Watch: Parents Discuss Daughter’s MDMA Death, Need For Harm Reduction

by April M. Short

on February 2, 2015

Nineteen-year old Shelly Goldsmith passed away on August 31, 2013 at an electronic dance music concert after taking MDMA. Shelly was an honors student at the University of Virginia, and her tragic death made headlines around the world. In the video below, Shelly’s parents discuss their daughter’s needless death, and the importance of new drug policies in our society.

They explain that rather than cracking down on people who use drugs, calling them “drug users” and making them into criminals, we need to educate people realistically and allow open, readily-available drug testing. Drug education, they argue, should go beyond the prohibitionist scare tactics usually employed. Better policies, they say, could have saved their daughter’s life, among countless others.

“Shelly and her friends took it because they liked the way it made them feel,” Shelly’s father says in the video. “I think that has to be acknowledged in an effective realistic education campaign to say, ‘Yeah, there’s some good sides to this, there’s some attractive sides, if not good. But there’s some risks associated with it.'”

MDMA, also known as “Molly” or “ecstasy,” was originally developed for use alongside psychotherapy, and recent studies have shown its potential as a safe, effective treatment for various psychological disorders. However, beginning in the early 1980s, MDMA also become a popular street drug. And, as with most recreational substances bought and sold underground, most MDMA users don’t know the actual contents and dosages they’re taking. This is where most risks and tragedies occur.

The new documentary film, MDMA, The Movie, explores the importance of new, more rational drug policies that allow for better drug education and free drug testing at places like raves, festivals and other places where drug use is prevalent. In the film, heartbreaking stories like the Goldsmiths’ are interlaced with a numerous interviews showing MDMA’s unmatched potential to be a positive influence on society. Ultimately, the film is a powerful argument for better, more realistic, harm reduction-based drug policies.

As the film’s producer Emanuel Sferios put it in an email to Reset, the film sets out to be, “a comprehensive … film highlighting MDMA‘s use both therapeutically and recreationally, and advocating harm reduction as an appropriate public health alternative to prohibition.”

Watch the Goldsmiths in the video below.

Written by April M. Short.