John Walters' Drug Message: Buy Canadian


A few weeks ago, when U.S. drug czar John P. Walters warned that Canadian drug traffickers were flooding our country with methamphetamine-laced "Extreme Ecstasy," it came as news to drug warriors in Canada. Paul Nadeau, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's national drug branch, recently told the Canadian Press he did not understand why Walters would say such a thing:

"I shook my head when I read the release that they put out," said Nadeau, adding he's never heard of extreme ecstasy.

"That term is unknown to us, certainly in Canada, and I can tell you that I've spoken to law enforcement people in the U.S. and they've never heard of it either so it would appear that it's a term that somebody came up with in a boardroom in Washington, D.C."…

Nadeau said there's nothing new about ecstasy—the so-called love drug that gained popularity during the 1990s rave scene—being laced with methamphetamine or other stimulants and that it's been happening for the last decade.

"According to our stats the presence of methamphetamines in ecstasy is dropping," he said, adding tests by the RCMP indicate that currently, about 35 per cent of ecstasy pills contain meth, down from 75 per cent several years ago.

"Why now do they feel the need to announce this to the world?" Nadeau said of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

I don't know. Maybe to justify their budget by keeping the public in a constant state of alarm about drugs? Walters' press release made it sound as if putting meth in MDMA tablets was a new, growing, scary yet exciting phenomenon linked specifically to Canada:

Alarmingly, more than 55 percent of the Ecstasy samples seized in the United States last year contained methamphetamine. Cutting their product with less-expensive methamphetamine boosts profits for Canadian Ecstasy producers, likely increases the addictive potential of their product, and effectively gives a dangerous "face lift" to a designer drug that had fallen out of fashion with young American drug users.

Confusingly, Walters claimed Ecstasy dealers were ripping off their customers by substituting a cheaper drug for MDMA yet also somehow providing extra value by fortifying the pills with meth. As I noted at the time, the ONDCP's warnings about "Extreme Ecstasy" could be mistaken for advertising, which is often the case with government's anti-drug propaganda. "If I was a meth dealer in Canada," a former ONDCP economist tells the Canadian Press, "I would certainly rebrand mine to 'extreme ecstasy.' " Likewise, I'm sure Canadian pot growers were grateful for Walters' warnings about their "crack of marijuana."

[Thanks to Caleb O. Brown for the tip.]