Ecstasy use dangerous, Edmonton police warn

Edmonton police are warning the public that the ecstasy linked to at least nine drug deaths in southern Alberta may have arrived in the provincial capital.

4 non-fatal overdoses reported at Jan. 28 rave

A poster released by the Calgary Police Service warns of a deadly drug similar to ecstasy that has been linked to a growing number of deaths. Edmonton police warn PMMA may also have turned up in the Alberta capital. (Calgary Police/Canadian Press)

Edmonton police are warning the public that the ecstasy linked to at least nine drug deaths in southern Alberta may have arrived in the Alberta capital.

Police say PMMA — a compound not usually associated with ecstasy — is being passed off as the drug and may be to blame for some recent overdoses at electronic music parties in Edmonton.  No one died, but police say the warning is warranted.

On Jan. 28, four non-fatal overdoses that police believe may have been associated with ecstasy and PMMA occurred at an Edmonton electronic music event.

"So if it's not here already, it's probably on its way," said Det. Guy Pilon, a drug expert with the Edmonton Police Service drug and gang section. 

Ecstasy is known by users as the ultimate "love drug" but its exhilarating high comes with serious lows and consequences, said Pilon. 

"PMMA is a different chemical that reacts differently with the body so when users take it, the effects are a lot slower. So they figure they have a very weak pill of ecstasy and so they keep taking more tablets or pills until they start to feel the effects and by then, it's too late." 

Both pills look identical and police say it's impossible ever to know the chemical makeup of party drugs. 

"You just never know what's in the pills and any tablet can be contaminated at any time, and with anything," Pilon said. "You are taking chances with your life." 

There were two serious ecstasy-related overdoses in Edmonton in April 2009. Two teen girls were taken to hospital, and one, a 14-year-old, died.  

Ecstasy also was suspected in the death of a 19-year-old woman in Edmonton in May 2010, but the official cause of death could not be determined. 

"There is no control in the manufacturing of ecstasy nor will the person selling these pills know what the true content is," Pilon said. "Even though users are obtaining ecstasy from a perceived reliable dealer, the dealer may not be aware of the contents of the pills he or she is selling."

Edmonton police will be present at all upcoming rave or electronic music events in the city to monitor activity.

The Edmonton Police Service also is working on a public education campaign related to ecstasy and PMMA. Police will launch that campaign later this year.