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E for Ecstasy
by Nicholas Saunders

[ References 101-150 ] [ Index ] [ Appendix 2 ]

Appendix 1: Reference Section (151-200)
151 Sunday Times 9/1/94

"The American experience is that the profits from drugs are so immense, and the demand so enormous, that prohibition makes matters much worse.

"It makes drugs artificially expensive, thus forcing their consumers to commit even more crime to pay for them. Legalising drugs is in every sense a terrible admission of failure, yet it remains the only possible strategy for making a dent in the crime statistics. In neither Britain nor California will the mainstream politicians admit it"

152 Letter from Dr. John Henry of the National Poisons Unit, 13/12/93

Reply to my request for a list of contaminants in tablets and capsules sold as 'Ecstasy', referring to an article in Time Out saying that "Ecstasy" contained heroin, crushed glass and rat poison:

"I know of the following drugs (some of which represent 'active' ingredients, others being constituent of reformulated tablets):

Paracetamol Codeine Dihydrocodeine Amphetamine MDA MDEA Ketamine Tiletamine LSD

"We are not so interested in the non-pharmacological constituents, but have heard of fishbowl preservative tablets, camden tablets etc. being sold. These are not particularly dangerous."

153 X at the Crossroads by Dr. J Newmeyer of Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, San Francisco, June 1993

"At present MDMA enjoys the greatest growth potential among all illicit drugs. I believe that MDMA will either gain de facto tolerance, or 'marijuana-like acceptance' to the larger society or will undergo a hostile 'LSD-like' rejection. The next 24 months will be decisive . . ."

Factors favouring acceptance:

1. Declining salience of the 'drug abuse problem'. Since 1985, the proportion of Americans citing drug abuse as the number one problem has declined steadily. This means that it would be difficult to open up another front in the war on drugs. To wage war on MDMA will require that public outrage be whipped up once again, . . . that people not of the 'criminal type' be jailed.

2. Low incidence of adverse reactions. Millions of uses result in only a handful of serious problems being reported. The dearth of MDMA horror stories leaves opponents without the ammunition needed for a campaign of suppression.

3. Articulate proponents. Unlike users of heroin or 'crack', many MDMA users are from the educated middle class who go on to obtain high qualifications and influential jobs. They will provide strong opposition to suppression.

4. Harm prevention campaigns. These will further reduce the number of mishaps, and thus the number of horror stories.

Factors favouring rejection:

1. Tendency for more use by people who are less educated and have more personal problems. This is likely to produce more adverse reactions, thus lowering the reputation of the drug.

2. Increased use in rave setting in more likely to produce adverse reactions. Use late at night among strangers in harsh surroundings is the opposite to the 'ideal setting' recommended by cognoscenti: well rested, during daytime in a calm environment with a few trusted friends.

3. Media coverage distorting problem. A few spectacular mishaps out of millions can mis-educate the public into believing the drug is more dangerous than, say, alcohol.

4. Puritanism. Deeply embedded cultural hostility to pleasure and idleness may be aroused by the behaviour of MDMA users. Newmeyer concludes that he is certain that by June 1995 there will be a striking swing in public attitude oneway of the other.

154 The Pursuit of Ecstasy - the MDMA Experience by Gerome Beck and Marsha Rosenbaum published Feb 1994 by State University of New York Press at $14.95

This 240 page book is a comprehensive look at the drug as seen by two sociologists who started their project less than two years after prohibition. Their style is authoritative and academic but easy reading, covering very much the same aspects as this book. I would recommend it as a present to a parent, teacher or anyone who may consider this book is biased by my own enthusiasm.

The main differences are in that they cover American usage more thoroughly (and even went to interview people involved in the Dallas scene), but have less on the British and European current usage. The other difference is that the book was already 10 months out of date when it appeared, time which I saved by publishing it myself.

They start out with three personal accounts, each representing a different type of user and how their experiences vary according to their expectations and beliefs. Most of the rest of the book is based on 100 interviews with users.

Particular points worthy of note include:

Attitudes. One is that the drug 'does things to you', so that the effects noticed are those of the drug itself. The other is that the drug allows the user free expression, so the effects reflect aspects of the user's personality that are normally suppressed.

Group experience. Some New Agers relate the MDMA experience to 'morphic resonance', a term coined by Rupert Sheldrake, as though the E allows them to tap into a field of cumulative collective experience. The forerunners of Raves were Grateful Dead concerts that have been going ever since 1965, and where a large number of people take drugs and feel a group-mind experience.

Acceptability. Ecstasy was used and accepted by straight people who saw it as 'safe' or 'not a drug', particularly before it was prohibited. Several examples of this are given, from the Dallas hedonists (who were well-off young professionals) to New Agers who see the E state as real, not a stoned state.

Truth serum: "I believe it lowers your sense of fear and you fall in love with yourself. When you do that, you're more willing to take risks, and one of the risks is telling the truth". It enables one to speak the truth, but does not prevent one from lying.

Sex. Prostitutes found MDMA helpful in creating a better atmosphere with clients, and a topless dancer was able to accept and feel less abused by gross behaviour, and to earn more tips as a result. Some people became open to new kinds of sexual experiences.

