Why the Increase in MDMA ‘Problems’?

I was on the phone with Lucien and Peter, who were at a coffee shop in Portland.

“My Google Alert on ‘Ecstasy’ shows more issues, problems with street Ecstasy,” Peter reported.

“Yes, I’ve also seen some reports on more ER admissions and even deaths,” Lucien added.

“I’ve seen them, too,” I said.

“The Chinese?” Peter asked.

“Have you been listening to Trump? The Chinese aren’t responsible for everything, but they are connected.”

“So you’ve dome some homework?” Lucien asked.

“Yes. I came across a UK psychopharmacologist, a Valerie Curran with University College, London. She was on the BBC recently warning users about high dose Ecstasy.”

“And?” Peter asked.

“Patience!” I said. “She was almost immediately criticized, even vilified, by the drug control crowd for advising users to cut current pills in half, because street pills in UK and rest of Europe may now have 200 mg or more of pure MDMA.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Peter said. “Why would dealers use excess drug?”

“Good question. Apparently there’s a new precursor readily available – from China, of course – that makes it easier and cheaper to produce MDMA. So there’s now sort of a competition to produce, provide more potent pills.”


“It may be a macho thing – kind of a pissing contest between producers or dealers?” Lucien asked.

“That’s been suggested. But there’s probably another – a better – reason.”

“Go on,” Peter said.

“In some European countries the possession of a pill or two is often ignored. So if you’re a small scale user – or dealer – you can have just a few pills on you which can supply many normal doses – you just break up the pill.”

“But if you don’t know – or you’re already partly stoned?…”

“Right – if you take the full pill, which can be 200 or even 300 or more mg, then you have a serious overdose.”

“Especially if you’re a woman, small, or have a bad liver.”

“Yep. This has all hit the media,” I continued, “because the 2016 Global Drug Survey was just released – I’ll send you the link, but here’s a short summary:

2016 is the worst time to be using MDMA in a generation: Increase in use of both MDMA and cocaine over the last 3 years. Concerns over high dose MDMA pills leading to increased risk of acute harm. 4-fold increase in British female clubbers seeking emergency medical treatment in last 3 years. Women 2-3 times more likely to seek emergency treatment than men. UK users take more MDMA in a night than anyone else (almost half a gram). Most people use less than 10 times per year. Less is more (more fun with less MDMA).”

“Has the recommended or optimum dose changed?” Peter asked.

“Not really,” I answered, “although Adam Winstock, who does the Global Drug Survey, has suggested that 80 mg may be the optimum dose for ‘the pleasurable effects of energy, euphoria and empathy.’ So Ananda’s 100 mg is still appropriate for our ex-patients.”

“If only we’d known about the Chinese precursor – the new synthesis approach – Tom could have made much more. There are so many needy patients,” Lucien said.

“We each still have a small personal stock,” I said. “Dispense it wisely.”

We then changed the subject – and discussed our collective plans for the family 2016 Oregon coast reunion.