Thank you for publishing Linda Marsa's two-sided view of Ecstasy ("The Highs and Lows of Ecstasy," July 16). In America's weird political climate it must have been a tough call. While Ecstasy and other mind-altering drugs have the potential for great social benefits (high success rates in curing heroin and alcohol addictions, for example) their positive uses are still outweighed by the fact that they are illegal even for therapeutic use by licensed physicians. When will our politicians have the courage to acknowledge that the illegality of drugs is by far the major source of the problems surrounding them? When will enough people wake up to this simple fact and begin electing politicians who will work to undo our modern Prohibition?
Open-minded stories such as Marsa's and your willingness to publish them seem to be almost the only rays of hope for rationality.
The Health section does children a disservice by publishing articles such as "The Highs and Lows of Ecstasy." By featuring anecdotal positive leads, you contribute to a feeling of harmlessness for a very dangerous and illegal drug. The week before, the section featured a column on marijuana. Shouldn't the front page of Health feature healthy stories?
"The Highs and Lows of Ecstasy" was a thought-provoking article. The work that the Multidisciplinary Assn. for Psychedelic Research is doing is of particular interest. It is only sad that the "war on drugs" has almost completely precluded the possibility of exploring the value of this potentially very beneficial drug. Politicians are so concerned that someone might use something to feel pleasure that they deny the rest of us the possibility of a wonderful new medicine.
I was fascinated by the article on the emerging use of Ecstasy to resolve depression. The continuous search for miracle drugs accentuates the most obvious fact about current mental health treatment: Most doctors have little idea what causes depression or other mental illness. Thus they are forced to suppress severe mental symptoms through chemical means.
Chinese medicine realizes that depression is a symptom, not a disease. And symptoms have causes. Rather than trying Ecstasy to kill the pain, a more effective and long-lasting approach would be to try an alternative mental health approach: Heal the cause.
Thanks so much for the fair-minded story on the drug Ecstasy (MDMA). This drug is so therapeutically promising that we should be thankful for it. But like most serious tools, it is not a plaything. That's no reason for agencies such as the National Institute for Drug Abuse and the Drug Enforcement Administration to exaggerate about its risks. Like thousands of other drugs, MDMA is a blessing in the right situation, dose and frequency. The negative consequences of misuse, however, do not make a drug evil --not MDMA, not aspirin, not critically dose-dependent heart medicines. Drug warriors: Why don't you grow up?
PAUL M. BISCHKE
Board Member, Drug Policy Reform Group of Minnesota
Ecstasy (MDMA) use is indeed on the rise; and the danger is not the drug itself, but rather the black market created by the illegal nature of the substance. Adulterants such as PMA are much, much more dangerous than the "real thing," and as a result people die. Prohibition is killing more people than drug use ever will.