Creativity. One person described MDMA as an artistic 'flavour enhancer' and would use frequent small amounts to help study. A writer described how Ecstasy allowed him to engross himself more in the content, and to allow his description to flow more spontaneously.

Lasting effects. It was easy to integrate experience into everyday life. The most frequently reported spiritual effect was a profound feeling of connectedness with all of nature and mankind. It made marriage break ups easier. A psychotherapist believed MDMA helped him to know himself better, and therefore be more open with clients.

Bad effects. Recreational users seem to have hangovers, while therapeutic users would value the 'afterglow'. Users who tried more than 200 mg reported less good effects.

Addiction. Does not occur in long term. Although many users have binged, the after effects put people off and frequent users find they need a break to regain effects.

Toxicity. Fenfluramine has been approved for daily use although, at only 1.25 times normal dose, it produces a similar type of damage to MDMA overdoses.

p.176 has a table comparing usage of various other drugs by a sample of 100 E users. In order of popularity, they are: Marijuana 96%, Cocaine 84%, Psilocybin 82%, LSD 81%, Speed pills 66%, Mescaline 57%, Methamphetamine 48%, MDA 31% 2CB 24% and MDEA (Eve) 21%. The number who had quit usage was also given, and showed that only 9% had given up MDMA while a higher proportion had given up everyother drug: 15% Marijuana, 29% psilocybin, 44% Cocaine, 50% methamphetamine and 73% speed pills.

Another table asked users to say how much they liked various drugs on a scale from 1 to 5. Taking means, the most liked in order were MDMA, Psilocybin, Mescaline, 'other opiates', Caffeine, Marijuana, LSD and Alcohol while Methamphetamine, Speed pills Tobacco and Cocaine scored much lower.

Conclusion says the benefits experienced from Ecstasy can be seen as a measure of how stressful and isolating our society is.

155 An analysis of the potential for HIV transmission among stimulant-using ravers by Drs Hilary Klee and Julie Morris, Manchester Metropolitan University, June 1993

The study aimed to discover whether increased sensuality and social interaction due to drugs taken at raves may lead to greater sexual activity and spread of HIV. To assess this, two studies were undertaken in the North of England.

The results of the first study relating to amphetamine users were: Those attending raves made no more casual sexual contacts than non-ravers. Amphetamine (including Ecstasy) users were less likely to have sexual intercourse, and were more positive towards condom use. Their risk of infection with HIV was therefore less.

The second study concerned injecting polydrug users. Of these, 10% were regular Ecstasy users; two-thirds of who were under 25 applying equally to men and women. Ecstasy users were more likely to also use frequent and high doses of cannabis and amphetamine. Ecstasy users had more friends and were less likely to inject alone. Ecstasy users had greater interest in sex and had more sex with more partners. Although their attitude to condom use was similar to non-users, increased sexual activity also put them at greater risk of HIV infection.

156 Chronic MDMA use: Effects on Mood and Neuropsychological Function? by George Ricaurte et al. in American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 18/3, 1992

The object of this study was to see whether MDMA use may produce long-term psychological effects. Nine individuals were studied with extensive MDMA use (twice a month for 5 years).

None of the 9 reported current psychiatric problems although 7 reported previous periods in their lives when they suffered from anxiety or depression. Most had family histories of alcohol or other substance abuse. All sometimes also used other substances, although MDMA was there drug of choice.

"Mental status examinations did not reveal any clinical impairments in cognitive function, nor did neurological exams reveal any focal neurologic deficits."

"Performance in the Wechsler Memory Scale was subtly impaired in several subjects" - but the amount of impairment did not correlate with the amount of MDMA used. All but the heaviest user of MDMA showed at least mild impairment in at least one neuropsychological function. However, none showed affective or anxiety disorder or depression.

A note of caution adds that the sample was too small to draw definite conclusions from, but the overall result was that heavy MDMA users probably had slightly worse short-term memories, but were not depressed nor did they show any other problems that might effect their lives.

157 Serotonin Neurotoxicity after MDMA: A Controlled Study in Humans by George Ricaurte et al. 1994 Neuropsychopharmacology in press.

Whether or not MDMA is neurotoxic in humans has not been established, though it is known to cause damage to brain serotonin neurons in experimental animals.

30 MDMA users and 28 controls matched for weight, height, education and other drug use were admitted to a controlled inpatient setting after at least 2 weeks abstinence. On average, they had taken 170 mg doses of MDMA weekly on 95 occasions over 5 years. As there is no method for detecting serotonergic neurotoxicity in the living human brain, an indirect method was used consisting of measuring the concentration of 5-HIAA in spinal fluid. Previous studies in monkeys had established a relationship between serotonergic neurotoxicity and concentration of 5-HIAA in spinal fluid. Assessments were also made of pain endurance since serotonin has been associated with pain. In addition, personality assessments were made and compared with the control group.

Results showed that MDMA users had lower levels of 5-HIAA, implying their serotonin levels were lower. However, there was no significant correlation between 5-HIAA levels and number of uses of MDMA; nor duration or frequency of use, nor time since last MDMA exposure. It is suggested that trials are made among users of fenfluramine, which is "taken by more people and more frequently than MDMA, and is highly toxic to 5-HT neurons in non-human primates" produces similar results.

