A correspondent recently expressed some confusion over the source of recreationally abused MDMA ("Ecstasy"; 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) because of an awareness that it typically is obtained and used as tablets. This person was under the impression that perhaps street Ecstasy was a diversion of a licit product (see ketamine). Not so.
A recent Daily Telegraph report from New South Wales in Australia supplies an excellent example.
HUNDREDS of thousands of ecstasy tablets destined for the Christmas party market have been seized by police after a $12 million drug kitchen was uncovered in a suburban house.
mmm. Doesn't this operation look sanitary? The report indicates a kilo of powder was found in the vacuum cleaner. Wonder if that went right back into the pill press....yuck. Wait, wait, where's my idea book..."do rat feces enhance the subjective effects of oral MDMA in a dose dependent manner?". Hmm, the ol' IRB might have a little problem with this one...
Sorry. Back to the point. I dunno if you just buy a pill press off Ebay or Craig's list or whatever but they sure don't look that sophisticated to me. Apparently they are easily set up in your average suburban bedroom or kitchen. I had been previously under the impression that surely these were at least warehouse operations (not for any reason other than just guessin'). Turns out this is not the case and a simple flat or house can probably produce quite an impressive number of pills in short order. As per Alexander Shulgin quoted in the Economist, "It's a very simple compound to make". He would know.
The Economist's puffery on clinical MDMA for PTSD is typical for the class, failing to communicate that there might be some reasons for concern about MDMA use for therapeutic purposes. They bury a "can have lethal effects" statement in there but for the most part it communicates the current journalistic position of "w00000t!!!". Where are those 'sklowns to 'splain to us eggheaded scientists about how to communicate science again?
One more interesting bit I noticed from the bust.
Crikey, doesn't this look like a serious biohazard? I sure hope they had closed respirators on when running this equipment...
Oh and would you Ecstasy fans with toddlers please, please, please (please) lock up your damn stash of pills!??!! There are a disturbing number of case reports on this topic, no doubt only a small fraction of the number of actual cases of toddler exposure. In this recent Aussie case, the kid started to seize as the first symptom which is apparently typical going by the case reports. The cardiac arrest mentioned does not strike me as quite so common but I'll have to go back and re-read the lit to make sure. Aaaanyway, the fact is that some kids will pick up anything that is lying around and put it in their mouths. Some will limit themselves to anything that looks like it might be a candy. Is it really that hard to keep your MDMA somewhere the little rugrats can't get into it?