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MDMA Powder, Pills and Crystal: The persistance of ecstasy and the poverty of policy.

By Zoe Smith, Fiona Measham and Karenza Moore


Commonly known as ecstasy, MDMA has been central to the British acid house, rave and dance club scene over the last 20 years. Figures from the annual national British Crime Survey suggest that ecstasy use has declined since 2001. This apparent decline is considered here alongside the concurrent emergence of a ‘new’ form of ecstasy - MDMA powder or crystal - and the extent to which this can be seen as a successful rebranding of MDMA as a ‘premium’ product in the wake of user disenchantment with cheap and easily available but poor quality pills. These changes have occurred within a policy context, which in the last decade has increasingly prioritised the drugs-crime relationship through coercive treatment of problem drug users within criminal justice-based interventions, alongside a focus on binge drinking and alcohol-related harm. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the information, support and treatment available to ecstasy users since the height of dance drug harm reduction service provision pioneered by the Safer Dancing model in the mid-1990s

Year: 2009
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Provided by: Lancaster E-Prints

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