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DEA To Ban “Ecstasy” - The Drug MDMA

May 31, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Drug Enforcement Administration will make ″Ecstasy″ - the drug MDMA - illegal under an emergency ban effective July 1, a DEA source said Thursday.

MDMA has been used by some psychotherapists who maintain it creates a feeling of well-being in patients, making them more receptive to treatment.

The DEA source, speaking only if not identified by name, said the agency will announce the ban at a news conference Friday.

DEA Acting Administrator John C. Lawn on Tuesday signed an order placing the drug under what is known as Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, said another source, also insisting on anonymity.

Schedule 1 contains the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin.

Possession of a ″trace″ of a Schedule 1 drug could net a first-time offender 15 years in prison and a $125,000 fine, said a DEA spokesman.

DEA has used the emergency power, granted it under the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, once before when it banned so-called ″synthetic heroin″ - methylfentanyl - in March.

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, wrote to Lawn earlier this month asking for the emergency ban on ″Ecstasy.″

MDMA - 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine - is chemically related to the hallucinogen mescaline. The sources said DEA wants it banned while research is conducted, because another related drug, MDA, causes brain damage.

According to one source, DEA has information about parties being held in Texas in order to organize ″pyramid″ sales of MDMA. Participants paid $20 for a sample tablet and were recruited to find other sellers of the legal drug, the source said.

The emergency ban begins 31 days after a comment period is announced in the Federal Register. The emergency ban lasts a year. Meantime, DEA and the Food and Drug Administration will hold hearings and seek to make the ban permanent, said one source.

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