There was no difference in pain endurance between MDMA users and controls. Personality measurements showed statistically significant differences between MDMA users and controls: MDMA users were assessed as "less impulsive, more harm-avoidant, and have decreased indirect hostility". This was unexpected, since it had been previously assumed that lower serotonin levels corresponded to increased impulsive aggressive behaviour. Alternative explanations for these findings were discussed and dismissed as unlikely.


1. The finding that spinal 5-HIAA levels were lower in MDMA users, and therefore by implication also brain serotonin "may reflect MDMA neurotoxicity" in users. The supposed toxicity was greater in women, which may have been due to them having higher concentrations through being smaller or using the drug more frequently.

2. The findings that MDMA users were less impulsive, more harm-avoidant, and have decreased indirect hostility supports the notion that these personality characteristics are modulated by serotonin.

158 Survey among therapists with experience of MDMA-assisted therapy by Dr. Debby Harlow (unpublished).

Shortly before MDMA was made illegal, Dr. Harlow conducted a survey among 17 therapists who were using the drug to assist in their work. Therapists were asked to assess the effect of MDMA as an adjunct to psychotherapy in a series of questions.

The effect of MDMA in treatment of various disorders. Therapists were asked to score on a 7-point scale from "severely worsen" to "improve greatly":


Overall psychological value. Based on their knowledge and experience, therapists were asked to assess the general psychological value of MDMA from no value to immense value. One replied "moderate value"; 8 "great value" and 7 "immense value".

General psychotherapeutic value. Therapists were asked to assess the general psychotherapeutic value of MDMA in clients they had observed from very positive to very negative; 16 replied "very positive" and one "positive".

Qualities and behaviours during session. Therapists were asked to what extent certain qualities and behaviours were modified during an MDMA-assisted session as compared to a non-MDMA session:


Qualities and behaviours long term. Therapists were asked to what extent certain qualities and behaviours were modified six months or longer after an MDMA-assisted session as compared to a non-MDMA session:


159 Raves threaten jobs in drinks trade, article in The Times, Oct 1993

"Jobs in traditional leisure industries are being jeopardised by the huge growth in 'raves', which have mushroomed into a #2 billion-a-year industry, according to new research. . .

More than one million young people attend raves per week, spending an average of #35 at each event. The parties tend to be alcohol-free but there is usually a heavy consumption of drugs. Raves have grown in popularity while the number of young people going to pubs has fallen by 11%. . .

To put this phenomenon in perspective, this figure is around the same size as the books or newspaper market and at least a quarter of the spirits market. . .

The #2 billion figure might underestimate the threat, as the survey covered only licensed raves. . .

They pose a significant threat to spending for sectors such as the licensed drinks retailers and drinks companies"

160 Dutch drug makers surrender bucketfuls of Eve from Reuters, 29/7/93

The drug was officially banned on July 27, but a 3-day grace period was granted to allow customers of a 'dial-a-drug' service to hand in their purchases. . . Producers had exploited a legal loophole by advertising door-to-door deliveries.

161 Meeting with Dr. Jerry Beck and Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, 3/11/93

Dr. Beck has submitted a grant application proposal for a study of the use of MDMA, LSD and other psychedelics. It will consist of 200 in-depth interviews with users to find out patterns of use and associated problems. He looks out for newspaper items on drug use and has an impressive collection of clippings. However, he has not managed to find reports of 'rave deaths' in spite of widespread use at parties and clubs in the States. Later, we were joined by Dr. Rosenbaum who had some definite views about the benefits and limitations of the use of MDMA. On referring to my questionnaire, she believed that the longer people had used MDMA the more likely they were to say that it had not changed them, implying that the changes people feel are based on their initial enthusiasm and are short lived. She was doubtful about the E state being one of openness and honesty - the first time someone takes the drug they may "spill the beans", but experienced users can keep secrets, avoid hurting others and even lie. In couple therapy, her experience is that MDMA is more useful for making a split than for resolving problems. The best use, she believes, is in conflict resolution. Besides couples, this particularly applies to siblings who always carry "a lot of shit" from childhood. The trouble with using MDMA to solve problems is that it is too enjoyable - when having a good time, why concentrate on problems?

From Jerry's files: The last Pharmchem report was in 1985 (it has since ceased to test drugs sent in) and the results for drugs described as MDMA were: 52% MDMA; 19% MDA, MDEA or similar; 24% another drug and 5% no active component.

162 Killer paracetamol, Sunday Times 14/11/93

More than 500 deaths a year are associated with the drug, and as many as 40,000 people suffer serious overdoses. In a study of 54,000 emergency cases, 167 were due to paracetamol poisoning compared with 129 due to heroin overdoses. A study in Leeds last year found that the cost of treating 316 paracetamol overdose patients cost #750,000.

163 The Complete Book of Ecstacy by U.P. Yourspigs from Synthesis Books, PO Box 610341, Birmingham, Al. 35261, USA

This is a 36-page book devoted to the manufacture of MDMA (and MDEA). Four methods are given: chlorosafrole, bromasafrole, piperonyl acetone and sodium cyanoborohydride, piperonyl acetone and aluminium amalgamate. An accompanying letter says: "I am working on a second edition which will include more methods with greater detail. Methods that are well suited to the clandestine chemist." An illicit manufacturer, who had not seen the book before, told me that it was not as complete as implied and not as good as Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture [ref 189]. However, there were some details and alternative routes that may come in useful.

