Amendment: The Commentary to §2D1.1 captioned "Application Notes" is amended in Note 10 in the Drug Equivalency Tables in the subdivision captioned "LSD, PCP, and Other Schedule I and II Hallucinogens (and their immediate precursors)*" in the line referenced to "MDA" by striking "50 gm" and inserting "500 gm"; in the line referenced to "MDMA" by striking "35 gm" and inserting "500 gm"; in the line referenced "MDEA" by striking "30 gm" and inserting "500 gm"; and by inserting "1 gm of Paramethoxymethamphetamine/PMA = 500 gm of marihuana" after the line referenced to "MDEA".

Reason for Amendment: This amendment addresses the directive in the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000 (the "Act"), section 3664 of Pub. L. 106–310, which instructs the Commission to provide, under emergency amendment authority, increased penalties for the manufacture, importation, exportation, or trafficking of Ecstasy. The directive specifically requires the Commission to increase the base offense level for 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), 3,4-Methylenedioxy-N-ethylamphetamine (MDEA), Paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMA), and any other controlled substance that is marketed as Ecstasy and that has either a chemical structure similar to MDMA or an effect on the central nervous system substantially similar to or greater than MDMA.

The amendment addresses the directive by amending the Drug Equivalency Table in §2D1.1, Application Note 10, to increase substantially the marihuana equivalencies for the specified controlled substances, which has the effect of substantially increasing the penalties for offenses involving Ecstasy. The new penalties for Ecstasy trafficking provide penalties which, gram for gram, are more severe than those for powder cocaine. Currently under the Drug Equivalency Table, one gram of powder cocaine has a marihuana equivalency of 200 grams. This amendment sets the marihuana equivalency for one gram of Ecstasy at 500 grams.

There are a combination of reasons why the Commission has substantially increased the penalties in response to the congressional directive. Much evidence received by the Commission indicated that Ecstasy: (1) has powerful pharmacological effects; (2) has the capacity to cause lasting physical harms, including brain damage; and (3) is being abused by rapidly increasing numbers of teenagers and young adults. Indeed, the market for Ecstasy is overwhelmingly comprised of people under the age of 25 years.

Before voting to promulgate this amendment, the Commission considered whether the penalty levels for Ecstasy should be set at the same levels as for heroin (i.e., one gram of heroin has a marihuana equivalency of 1000 grams) and decided that somewhat lesser penalties were appropriate for Ecstasy for a number of reasons: (1) the potential for addiction is greater with heroin; (2) heroin distribution often involves violence while, at this time, violence is not reported in Ecstasy markets; (3) because it is a narcotic and is often injected, the risk of death from overdose is much greater from heroin; and (4) because heroin is often injected, there are more secondary health consequences, such as infections and the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis.

Finally, based on information regarding Ecstasy trafficking patterns, the penalty levels chosen are appropriate and sufficient to target serious and high-level traffickers and to provide appropriate punishment, deterrence, and incentives for cooperation. The penalty levels chosen for Ecstasy offenses provide five year sentences for serious traffickers (those whose relevant conduct involved at least 800 pills) and ten year sentences for high-level traffickers (those whose relevant conduct involved at least 8,000 pills).

Effective Date: The effective date of this amendment is May 1, 2001.