[Wrye Sententia is the Director of Operations of the Alchemind Society: The International Association for Cognitive Liberty]
Last week (September 27, 2000), the Methamphetamine and Club Drug Anti-Proliferation Act was incorporated into the Children’s Health Act of 2000 (H.R. 4365), and passed by both the House and Senate. The Children’s Health Act of 2000 has been delivered to President Clinton for his signature. He is expected to sign it, perhaps as early as October 4.
A legislative analysis by Richard Glen Boire, J.D., of the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, showed that the information ban was unconstitutional, and that banning “harm-reduction” and other accurate information about Ecstasy would irresponsibly endanger users, including thousands of young adults. This analysis also revealed that equating Ecstasy with methamphetamine for sentencing purposes would unintentionally set up an incentive for dealers to sell bogus and adulterated Ecstasy. Mr. Boire’s analysis pointed out that such a policy would significantly increase rather than decrease the individual and social harms associated with Ecstasy use. (See www.cognitiveliberty.org/reports/clubdrugmemo.pdf)
On July 25, 2000 the House Judiciary Committee struck the information ban from the bill, but left unchanged the flawed punishment provisions equating Ecstasy with methamphetamine.
The following day, the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics issued a press release to the media and members of Congress underscoring that “Inasmuch as many injuries associated with MDMA use at raves are the result of receiving adulterated and bogus “Ecstasy,” the Club Drug Act [sentencing]provisions will significantly increase the dangers associated with MDMA.” (See www.cognitiveliberty.org/newsrelease/july262000.htm)
In an ongoing to effort to point out the flaws in the bill, on September 6, 2000, the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, distributed an analysis alert titled “What’s (Still) Wrong with the Methamphetamine and Club Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000?” This alert bulleted 4 fundamental problems with equating Ecstasy to methamphetamine for sentencing purposes. (See www.cognitiveliberty.org/newsrelease/sept72000.htm) With the help of volunteer members of the Alchemind Society, this alert was widely distributed to the media, drug policy reform groups, and approximately 40 members of Congress.
Our analyses and alerts made a definite impact. The bill has been significantly tempered.
On September 27, 2000, when the club drug provisions were attached to the Children’s Health Act, the sentencing provision that would have equated Ecstasy to methamphetamine was completely removed! In its place, Subtitle C of the Children’s Health Act instructs the Sentencing Commission to use its own discretion in setting the penalty for Ecstasy and other “club drug” offenses. The new provision merely tells the Sentencing Commission that Congress has a “sense” that the current punishment for “high-level traffickers” of Ecstasy are too low and should be increased.
This is a definite victory for drug policy reform. National media and law enforcement attention on Ecstasy and “club drugs” has never been higher. The fact that Congress has seen fit to temper its reaction in the midst of such hysteria shows that reasoned analysis still carries weight.
The Alchemind Society’s Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, was the only organization to produce and distribute professional legal analysis and policy updates focused on the flawed Ecstasy and club drug provisions. We also provided the central site on the Internet for obtaining updates and continued analysis of the bills. Thanks to all the Alchemind Society members who helped disseminate the CCLE analysis, to our financial supporters, and to all the drug reform and news organizations that used our reports to substantiate the assertions that the Ecstasy and club drug provisions needed rethinking.