164 The Independent May 1993 and 3/3/94; The Guardian 14/5/94

In March 1994 The Independent published a series of articles about illicit drug use, all non-alarmist. Emphasised was that the trade is worth some billions of pounds a year, that a third or more crime is drug-related, that current users they tend to be middle class and do not fit the junkie image, that enforcement policies do not work and that change is necessary.

The leading article was headed "Let's crack the drug economy". It claims that the present policy is responsible for increasing violent crime without reducing drug usage. It is bound to continue to fail. The answer is decriminalisation. Cannabis should be treated in the same way as alcohol. There is no logical argument for discriminating between the two. Opiate addicts should be registered and supplied at low price. No mention is made of hallucinogens and Ecstasy.

In May 1993, the leading article argues for illegal drugs to be licensed. "The parallel with the prohibition of alcohol in the US in the twenties and thirties is exact. Slavery apart, no greater mistake was ever made in America's social history. . . If cigarettes were declared illegal, the story would be the same: soaring prices, pushers at street corners, addicts stealing to feed their habit and so on." Commander John Grieve, head of criminal intelligence at the Metropolitan Police called on the government to examine whether the supply and use of illegal drugs could be licensed. "This newspaper, along with The Economist and other publications, has long advocated the progressive legalisation of drugs."

The Guardian on 14/5/94 quoted Commander John Grieve as saying that licensing for illegal drugs including Ecstasy should be explored, perhaps on the basis of licensed cafes in Amsterdam. "Either we go to war with drugs dealers across the globe, or we have to come up with new options." About half the members of a working group of senior drugs detectives supported this view.

165 Letter from Clive 14/2/94

Clive is a part-time dealer in California who attends public events where E is used. Raves in SF started in 1991 and were additional to existing E users. Among cocaine users, use of E is a well-known way to get off coke as it seems to satisfy many of the urges to party in a coke kind of way. Then there's underground psychotherapists, plain ordinary recreational drug users, bonding couples who will "keep a small supply to torque the intimacy now and then." 'Rave' has a juvenile/media sound compared to the more usual 'House Party'. Other ecstatic trance-dance parties under the 'underground dance scene' heading includes the no-obvious-alcohol-or-drugs 'barefoot boogie', 'dance spirit' and 'dance jam' to Grateful Dead concerts; parties where people play worldbeat, Turkish trance, drumming, and 'urban-primitive trance dance experiences' where they play Gabrielle Roth's recordings designed to accompany her workshops such as 'Initiation', 'Bones', and 'Totem'.

At these functions, besides the weekend influx of suburban kids who don't much identify with this culture, there is 1) The street faction, well connected with drugs in general, familiar with being on the threatened/criminalised edge of society and being up all night, mixing with the 2) Computer people/Nerds who have the money and great desire for X, but are often not connected nor comfortable with the illegality vibe or sketchiness of those they have to deal with. "These types really love me".

Every now and then people say the scene is dying, but the house parties are still happening, still going, and don't seem to be changing much. One institution in the rave scene is the Full Moon Party which has been going on monthly since the beginning of it all 3 years ago and continues strong. It never has flyers, its always free and usually at a beach. This event is in many ways the soul of the scene as it was imported from England, and retains the DJs who are among the most popular.

After a dry fall and spotty summer, supply of good X is now plentiful and of good quality, and the parties are well fuelled.

"I went into the chill room to discuss something with a friend. Gradually I noticed a girl, semi-prone beside me, was moving her hand up my leg. She was also being massaged by someone else. She had shorts. I immediately went for her legs, and it gradually turned into a nonverbal multi-peopled sensual groping, squeezing, massaging, hugging kind of thing. Nearly all strangers to me. I thought (not too much) isn't it great to feel free to do something like this. This is the therapeutic aspect of these events which needs to be more fully recognised as such. Medicines and therapy for the ills begot by egoic barriers and repressive social conventions. This sort of spontaneous, sensuous body contact is, in my mind, the sign of a good X party. In Marin we call them puppy piles. I've seen flyers with special rooms set aside for this aspect of the X experience called 'feely feely' rooms or 'petting zoo'. I've also heard it called 'snake slithering'. Whether or not a special room is put aside, ambient or chill rooms serve the same purpose."

166 The Nature of the MDMA Experience by Ralph Metzner and Sophia Adamson in ReVision, Spring 1988

Psychedelics are nonspecific psychic amplifiers; i.e. the focus of the experience depends on the set and setting. In addition, MDMA produces predictable feelings including empathy, openness, peace and caring. With the right intention, individuals are able to use the MDMA state to resolve long-standing intrapsychic conflicts or interpersonal problems in relationships. "One therapist has estimated that in 5 hours of an Adam session, clients could activate and process psychic material that would normally require five months of weekly therapy sessions."

