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[Congressional Record: May 23, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S4317-S4318]



STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

By Mr. GRAHAM (for himself, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Biden,
and Mr. Bayh):
S. 2612. A bill to combat Ecstasy trafficking, distribution, and
abuse in the United States, and for other purposes; to the Committee on
the Judiciary.


The Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I rise today, along with my
colleagues, to introduce the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000--
legislation to combat the recent rise in trafficking, distribution and
abuse of MDMA, a drug commonly known as Ecstasy.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy's Year 2000 Annual Report
on the National Drug Control Strategy clearly states that the use of
Ecstasy is on the rise in the United States, particularly among
teenagers and young professionals. My state of Florida has been
particularly hard hit by this plague. Ecstasy is customarily sold and
consumed at ``raves,'' which are semi-clandestine, all-night parties
and concerts. Young Americans are lulled into a belief that Ecstasy,
and other designer drugs are ``safe'' ways to get high, escape reality,
and enhance intimacy in personal relationships. The drug traffickers
make their living off of perpetuating and exploiting this myth.
    Mr. President, I want to be perfectly clear in stating that Ecstasy
is an extremely dangerous drug. In my state alone, 189 deaths have been
attributed to the use of club drugs in the last three years. In 33 of
those deaths, Ecstasy was the most prevalent drug, of several, in the
individual's system. Seven deaths were caused by Ecstasy alone. In the
first four months of this year there have already been six deaths
directly attributed to Ecstasy. This drug is a definite killer.
Numerous data also reflect the increasing availability of Ecstasy in
metropolitan centers and suburban communities. In a speech to the
Federal Law Enforcement Foundation earlier this year, Customs
Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated that in the first few months of
fiscal year 2000, the Customs Service had already seized over four
million Ecstasy tablets. He estimates that the number will grow to at
least eight million tablets by the end of the year which represents a
substantial increase from the 500,000 tablets seized in fiscal year
1997.
    The lucrative nature of Ecstasy encourages its importation.
Production costs are as low as two to twenty-five cents per dose while
retail prices in the U.S. range from twenty dollars to forty-five
dollars per dose. Manufactured mostly in Europe--in nations such as The
Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain where pill presses are not controlled
as they are in the U.S.--Ecstasy has erased all of the old routes law
enforcement has mapped out for the smuggling of traditional drugs.
    Under current federal sentencing guidelines, one gram of Ecstasy is
equivalent to only 35 grams of marijuana. In contrast, one gram of
methamphetamine is equivalent to two kilograms of marijuana. This
results in relatively short periods of incarceration for individuals
sentenced for Ecstasy-related crimes. When the potential profitability
of this drug is compared to the potential punishment, it is easy to see
what makes Ecstasy extremely attractive to professional smugglers.
    Mr. President, the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000 addresses
this growing and disturbing problem. First, the bill increases the base
level offense for Ecstasy-related crimes, making them equal to those of
methamphetamine. This provision also accomplishes the goal of
effectively lowering the amount of Ecstasy required for prosecution
under the laws governing possession with the intent to distribute by
sending a message to Federal prosecutors that this drug is a serious
threat.
    Second, by addressing law enforcement and community education
programs, this bill will provide for an Ecstasy information campaign.
Through this campaign, our hope is that Ecstasy will soon go the way of
crack, which saw a dramatic reduction in the quantities present on our
streets after information of its unpredictable impurities and side
effects were made known to a wide audience. By using this educational
effort we hope to avoid future deaths like the one columnist Jack
Newfield wrote about in saddening detail.
    It involved an 18-year-old who died after taking Ecstasy in a club
where the drug sold for $25 a tablet and water for $5 a bottle.
Newfield speaks of how the boy tried to suck water from the club's
bathroom tap that had been turned off so that those with drug induced
thirst would be forced to buy the bottled water.
Mr. President, the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000 can only
help in our fight against drug abuse in the United States. We urge our
colleagues in the Senate to join us in this important effort by
cosponsoring this bill.
    Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I am pleased to be joining my
colleague, Senator Graham, to cosponsor the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation
Act of 2000. This legislation is vital for the safety of our children
and our nation. Around the country, Ecstasy use is exploding at an
alarming rate from our big cities to our rural neighborhoods. According
to Customs officials, Ecstasy is spreading faster than any drug since
crack cocaine. This explosion of Ecstasy smuggling has prompted Customs
to create a special task force, that focuses exclusively on the
designer drug.
    Along with my colleague Senator Graham, I believe it is important
that we act to stop the spread of this drug. I join with Senator Graham
in urging our colleagues to support the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act
of 2000, and pass this measure quickly. By enacting this important
bill, we will get drug dealers out of the lives of our young people and
alert the public to the dangers of Ecstasy.<bullet>
    Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, there is a new drug on the scene--Ecstasy,
a synthetic stimulant and hallucinogen. It belongs to a group of drugs
referred to

