At the end of the month Channel Four will show a controversial experiment around the use of MDMA to determine its potential value in the world of psychotherapy- helping people whoÃÂ sufferÃÂ from post-traumatic stress disorders or manic depression for instance. Carl Stanley fills us in regarding the details of the programme & the arguments against it then gives us his thoughts on the matter.
The programme watches the journeys of 6 volunteers, two of which include writer Lionel Shriver and actor Kieth Allen, as they go through a series of scans and tests while using the drug.
Not only are Channel Four screening the show, scheduled for the end of October, but they’ve also financed it themselves with one of the experiment’s designers David Nut (professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London) insisting;
“We have failed to get money for research from conventional sources, which is why the Channel 4 intervention is fantastic. Nearly half a million people are believed to take ecstasy or MDMA every year in the UK, but there has been very little research into what it does in the brain. These experiments will give us a much clearer picture of the fundamental effects of MDMA on the resting brain than anyone has been able to get before.”
Controversially broadcasting the show on prime time TV has already brought up criticism with worries regarding the programme being seen as an endorsement of the drug. Professor of psychology Andy Parrott of Swansea University, who has researched MDMA for 15 years, says:
“Once people start writing that MDMA is being used for therapy, kids will look at that and think it’s a safe drug”,
Others like The Transform Drug Policy Foundation have also stated concerns as saying they were ‘not convinced’ the show was the right way to explore the issue”.
Though aÃÂ spokesman for the Home Office has alreadyÃÂ givenÃÂ the show a green light stating;
“Televising the use of illegal drugs risks trivialising a serious issue. Our licensing regime allows legitimate research to take place in a secure environment so that harmful drugs can’t get into the hands of criminals. There is no evidence to suggest that the current listing of MDMA as a Schedule 1 substance is a barrier to attracting funding for legitimate purposes.”
Kieth Allen himself has also spoken about the programme defending it and insisting it would be wrong to suggest that the show would glamorise drugs in anyway.ÃÂ Appearing on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ he commented;
“If you think that I’m glamorising the taking of drugs by spending an hour and 20 minutes for two consecutive Mondays in an MRI scanning machine, then you’re insane”.
He went on to talk about theÃÂ experiment whichÃÂ included 26 volunteers inÃÂ total,ÃÂ with only 6 being filmed;
“There were policemen taking part, There were definitely soldiers and people who’d never taken it before. It’s a very, very forensic analysis, a neurological analysis of the effects of MDMA.”
Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial is on Channel 4 on 26 and 27 September at 10pm
It seems rather mad that Channel Four are not only screening the programme but funding it as well..!,(I love Channel 4, Cutting Edge and so on, best UK TV by far) though that could be down to the potential viewing figures a programme like this could generate.
EitherÃÂ way its great that MDMA is starting to get the sameÃÂ treatmentÃÂ cannabis has been getting throughout the last few years in regard to its progression and use within health care.ÃÂ Anyone who was lucky enough to be around the dance scene in 87 will probably tell you of MDMA’s life changing properties, the power to bring rivalÃÂ footieÃÂ fans together for a hug in the middle of the dance floor at 3am in someÃÂ warehouse on the M25 or on a farm in Blackburn -ÃÂ a truly magic time!.
But its not about any of that really, its about improving peoples lives withÃÂ man-madeÃÂ drugs that we already know work rather well but need a closer looking at, people such as those with manic depression, anxiety & a whole host ofÃÂ neurological conditions.
Its time MDMA was investigated for these reasons and its hats off to Channel Four for putting the money up as well as screening the programme, for what ever their reason.
Like wise with Mr Allen putting himself forward for such an experiment, a great choice as his own and prettyÃÂ extensiveÃÂ use of E in the late 80′s / early 90′s will provide great back groundÃÂ knowledge this endeavour.
But what do you think, is this a clever move by Channel Four or should such an process not be the subject of prime time TV…? Let us know in the comments below.
All words by Carl Stanley. You can read more from Carl on LTW here.