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Cops in ecstasy over the chance to lock up more trippers
By Will Evans
As if there aren't enough nonviolent, recreational drug users clogging jails, two bills working their way through the state legislature aim to crack down on ecstasy, whether it's in a person's hands or system.
State senator Bob Margett (R-Arcadia) and Assemblymember Lynne Leach (R-Walnut Creek) introduced their bills, S.B. 1103 and A.B. 1416, after police asked the legislators for powerful tools to cut down the swelling ranks of teenage drug users.
The police, Leach says, want California law to match federal code, which puts ecstasy, along with pot and heroin, in the Controlled Substances Act's Schedule I category, meaning it's considered to have a high potential for abuse and to be lacking any medical benefit.
The narc-pushed bills, which go before the Public Safety Committee of each house Jan. 15 and, if successful, will go before the legislature by Jan. 31, would "make it easier for prosecutors to get a conviction," says Jerome Encinas, of Margett's office.
Though police already fight ecstasy peddling, these bills would slap anyone caught "under the influence" of the drug with a mandatory 90-day-minimum stint in the slammer. Leach says possession will be an automatic felony; currently San Francisco's district attorney sometimes doles out misdemeanors.
"It gives police the clout they need to shut the thing down," Leach says. The "thing" she refers to is a rave. When asked how cops will get the criminal ecstasy eaters, she says, "What they can certainly do is find out where a person has been, if someone has been to a party."
Critics fear "rave profiling" and curbside drug tests at every warehouse. Noting ecstasy's use among therapists, Julie Ruckel of the Lindesmith Center Drug Policy Foundation says the measures "would basically wipe out any potential for [ecstasy's] medical use as a psychotherapeutic aid." She's asking people to call their representatives to oppose the bill.
"This truly is a type of thought-policing, saying this particular state of mind is criminal," says attorney Richard Boire, who plans to testify against both bills. "Their claim to act on behalf of young people is egregious, because what they're doing is harming young people."
Attorney General Bill Lockyer supports the GOP bills, but his spokesperson said cops would focus on possession rather than urine tests. Either way, with a little bipartisan oomph, we may soon have hordes of E-trippers getting lovey-dovey with their jail guards.