[[Page S4318]]

as ``club drugs'' because they are associated with all-night dance
parties known as ``raves.''
    There is a widespread misconception that Ecstasy is not a dangerous
drug--that it is ``no big deal.'' I am here to tell you that Ecstasy is
a very big deal. The drug depletes the brain of serotonin, the chemical
responsible for mood, thought, and memory. Studies show that Ecstasy
use can reduce serotonin levels by up to 90 percent for at least two
weeks after use and can cause brain damage. If that isn't a big deal, I don't know what is.
    A few months ago we got a significant warning sign that Ecstasy use
is becoming a real problem. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the
Future survey, a national survey measuring drug use among students,
reported that while overall levels of drug use had not increased, past
month use of Ecstasy among high school seniors increased more than 66
percent.
    The survey showed that nearly six percent of high school seniors have
used Ecstasy in the past year. This may sound like a small number, so
let me put it in perspective--it is just slightly less than the
percentage of seniors who used cocaine and it is five times the number
of seniors who used heroin.
    And with the supply of Ecstasy increasing as rapidly as it is, the
number of kids using this drug is only likely to increase. By April of
this year, the Customs Service had already seized 4 million Ecstasy
pills--greater than the total amount seized in all of 1999 and more
than five times the amount seized in all of 1998.
    Though New York is the East Coast hub for this drug, it is spreading
quickly throughout the country. Last July, in my home state of
Delaware, law enforcement officials seized 900 Ecstasy pills in
Rehoboth Beach. There are also reports of an Ecstasy problem in Newark
among students at the University of Delaware.
    We need to address this problem now, before it gets any worse. That
is why I am pleased to join Senators Graham, Grassley and Thomas to
introduce the ``Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000'' today. The
legislation takes the steps--both in terms of law enforcement and
prevention--to address this problem in a serious way before it gets any
worse.
    The legislation directs the federal Sentencing Commission to increase
the recommended penalties for manufacturing, importing, exporting or
trafficking Ecstasy. Though Ecstasy is a Schedule I drug--and therefore
subject to the most stringent federal penalties--not all Schedule I
drugs are treated the same in our sentencing guidelines. For example,
selling a kilogram of marijuana is not as serious an offense as selling
a kilogram of heroin. The sentencing guidelines differentiate between
the severity of drugs--as they should.
    But the current sentencing guidelines do not recognize how dangerous
Ecstasy really is.
    Under current federal sentencing guidelines, one gram of Ecstasy is
treated like 35 grams of marijuana. Under the ``Ecstasy Anti-
Proliferation Act'', one gram of Ecstasy would be treated like 2
kilograms of marijuana. This would make the penalties for Ecstasy
similar to those for methamphetamine.
    The legislation also authorizes a major prevention campaign in
schools, communities and over the airwaves to make sure that everyone--
kids, adults, parents, teachers, cops, clergy, etc. --know just how
dangerous this drug really is. We need to dispel the myth that Ecstasy
is not a dangerous drug because, as I stated earlier, this is a
substance that can cause brain damage and can even result in death. We
need to spread the message so that kids know the risk involved with
taking Ecstasy, what it can do to their bodies, their brains, their
futures. Adults also need to be taught about this drug--what it looks
like, what someone high on Ecstasy looks like, and what to do if they
discover that someone they know is using it.
    Mr. President, I have come to the floor of the United States Senate
on numerous occasions to state what I view as the most effective way to
prevent a drug epidemic. My philosophy is simple: the best time to
crack down on a drug with uncompromising enforcement pressure is before
the abuse of the drug has become rampant. The advantages of doing so
are clear--there are fewer pushers trafficking in the drug and, most
important, fewer lives and fewer families will have suffered from the
abuse of the drug.
    It is clear that Ecstasy use is on the rise. Now is the time to act
before Ecstasy use becomes our next drug epidemic. I urge my colleagues
to join me in supporting this legislation and passing it quickly so
that we can address the escalating problem of Ecstasy use before it
gets any worse.

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