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Surge in designer drugs, tainted 'E' poses lethal risks
Date:2/26/2014

hs, you only need a milligram to get high," Hudson said. "If you can buy a kilogram for $200, the mark-up can be huge."

Although Health Canada statistics show ecstasy use is down slightly among young people across the country, a 2006 report from the RCMP shows Canada has become a "major production and export country," a situation that developed over just two years and a significant departure from the mid-1990s, when Canada was an import-consumer nation.

During the same time, Hudson notes, ecstasy has become increasingly toxic, cut with a mix of, at times, deadly chemicals. In a 2007 Health Canada study, only three per cent of seized ecstasy tablets contained pure MDMA, the drug's main ingredient, compared with 69 per cent in 2001.

Two such contaminants are PMA and PMMA; the latter may cause severe serotonin toxicity and has been linked to as many as eight deaths in Alberta over the past two years. Hudson and his colleagues caution that even pure ecstasy can have toxic side-effects that vary by individual, due to genetic factors.

"There is no safe dose of ecstasy," Hudson explained.

Rise of legal highs

Head shops and online operators have increasingly turned to peddling legal highs such as BZP and TFMPP, often sold as "party pills," "Barts" or "Homers" for shapes resembling characters from the Simpsons TV show. Both ingredients were declared illegal in 2012, but have given way in popularity to newer drugs such as "plant food" or bath salts, which have been sold legally as variants of mephedrone, methylone and MDPVthe latter of which is known for inducing a "zombie-like" state and paranoia.

The federal government banned the drug, but Hudson said there will always be others like Benzo fury and various online options to take their place, underscoring the need for more education.

Research grounded in the community

In their efforts to raise awareness, the research team has forge
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Contact: Bryan Alary
bryan.alary@ualberta.ca
780-492-0436
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert  

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