2001 Report to the Congress: MDMA Drug Offenses, Explanation of Recent Guideline Amendments

This report is submitted pursuant to section 3663(e) of the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000. Congress directed the commission to amend the Federal sentencing guidelines regarding any offense relating to the manufacture, importation, or exportation of, or trafficking in MDMA. This report provides a brief explanation of the guideline amendments promulgated pursuant to the Act. (May 2001)

Key Considerations

  • The challenge for the Commission was to establish a penalty structure that was sufficiently stringent to achieve the objectives set forth by Congress in the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act and shared by the Commission, but also allow the sentencing guidelines to draw adequate penalty distinctions between drug offenders based on their functional role. MDMA is a serious drug with unique properties that made setting the appropriate penalty structure a challenge.
  • Factors considered by the Commission include: the significant increase in prevalence of use – particularly increases in use among young people; the growing availability of the drug; evidence supporting both short- and long-term health consequences of use, including brain damage; reports of compulsive use of the drug by some users; the current limited evidence suggesting collateral consequences resulting from distribution of the drug; and importation and trafficking patterns.
  • The Commission believes the guideline penalties are appropriately and sufficiently severe to target serious and high-level MDMA traffickers and that these heightened penalties will provide appropriate punishment, deterrence, and incentives for cooperation.