The state can be described as one of release from emotional identification patterns. This provides a preview or taste of the possibilities that exist for greater emotional openness, and the ability to deal with issues that are normally avoided due to anxiety. Psychotherapists using MDMA frequently gain insight into their clients' problems.

MDMA therapy may access memories blocked out by repression such as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the result of traumatic experiences such as rape and the result of war and torture. No other form of therapy is so effective.

The fundamental experience is an opening of the heart centre. A meditation teacher described the state as dissolving barriers between body, mind, and spirit - "one senses the presence of spirit infusing the body. . ."

The name 'Adam' for MDMA is related to the innocent man as in the Garden of Eden - "being returned to the natural state of innocence before guilt, shame and unworthiness arose."

Various practices may be greatly facilitated and the effects amplified including meditation, yoga, guided imagery, psychosynthesis, shamanic journey work and rebirthing. This is best done on low doses (50-100 mg) or towards the latter half of a session. The detached yet compassionate attitude required for meditation is easy to attain, providing the foundation for deeper states - even though it may be difficult to hold a strict posture.

Massage benefits can be amplified using low doses. For the masseur, the drug helps tune in to the client; while the recipient's ultra relaxed state allows for much greater appreciation.

Group work. Two basic approaches. Each individual silently explores inwardly, sharing only with guides, though both before and afterwards there is considerable sharing. Guided imagery may sometimes be used. The other is to share during the session in a ritual fashion. The group may sit in a circle or lie with heads to the centre in star pattern. All are silent and attentive except the one with the 'talking stick' who talks or sings from the heart. "The combination of channelling powerful inner experiences and the contemplative attention of the group is a powerful force." Members may be silent during their turn, simply sharing a meditation. Confidentiality and no sexual behaviour is agreed.

Other group rituals have been adapted from shamanic tribal cultures. These include finding a 'power spot' and meditating there is silence; putting ritual objects in the middle of a circle and 'charging' them; offering prayers to the nature spirits, ancestors and allies. Group rebirthing and tai chi may also be incorporated. All these are best done on low doses by people used to MDMA; otherwise they may have difficulty following instructions.

167 Interview with illicit manufacturers of MDMA, 2/94

Three people who were psychedelic explorers themselves and enthusiastic about MDMA in particular decided to try to manufacture some. They spent about 3 years planning - reading up syntheses; finding equipment and buying materials. None had any previous laboratory experience apart from school chemistry, nor had they any connections with others making illicit drugs. Obtaining equipment without arousing suspicion was difficult. They found that laboratory suppliers would not sell anything more complex than a thermometer for cash over the counter, and asked them to open an account. This was tricky, as it required bank and trade references which would identify them, and they also found banks unwilling to open a new business account without details of who they were and the precise nature of their intended business. They were well aware that suppliers of equipment and precursors are asked to inform the police of any suspicious purchases.

They then looked for existing companies who had accounts with suppliers, and tried to make contacts so that orders could be placed and passed on to them. Approaching these people was risky in itself in case any should inform the police or blackmail them, and there was always the risk that suppliers would notify the police that these customers were ordering precursors for the first time. In addition, these 'middle men' would double the price. However, they found some pieces of equipment in theatre prop shops and even car boot sales. As syntheses were based on laboratory rather than production techniques, nearly all the equipment was glassware. This meant there were a lot of breakages which sometimes held up production for ages while replacements were sought.

Methods of manufacture were worked out from studying everything they could get hold of including chemistry textbooks; PIHKAL by Alexander Shulgin [reference 2]; Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture [189] and some patents from the Patent Office. They say that none of these were complete on their own and that every new description added valuable new information. Precursor materials were just as hard to get. Even solvents were not available without question, and some ingredients required a poisons license. In the end, they had to make many of the precursors themselves. Key precursors, such as safrole, had to be bought from black market sources at very high prices. Indian suppliers were the most likely to accept cash and ask no questions. In the end they managed to obtain or make everything they needed within Britain. In all they spent some #4,000.

Having obtained the equipment required, they looked for a suitable site to set up their factory. It had to have water, gas supply and ventilation besides being somewhere discreet where neighbours would not notice them bringing in equipment and materials, nor be alarmed by odd smells and sounds. Eventually they set up in a basement flat, with the plan to get the batch over and done with as quickly as possible.

At this stage it was all theory, so the first thing to do was to try out the various syntheses. This turned out to be much harder than expected - even following instructions to the letter, some reactions simply did not happen while others were so violent they that broke the apparatus. Recipes, including Shulgin's, appeared to have small but vital steps missing. It was only by reading several different instructions that they managed to overcome all problems, and they found that nearly every extra description of a synthesis contained more clues.

Over a period of two months continuous work they made two small trial batches to test the method before starting production. As enthusiasts rather than just in it for the money, they decided to go for the best quality by recrystallizing the end product to produce pure, white crystals. The process to manufacture one kilo of MDMA took about 2 weeks continuous work for three people because of the lack of ideal equipment - some processes could only be done in 50 gram batches and they had no fume cupboard. They used about 75 litres of solvents which they were unable to recondense, so all this was boiled off producing vast amounts of vapour. The fumes tended to be heavier than air and would fill up the basement, as they only had one small extractor fan - even that was a cause of worry as the fumes could be smelled miles away. At many points in the production there were toxic fumes, some highly poisonous, and many spillages. They worked in terrible conditions leaving them coughing and ill due to inhaling the fumes which caused giddiness and made their eyes smart, while working long hours and getting tired meant that accidents were frequent. They were worried about explosions which could be sparked off by motors such as on their vacuum pump. Sometimes they had to evacuate the basement and the fumes could be seen drifting out of windows. Once some ether exploded, and they rushed out into the garden where they tried to wash off poisonous chemicals with a hose pipe. They survived but one believes he damaged his lungs.

