While former lawmakers in the US jump into the cannabis industry, one Australian legislator recently admitted to using MDMA.
Cat Faehrmann, who represents New South Wales, outed herself as an “occasional” MDMA user amid Australia’s “pill testing” controversy.
Currently, Australia’s politicians are debating whether to allow pill testing services at raves and concerts. In September, five Australians died at music festivals after overdosing on pills sold as Ecstasy. However, because MDMA is illegal, many, if not most, pills sold as MDMA are often adulterated with more dangerous substances. Some don’t contain MDMA at all.
“Since my 20s, I’ve occasionally taken MDMA at dance parties and music festivals,” Faehrmann wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald in January. “I know journalists, tradies, lawyers, public servants, doctors, police and yes, politicians (most well into their forties), who have done the same.”
“As a politician,” she continued, “I’ve made the difficult decision to ‘come out’ in this way because the government’s zero-tolerance approach to drugs has not only been a catastrophic failure in stopping drug use, it is costing people their lives. It is so out-of-touch with millions of people’s reality that everyone has stopped listening.”
Faehrmann later accused Australian lawmakers of being wholly ignorant regarding the realities of drug use. “I'm sitting here as a politician with more experience than anyone else in the building,” she said, according to the BBC. “Maybe not — maybe I'm the only one being honest.”
She wasn’t alone, either. Since she admitted to using MDMA, other Australian politicians have confessed that they also tried drugs in the past. Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Police Minister Mick Gentleman both said they consumed cannabis in their youth. MP Shane Rattenbury joined Faehrmann by stating he had “rolled” on MDMA, too.
Commenting on the Police Minister’s admission to smoking weed, Faehrmann said, “I thought: wow. We've possibly now moved the debate on to a point where previous use is no longer an issue.”
MDMA, like cannabis, has been negatively propagandized over the years by law enforcement and lawmakers. Fears over its supposed harms, like causing brain damage, are typically overblown and don’t apply to responsible consumers. In the US, psychiatrists are investigating MDMA’s ability to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental illness that has proven difficult to treat with conventional pharmaceuticals.
A recent study showed MDMA users are more empathetic than other drug consumers, too.
Opposition to Australia’s pill testing services claim there is no evidence that such services would prevent overdose deaths, and permitting pill testing at concerts and festivals would only encourage wanton drug abuse.
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