,
February 5, 2001.
The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics is
coordinating the submission of public comments
to the Sentencing Commission. The Sentencing
Commission has assured us that our compiled
comments will be considered, but you must have
your comments to us no later than 10:00 a.m.
(Pacific Time) on Monday, February 5, 2001.
Please reread section (3) above, and prepare a
written statement pointing out any inaccuracies
in the Commission's statement and responding to
the Commission's specific questions. Please
reference your points with citations to
published articles whenever possible. If you
are someone with credentials in the area of
pharmacology, drug use, or drug abuse, please
include a copy of your CV.
E-mail your materials as attached files to
"rgb () cognitiveliberty org" or fax them to us
at: 530-753-9662, no later than 10:00 a.m.
(Pacific Time) on Monday, February 5, 2001. The
Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics will
compile these materials and submit them to the
U.S. Sentencing Commission by 5:00 p.m. Eastern
Time that same day.
For Further information, contact Richard Glen
Boire, Esq., Center for Cognitive Liberty &
Ethics, Telephone: (530) 750-7912, or
e-mail: rgb () cognitiveliberty org
Inquiries to the US. Sentencing Commission
should be directed to Michael Courlander,
Public Affairs Officer, (202) 502-4590.
About the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics:
The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics is a
nonpartisan, nonprofit, law and policy center
working in the public interest to protect
fundamental civil liberties. The Center seeks
to foster cognitive liberty - the basic human
right to unrestrained independent thinking,
including the right to control one's own mental
processes and to experience the full spectrum of
possible thought. The Center is funded by the
Alchemind Society: The International Association
for Cognitive Liberty.
Web site: http://www.alchemind.org.
The actual proposed amendment reads:
The Commentary to section 2D1.1 captioned
"Application Notes" is amended in Note 10
in the Drug Equivalency Tables in the
subdivision captioned "LSD, PCP, and Other
Schedule I and II Hallucinogens (and their
immediate precursors)" in the line referenced
to "MDA" by striking "50 gm" and inserting
"1 kg"; in the line referenced to "MDMA" by
striking "35 gm" and inserting "1 kg"; in
the line referenced "MDEA" by striking
"30 gm" and inserting "1 kg"; and by
inserting "1 gm of Paramethoxymethamphetamine
/PMA = 1kg of marihuana" after the line
referenced to "MDEA."
Under the Commission's proposed amendment, 1
gram of MDA, MDMA, MDEA, or PMA would be equated
to 1 gram of heroin. Thus, the punishment for
federal "Ecstasy" offenses would be the same
as that imposed for federal offenses involving
the equivalent amount of heroin (by weight).
In comparison, 1 gram of mescaline is presently
equated to 10 grams of marijuana; meaning that an
offender receives the same punishment for 1 gram
of mescaline as he or she would receive for 10
grams of marijuana. Currently, 1 gram of MDMA is
equated to 35 grams of marijuana. Under the
proposed amendment 1 gram of MDMA would be
equated to 1000 grams (1 kg) of marijuana (the
same equivalency currently used for heroin).
Other drug equivalencies and commentary can be
found under section 2D1.1 of the Sentencing
Guidelines, available online at
4. Deja Vu All Over Again? The Toronto Raver
Information Project Comments on the U.S.
Crackdown on Raves
Interview by Jane Tseng, DanceSafe
The Toronto Raver Info Project (TRIP) is a
community based peer education and harm
reduction group in Toronto, Canada. TRIP was
founded approximately five years ago and works
out of Queen West Health Center. They have
established themselves as experts in health
issues surrounding the late night dance music
scene in Toronto through their community forums
and booth outreach services at events.
In light of recent events in New Orleans, E-News
talked with Erin Lewis, Project Director of TRIP
about how they worked with city officials and
the rave community a year and a half ago when
the city of Toronto placed a ban on raves
E-News: How would you compare the recent events
surrounding raves in the United States to the
government crackdown on raves in Toronto last
Lewis: There are a lot of things that are very
familiar, they sound very much like what was
going on here in Toronto last year.
The city was saying that raves are warehouses
of sin. There was story in the newspaper
wheret hey took pictures of ecstasy pills and
put them next to a table full of guns, saying
that all of these drugs and these guns were
confiscated at raves, when the reality is that
there has never been a gun found out a rave in
Toronto. They really sort of played up on the
hazards of the environment saying that there
weren't any washrooms and people were filling
their water bottles up out of toilets and things
like that. In response, what they did was ban
raves off of the city's property, because the
city doesn't support this kind of behavior.
They said "You can't have anything there,
because your parties are too dangerous". The
problem was that the city property, the
exhibition grounds in Toronto, is the most safe
environment for large gatherings of people,
because that is what it was built for. It is
adequately zoned, it has exits, hundreds of
toilets, running water, and its own security.
E-News: How did the ban on raves and the
negative public attention on the rave scene
affect the harm reduction work that TRIP does?
Lewis:. Trip actually had to sit through this
inquest into the death of a guy who died on
ecstasy a year and a half ago at a party. We
went through having our information out there on
trial...having all of these powerful people from
the city pulling apart everything in our
information, telling us, "You're promoting drug
use." They were saying that information like
ours contributed to his death, and that we were
making people want to use drugs. That was
absolute hell. But we're still kicking, right?
