'Natural ecstasy' linked to man's death at club
July 02, 2008
A natural product widely sold as a safe and legal form of the street drug ecstasy is being linked by Toronto police to overdoses which killed a man and left a young woman in critical condition.
Both overdoses occurred downtown at The Guvernment club and involved a product called Pure Rush, police said.
The product is available on the Internet and reportedly can also be bought over the counter in local drug paraphernalia shops.
The male victim, 55, collapsed early Monday shortly after ingesting the product at the Queens Quay E. club, police said. Emergency crews took him to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Roughly 24 hours later, police said, a young woman took a similar product at the club and also collapsed.
She remains in hospital in critical condition.
Identities of both were withheld pending notification of family.
Toronto police Det. Dave Alexander said the man suffered from high blood pressure and it is unclear if that was a factor in his death.
Police issued a public safety warning yesterday describing the overdoses and citing Pure Rush as a stimulant that can be bought in drug culture shops, and "is believed to create the same effect" as ecstasy.
Police believe the victims took the "natural ecstasy" in pill form.
One website promotes another such product, XTZ, as a "party pill" and six-hour "energy booster," charging $24.21 (U.S.) for 25 pills. The site listed XTZ natural ingredients as caffeine, free-form amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins B6 and B2, and black pepper extract.
Police said there was no evidence to suggest the two Guvernment cases were connected. Alexander said he believes the victims did not purchase the pills at the club.
Attempts to contact The Guvernment last night were unsuccessful.
Police say they issued the alert to warn people about the possible dangers of the natural ecstasy substitutes.
"Even though some of these things are billed as safe, it may not be the case," said Alexander.
[h3]Man dies after taking 'herbal ecstasy' at club[/h3]
Police are warning club-goers against taking products sold as herbal ecstasy after a patron of Toronto's Guvernment nightclub died earlier this week and another fell ill.
The 55-year-old man collapsed early Monday morning after allegedly taking "Pure Rush," a product sold over the counter as a natural, safe and legal alternative to ecstasy. The man collapsed shortly after ingesting the substance and was pronounced dead in hospital.
Another woman collapsed at the club the following day after taking ecstasy or the so-called herbal alternative. The woman collapsed early Tuesday morning and is currently in critical condition in an area hospital.
Police said the man had a history of high blood pressure but they don't know if it was a factor in his death.
Guvernment owner/operator Charles Khabouth alleged that the victim bought the substance at a "head shop" on Yonge Street and ingested it before he entered the club, adding the Guvernment has a strictly-enforced drug search for anyone coming in.
"The search is so thorough that we probably see 50 people over the weekend who get scared by how thorough it is and don't want to come in," he told CTV.ca in a phone interview on Wednesday. "We do not take chances."
His staff will confiscate any drug that is not easily identified as a common legal substance such as Tylenol or Advil, he said.
"We have buckets of water where the search happens. If we find anything we do not understand, it will be dropped in the bucket or people can just walk away," said Khabouth. "Anything that would say 'ecstasy' would definitely be dropped."
Ecstasy, a member of the amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs, gives users a euphoric sensation. It is popular in the club scene and is said to allow users to stay awake longer than usual.
"Pure Rush" is often sold at stores known for selling drug paraphernalia.
Similar products, calling themselves "natural" or "herbal" ecstasy, can also be purchased online. They often contain of highly levels of caffeine or ephedra, a Chinese herb and stimulant used in asthma medicines and decongestants.
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