Selling was far more difficult than they expected. They wanted to find a single dealer to take all their product so as to avoid too many people knowing what they were doing, but only knew small time dealers. Eventually they found dealers who would buy by the ounce, but they were not prepared to pay a premium for their extra good quality product over the usual trade price of #40 per gram. They were afraid that dealers who could afford to buy in kilos would be connected to criminal sources, and that may mean being swindled or threatened with guns.

Although they sold the kilo without being caught, it was much harder than anticipated and involved far higher risks, with a worryingly large number of people into their secret. Although one of them found the danger exhilarating, it was sheer hell for the other and overall they concluded that it was not worthwhile.

They learned that they could overcome virtually any problem and produce a pure product, but such small scale production is not worthwhile. They reckon the risks would actually be lower on a larger scale because they would be able to pay someone else to obtain the equipment and materials and so reduce the number of people involved, also they would be able to pay for safer premises and better equipment. And they would be able to afford better security.

169 Manufacturers of MDMA in Switzerland

Chemische Forschung & Entwicklung, Im Latten Acker 5 8200 Schaffhausen, Switzerland tel. 053 25 72 72

170 Ecstasy by Nadia Solowij in Current Opinion in Psychiatry 6/3 1993

Review of papers to 1993. Makes the point that most fatalities in England were not among first time users, so it is likely that death was due to the conditions of use rather than individual susceptibility as has been suggested by Henry in Toxicity and Deaths from MDMA and Larner in a letter to The Lancet. In Australia the use of E at raves has been widespread without any reported problems. This may be due to variations in purity, ventilation, reporting or simply extent of use.

Direct attribution to MDMA in reported cases of psychiatric disturbance due to Ecstasy is questionable due to additional factors such as other drugs and previous vulnerability to psychiatric disturbance. However, two cases in Italy and one in South Africa imply that no other factors were involved. There may be particularly susceptible individuals.

"Large doses (acute or cumulative), history of psychiatric disturbance and preexisting disease appear to increase the likelihood of adverse effects."

171 Police to stop raves in The Guardian 25/2/94

Headline front page feature in early editions. "Police have launched an intelligence drive against New Age travellers and organisers of rave parties. . . Some forces have decided that 'raves will not happen, legal or otherwise.'" They aim to log 8,000 such people on computer including their nick names and vehicle numbers, and to deploy undercover police to mix with them. "Spiral Tribe, one of the largest groups organising rave parties, is the subject of particular attention." Police may ask fire safety officers to declare legal raves unsafe as an excuse to stop them. Another tactic being considered by police is obtaining blanket countryside injunctions against public events.

An organisation called The Advance Party is campaigning against provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill to extend laws against rave parties.

172 Ecstasy and Eve, leaflet by Lifeline

In spring 1993 thirteen tablets and capsules of Ecstasy were analysed for Lifeline. None contained more than tiny amount of MDMA. 4 were MDEA: Power packs, Triple Xs, Adam & Eves and White burgers/Saucers; 3 were MDA: 'Snowballs', 'MDMA Clear Caps' and 'White Caps'; 2 were decongestants: 'Love Hearts' and 'Splits'; 1 was antihistamine: 'White Cally' and 3 were Amphetamine and caffeine mixtures: 'California Sunrise', 'Green Burgers' and 'Red Devils'. The dosage of MDEA varied from 0.18 to 57 mg and MDA varied from 0.4 to 177.5 mg (Snowballs).

173 MDA and Snowballs, leaflet by Lifeline

Warning that 'Snowballs' were not MDMA but such strong MDA (177 mg). Most was sold as 'E'. MDA is twice as toxic as MDMA and effects women's genito-urinary tract. These were so strong (three would be close to the fatal dose) that many people overdosed on even one, especially women and smaller people. Overdose symptoms were extreme jaw clench, unable to move, feeling weighed down, having LSD-like trip, waves of paranoia, feeling overwhelmed. The drug is described as more speedy and coming on with more of a rush than MDMA.

174 Letter from Sheila Henderson, 26/2/94

The atmosphere [ie women feeling sexually safe and thereby more liberated at raves] has changed considerably. There are various reasons for this: alcohol has made a comeback, both used with and as an alternative to other drugs; the small chance of getting MDMA when buying 'E'; the wide range of drugs now available and mixtures consumed and other changes including the music.

