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Pure ecstasy should be legal according to Canadian health official

Pure ecstasy, otherwise known as MDMA, should be legal in Canada, according to one health official.
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A customs agent holds a hanful of ecstasy. Canadian police are struggling to control the drug, which they link to at least 25 deaths in recent months. (U.S. Customs/AFP/Getty Images)

Pure ecstasy, otherwise known as MDMA, should be legal in Canada, according to one health official. 

The Canadian Press reported, Dr. Perry Kendall, the chief provincial health officer of British Columbia, has asserted that the risks of MDMA are overblown, and that it only becomes dangerous once man-made chemicals are used to cut the drug by money-hungry gangs who cook it up.

Kendall believes that MDMA should be legalized and sold through licensed, government-run stores where the product can be strictly regulated.

"If you knew what a safe dosage was, you might be able to buy ecstasy like you could buy alcohol from a government-regulated store," Kendall said in an interview. He added that he doesn't believe it is a technical question of how to manage the drug, but rather a political and perceptual one. 

However, a commentary blog by CBCNews noted that MDMA has been attributed as the cause of death for at least 16 people in Western Canada since last July. The blog did note that the tablets were cut with a toxin called PMMA.

Dr. Evan Wood, a lead researcher at the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and an internationally-recognized expert in drug addiction and related policies, also came to MDMA's defense comparing MDMA to methyl alcohol, which led to huge rates of morbidity in the United States under prohibition because of illicit alcohol manufacturing. He said that like methyl alcohol, PMMA is,"an expected consequence of the prohibition on ecstasy."

More from GlobalPost: Speed and ecstasy drug use linked to teen depression

The National Institute of Drug Abuse says the effects of MDMA include euphoria, increased heart rate and an increase in blood pressure. It can also produce, "confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety."

A February 2011 report published in the Addiction Journal showed that MDMA is not addictive and does not impair cognitive ability.

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