E-News: What steps did TRIP and the community
take to react to the government crackdown?
Lewis: We did a lot as TRIP and the Toronto
Dance Safety Committee, whose chair was the
project manager of TRIP at that time. The Party
People Project, which is a community activism
project that started out of one of TRIP's
community forums, is a group of about 150 people
from the rave community in Toronto that also
happened to be politically active. They were
also very loud and very political. They took
every measure to fight the government in the
crackdown and really worked to mobilize
themselves. When the city government was
deciding whether or not to keep the ban in place,
the Party people Project and the Toronto Dance
Safety Committee put together a huge information
package and an accompanying video that really
went in depth to dispel all of these myths about
the community. They did a lot of political
One of the things that we did was to organize a
large rally at city hall and we were able to
pull together about 20,000 people for that. We
had say "Hey, we're here, and we dance, and
its not just ravers that you would be shutting
down through this crackdown".
E-News: Did the rave community enlist the
support of any other organizations?
Lewis: The way that everything was worded
in this government crackdown meant that if they
were going to be banning raves, they would be
banning a number of large exhibitions through
the city, a number of multi-cultural festivals,
the gay pride ball, and things like that. It
really alarmed a number of other communities as
well. We really worked to get their support,
and to help to fight this.
E-News: When the city lifted the ban on raves,
did the government create more regulations on
how parties would be thrown?
Lewis: The protocols for safer dance events was
initially carried out by the Toronto Dance
Safety Committee, which is affiliated with TRIP.
We were very closely involved in writing that
protocols and working with the city to find some
room for agreement. The police force, and the
city of Toronto, and the media were really
working together on this to shut down the scene
and there are a lot of residual affects from
that. There are a lot of protocols in place
that make it really hard for people to throw
parties in Toronto. It has caused a lot of
division among the rave community. People
started finger-pointing. Who wants to work with
the city on something as sacred as your dance
floor? We shouldn't be in this situation anyway.
But unfortunately, we had no choice. All of
these promoters in the city and all of the party
kids in the city could get busted if we hadn't
worked with the city to find some common ground.
The biggest fight around that was to define what
constitutes a rave, and what constitutes a raver.
That was a really tough one to define. We had to
be very choosy with our words, and very careful
as to how we would define a rave, so that other
groups that throw events that aren't necessarily
raves, wouldn't fall into the same sort of
E-News: What experience or advice can you give
on how to deal with a situation where your
community is being unfairly targeted?
Lewis: You have to be really proactive. You have
to say, "we're going to fight this, we're going
Getting Home Safely
Driving home in the morning after staying awake
all night partying can be dangerous. Below are
some suggestions of how to reduce your risk of
getting into a car accident.
*Don't drive if you have been drinking
alcohol. Alcohol lowers your reaction time
and inhibits motor functioning. Don't
drive if you have been using ketamine, GHB,
LSD, mushrooms, ecstasy, speed or any other
strong psychoactive drug. Even if you have
"come down" and think you are fine to drive,
these drugs all have residual effects that
can impair your driving ability. Even
ecstasy and speed, which can make you feel
more alert, are dangerous to drive on.
These drugs especially can take a lot out
of you and make you tired after you come
down. It is always better to get a good
night's sleep before attempting to drive
after using them.
*Don't drive if you are too tired or sleepy.
If you are feeling sleepy, you may be
thinking only about getting home and into
bed. However, it is dangerous to drive in
this condition. (Note: coffee may keep you
awake, but it won't improve your driving
ability if you are significantly tired or
Ways to prevent getting into a potentially
dangerous driving situation
*Assign a "designated driver" who agrees to
stay sober the entire night and to not
exhaust themselves dancing for too long.
*Leave the party or rave before you get too
tired or sleepy to drive. It's safer to
show up early and leave earlier than to
show up late and leave later. Know your
*Take the bus. If you know you are going to
stay all night, some raves end late enough
in the morning that public transportation
systems may be running.
*Take a cab. Compared to the price of some
raves, and definitely some drugs, cab fare
is a relatively minor expense for the
safety it provides. Plan to share a cab
with others to spread out the costs. Also,
think of the great conversations you can
get into with the driver.
If you find yourself in a potentially dangerous
*Have someone else drive the car who has been
sober the whole night or is more rested than
*Take a bus or a cab and come back later to
get your car.
*Go home with someone else and come back
later to get your car.
*Make sure somebody stays awake along with
the driver and keeps conversation going.
Have this person sit in the front passenger
seat. Talking to a sleepy driver helps
keep them awake and alert.
*When all else fails, lock your doors and
sleep in your car! (Keep in mind, however,
that in some states even having your keys
in the ignition constitutes driving under
the influence. If you are intoxicated, you
may want to hide your keys in the tire well
or under the hood, so it is clear to any
police officer who may approach you that
you were never driving in that
You'll find this and other important health and
safety information online at the DanceSafe
web site, http://www.dancesafe.org
The contents of E-News are (c)2001 DanceSafe
and Respective Authors unless otherwise noted.
Permission is hereby granted to freely reprint &
reproduce DanceSafe E-News as long as proper
credit is given, including links where appropriate.
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- FC: Proposed sentencing guidelines make Ecstasy same as heroin Declan McCullagh (Feb 05)