175 Visit to The Fridge, a gay club in Brixton, 26/2/94

I was invited by a dealer who called herself Samantha to come on a tour of the gay clubs in London. With blond wig and false eyelashes, she could have been a transvestite, but assured me she was a woman. She has been selling E in gay clubs for about six months and has done very well, due, she believes, to giving a good deal. Having started by buying a few E's at a time from other dealers and selling in the same clubs, she has just reached the stage where she can buy in thousands (at #4.50 each rather than hundreds at #7.50 or handfuls at #10, and she also has two assistant 'runners' to cover other clubs. She always sells at #15. Although so well established and experienced, Samantha thought E was always mixture of LSD and other drugs.

Samantha explained that clubs need to have E easily available to develop a good atmosphere, so clubs have to allow dealers to operate and even encourage them. However, they also have to make a pretence at stopping drug dealing so their security staff would occasionally pounce on one who was new or they didn't like and throw him out having confiscated his money and E - which they discreetly sell back to the favoured dealers providing a bonus for the staff. Asked if dealers were ever arrested, she said that only happened if one got big enough to challenge established main dealers, who, she believed, who would set them up perhaps in cooperation with security and police, who would provide an undercover buyer. Asked if she had to pay off security to operate, she said she never had but other dealers had said they did. There were always a number of dealers in each club who knew each other and were supportive, helping each other out. Each had his own clients and sold on reputation. She was certainly welcomed and we were ushered in as honoured guests without queuing.

Nowadays Samantha doesn't mix business with pleasure; i.e. she finishes selling before taking E herself and dancing. This is a lesson learned the hard way: once she simply lost her entire stock but was having too much of a good time to care. On another occasion she stuffed a plastic bag full of E down between her breasts while dancing and sweated so profusely that the bag filled up and dissolved the pills into an unsaleable mush. To salvage it she added a bit of acid and speed (to make up for it being sweaty), bought some capsules of a proprietary brand medicine and replaced the contents with the mixture, then sold them as a 'new E just in'. They were so popular that she had people coming up to her for weeks afterwards asking for more!

The music at The Fridge was more pop than rave and the atmosphere was friendly, with perhaps a majority on E, though quite a lot were drinking beer and probably using other drugs too. The vibe was gentle but retained the sexual feelings of the gay pick-up scene - not the kind of atmosphere where the E magic takes over and people feel as one tribe. A lot of men took their tops off to show off their well built bodies, and one told me that he would often meet the same men as he saw in the gym earlier. Myself and my partner didn't feel awkward even though we were older and 'straight'. In fact, there were a lot of women there, and though some were gay others came because they liked to be able to have fun without predative men around. There was no chill out space, though there was a dark room upstairs for groping and sex - used by men who were looking for a sex partner but had decided to cut their losses, according to Samantha.

Afterwards we were invited to go onto Trade at Turnmills, open from 3.30 am until 11 am on Sundays. This she described as a chill out with techno music. The other main gay venue at present is Heaven on Saturday nights, and Turnmills on Sunday nights where they play light techno from 10.30 pm till 5 am Mondays.

176 Mapping Toxicant-Induced Nervous System Damage with a Cupric Silver Stain: A Quantitative Analysis of Neural Degeneration Induced by MDMA by Karl Jensen et al. 1993 in Assessing Neurotoxicity of Drugs of Abuse, NIDA monograph 136:133-149

This paper demonstrates the value of the cupric silver staining technique in determining the location and extent of brain damage caused by high doses of MDMA, and suggests that damage is not restricted to serotonergic neurons. It also suggests that the use of fluoxetine ('Prozac') reduces toxicity.

Rats were given 4 doses of MDMA at 12-hourly intervals. Doses varied from 25 to 150 mg/kg. The brains were then frozen, sectioned, silver stained and examined. The staining showed up where damage was caused, which was to particular parts of the brain.

Fluoxetine at 5 mg/kg did not produce staining on its own When given 30 minutes before MDMA, fluoxetine reduced by about half the volume of tissue stained "and dramatically reduced the intensity of staining throughout the affected regions".

Another substance, MK-801 at 1 mg/kg, "virtually eliminated evidence of MDMA-induced silver staining".

Interpretation is to some extent subjective, and the authors are developing an automated process for objectively determining the intensity and volume of staining.

177 Metabolic and Thermoregulatory Responses of the Rat maintained in acrylic or wire screen cages: Implications for Pharmacological Studies by Christopher Gordon in press Physiology and Behaviour 1994

Laboratory rats are normally kept in either plastic or metal cages. The two types differ greatly in the way rats are able to dissipate heat. With all other factors identical when given MDMA, Aluminium floors enabled rats to regulate their core temperature when they were unable to do so on acrylic floors. This is explained by conductive heat transfer between rat and floor.

This paper may imply that past research results on MDMA toxicity (and other trials) depends on the type of cages used.

178 Metabolism of 'ecstasy' by CYP2D6) by Tucker et al. published in abstract form in Br. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 36:144P, 1993

This paper suggests that about 8% of Caucasians are genetically deficient in a particular enzyme which helps metabolize MDMA, and that such individuals may be particularly sensitive to its effects and "at increased risk of acute toxicity". However, these same people "may be less susceptible to the chronic neurological effects of the drug".

