Ecstasy Rising is a 1-hour ABC News special devoted to the rising importance of the drug. It caused a small furor when it was released - congressmen called it irresponsible and accused Peter Jennings of turning impressionable kids onto drugs. It was hailed by drug advocates as a breakthrough - the first media coverage of MDMA that looked at the facts and bypassed political maneuvering.
"We are rarely surprised by media coverage about recreationalpsychoactives. Most can be lumped into the broad genre ofsensationalist exposé about the terrible dangers of drugs designed totitillate teens and frighten parents. The ABC News special "EcstasyRising", first aired on April 1st, 2004, stands out mostly because ofthe very high contrast with the typical news stories about the illegaluse of psychoactives. It also stands out because it represents a realeffort to document some of the serious failings in the government's'war on ecstasy' and some of the collateral damage that it has caused.
The main messages of Ecstasy Rising can be summarized as: Ecstasy hasbecome the second most popular illegal psychoactive drug for new users,its use has grown at an unprecedented rate, there are many seeminglysane people who believe it can be beneficial, the government hasradically overstated the health risks in order to try to stop youngpeople from trying it, the "holes in the brain" research was justwrong, and the exaggeration of the risks alone may have cost oursociety more than we know.
The hour-long special clearly represented an effort by Peter Jennings(both narrator and executive producer) and the ABC News team to do newinvestigative reporting. They had been working on this show for wellover a year before it aired. Erowid first heard about the story in late2002 when we were contacted by ABC about an interview (we declined toparticipate). They included historical footage, images, and interviewsof interest even to those who spend all their time following thisfield. The most novel elements were clips from the infamous 1985Donahue show about Ecstasy, photos of Leo Zeff, an influentialunderground therapist in the 1970s who advocated the use of MDMA as anadjunct to psychotherapy, and an interview with Michael Clegg, theperson believed to have coined the term "ecstasy" who was key topopularizing MDMA in Dallas in the early 1980s.
The show, overall, was excellent. Ecstasy Rising should be consideredrequired viewing for anyone interested in ecstasy-related media."
Links with more information
Erowid's detailed review of the program
MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) information page
Drug Policy Alliance: Thank ABC!