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[Congressional Record: April 26, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S2893]


ECSTASY

Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, many times I have come to the floor to express my concerns regarding the threat of illegal drugs to our young people. Today, I want to address one drug in particular, a designer drug called Ecstasy. Although it has been around a long time, its use has exploded recently. As with most such drugs, drug pushers are marketing it as a safe drug. That's a lie. Ecstasy is a Schedule I synthetic drug with amphetamine-like properties that is inexpensive and easy to make. It acts as a stimulant and a hallucinogen for approximately 4 to 6 hours and gives its users a false sense of ease and relaxation. Because of these effects, Ecstasy is often found in big city club scenes that specialize in attracting young people. Recently, however, the nation is experiencing an Ecstasy explosion, which is spreading this dangerous drug into suburban and rural areas. With the recent release of a study on substance abuse in mid-size cities and rural America by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), this is particularly disturbing. In January of this year, CASA warned that Americans need to recognize that drugs are not only an urban problem, but a rural problem as well. I see this in my own state of Iowa. CASA reports that 8th graders living in rural America are 34 percent more likely to smoke marijuana and 83 percent more likely to use crack cocaine, than those in urban areas. It also reports that among 10th graders, use rates in rural areas exceed those in urban areas for every drug except marijuana and Ecstasy. The key here is that Ecstasy is not yet, but is quickly becoming a rural drug. It is imperative that parents and kids become aware of Ecstasy and the dangers of use. Unfortunately, Ecstasy is quickly becoming the drug of choice among many of our young people. It is perceived by many as harmless because negative effects are not immediately noticeable. In fact, Ecstasy is often referred to as a recreational drug. For this reason, it is not surprising that Monitoring the Future, an annual study that monitors illicit drug use among teenagers, reported Ecstasy use growing. Lifetime use among 12th graders increased from one in fifteen in 1998 to one in twelve in 1999. Past year use went from one in twenty-five in 1998 to one in fifteen in 1999. This is a disturbing upward trend. Ecstasy is a dangerous drug that can be lethal. Many are unaware that it can cause increased heart rate, nausea, fainting, chills, and sleep problems. In addition to physical effects, there are also psychological effects such as panic, confusion, anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Scientists are also learning that Ecstasy may cause irreversible brain damage, and in some cases it simply stops the heart. We need to put an end to the spread of Ecstasy into our communities. We need to take away its image as safe. We need to counter the arguments, that it is a fun drug. However, with recent reports of rises in Ecstasy seizures by the U.S. Customs Service, it seems we have a long, hard battle ahead of us. In fiscal year 1999, Customs seized 3 million doses of Ecstasy. In the first 5 months of fiscal year 2000, Customs seized 4 million doses. Ecstasy has become such a threat that Customs has established an Ecstasy Task Force to gather intelligence on criminal smuggling of Ecstasy. Customs has also trained 13 dogs to detect Ecstasy among those crossing the border and entering major airports. Although much is being done to stop the flow into our country, we need to play our part and educate the young people in our communities. In my home state of Iowa, Ecstasy is not yet a major problem and this may be the case in your home states as well. However, I am here today to tell you that if it isn't a problem now, it may be soon. We need to stop the use of Ecstasy before it starts. And the way to do that is to educate the parents and young people in our communities on the dangers. I don't want to see any more innocent lives cut short or careers ruined because of bad or no information.

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