New Study Finds MDMA Purity Levels at an All-Time High and "Branding" Has Increased

The drug's rise in popularity has led to a shift in production
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The drug's rise in popularity has led to a shift in production

A new study by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has revealed thought provoking details about the current state of illegal MDMA production and usage.

For those unfamiliar with the history of MDMA, the drug was first patented by German pharmaceutical company Merck in 1912, but was not produced until 1960. However, it wasn't used until 1970 when psycho-pharmacologist Alexander Shulgin sought to explore it's effect on humans.

In the past, the popular club drug was mainly produced in Belgium and the Netherlands, but today the drug's popularity has grown worldwide. Now Canada and China are among the top producers of MDMA, which has subsequently been a result and factor in the rise in popularity in North America.

Of course, MDMA was the original chemical found in ecstasy pills, along with caffeine, but in the past decade many other substances have been introduced. With that being said, another interesting point made in the report is that MDMA purity levels have risen significantly since 2010 and 2011. 

Pressed pills cannot consist solely of MDMA, in fact only 30% to 40% is typically included in a pill with most of the substance containing binding agents.

Competition has also increased and marketing tactics are now a key focus with "branding" of logos and various shapes being introduces. "The Dutch police report a sharp increase in the number of new tablet designs, from 50 new designs identified in 2012 to a peak of 174 in 2014." The issue at hand is that these specifically designed pills are often reproduced, but with a significantly lower potency. Check out The Creativity of MDMA Pill Pressing to see more.

Over the past 10 years the form of MDMA consumption has shifted from ecstasy pills to powders, as more users believe the powder is more difficult to adulterate. But since 2010, ecstasy tablets have been found to contain higher purity levels of MDMA.

We have also been seeing an increase in MDMA related deaths in recent history. A teenage girl recently died from taking a red "Mastercard" ecstasy pill and five people died at TIme Warp in Argentina. Although the increase is startling, MDMA related deaths are still much lower than that of other drug related deaths, mainly opiates.

Read the full report here