[I asked two senior American researchers for their opinions on the paper. One commented "I think he has a point". The other said "It is a nice study in terms of showing a pathway of MDMA metabolism that can be applied to the human condition. Unfortunately, we cannot predict whether 'poor metabolizers' will be more (or less) susceptible to acute toxic (i.e. predominantly hyperthermia) much less the chronic neurological effects ('neurotoxicity'), because we do not yet know which metabolites are responsible for the acute and/or neurochemical (neurological) effects of the compound. Tucker et al. allude to this in the final paragraph. The data do show, however, that genetic differences in metabolism or MDMA may be responsible for differences in the response to the drug (toxic or therapeutic effects].

179 National Audit of Drug Misuse in Britain by the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence 1992

Various statistics and regional surveys.

Graph shows that among school children in West Yorkshire, while solvents are most popular among younger kids, by the age of 17 Ecstasy comes second to cannabis closely followed by LSD.

Seizures by customs 1987-91. Number of doses of MDMA same as LSD by 1991. Increase in use of various drugs between 1990 and 1992 shows Ecstasy 650%, cocaine 200%, amphetamines 150%, hallucinogens 120% while heroin is slightly less.

Seizures by police 1987-91. In 1991, number of seizures of MDMA similar to LSD at 1500, but number of doses 274,000 MDMA compared to 83,000 LSD.

180 Ecstasy' ingestion: a case report of severe complications in J. Royal Soc. Medicine April 1993

A man consumed MDMA and Amphetamine. Though both were below toxic levels in blood, the combined level of .3 mg/kg was above toxic threshold of .2 mg/kg.

"The treatment of MDMA-related morbidity should be early and aggressive and includes: gastric lavage, chlorpromazine, adrenergic blockade, intravenous fluids and passive cooling". An afternote says "The National Poisons Information Service now advocates the early use of dantrolene in the management of severe complications following Ecstasy. Chlorpromazine may lower the convulsive threshold and is no longer advised."

181 Young People in 1992 by John Balding, University of Exeter

Questions were asked to a representative sample of over 20,000 11-15 year olds. Asked which drugs were "always unsafe", 14-15 year olds put Ecstasy in fourth place after Solvents, Heroin and Cocaine.

Asked which drugs they had ever been offered, Ecstasy came second only to cannabis (above solvents) among 13-14 and 14-15 year olds. Ecstasy came third just below solvents among 11-12 year olds. The highest figure was 15% among 14-15 year old girls.

Asked which drugs they had ever taken, Ecstasy came fifth at 4.2% below cannabis, solvents, natural and synthetic hallucinogens (Mushrooms and LSD?).

Asked if they know anyone who takes particular drugs, Ecstasy came second to cannabis in all age groups, above solvents and amphetamines.

182 The Ecstasy Study by Lifeline, 1993 published as part of Sheila Henderson's Final Report [see reference 41]

98 Ecstasy users between 16 and 31 in the Manchester area completed a questionnaire between August 92 and January 93. 93% had first tried Ecstasy in a rave setting. 87% of users paid between #10 and #15 per dose. Women composed 65%: more took half doses than men and they were more likely to try Ecstasy at a younger age.

Asked about frequency of enjoyment, 52% replied most times, 25% said every time and 18% said not as much as they used to. While the same proportion of men to women replied most times, more men than women said they enjoyed it every time. Half took one tablet per night; a quarter took 1-2 and 18% took half.

Asked what they liked about Ecstasy, two thirds replied in terms of 'happiness, joy, elation or euthoria' followed by 'energy', 'dancing', 'relaxation/release', 'group feeling', 'confidence' and 'escape'. Asked about worst effects just after use, 37% were physical and 40% psychological. During use, 17% said physical and 21% psychological. Asked about use of other drugs, 61% smoked tobacco daily, 52% drank alcohol weekly (16% daily), 40% smoked cannabis frequently, 40% amphetamine weekly. In addition, occasional use of other drugs included: 52% LSD, 9% cocaine, 4% magic mushrooms, 3% heroin or other opiates, 3% amyl nitrate and 3% ketamine. 94% of those who first tried Ecstasy at age 18-19 years still take it; 76% also smoke tobacco and 42% smoke cannabis daily. Of these, a third take E a few times each month and a third weekly. Though tobacco, cannabis and cocaine were more popular among women than men, more men than women used magic mushrooms and ketamine (also male were the only two who used heroin).

Asked about the future use of Ecstasy, 56% said it was here to stay in their own lives, while 70% said it was here to stay for young people generally.

183 Turn on, Log in, Reach out, leaflet advertising SFRAVES

Leaflet offers a subscription service to a database on Internet covering raves which includes a weekly event list, "a comprehensive guide to clubs and events".

"Simply send a message to the Internet address: and within a day or so you will receive a welcome message and all other SFRaves communications." Users can also take part in URave, "a round the clock, real time on line international virtual rave."

184 Reinforcing Subjective Effects of MDMA May be Separable from its Neurotoxic Actions by McCann and Ricaurte, J. Clinical Psychopharmacology 6/1993

Subjective trials show that the psychoactive effects of MDMA are not affected by taking fluoxetine first. Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors block MDMA neurotoxicity. Since fluoxetine is a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, this implies that the desired effect of MDMA may be enjoyed without its neurotoxic effects.

Three were experienced MDMA users who took 20 mg fluoxetine 40-60 minutes before large doses of MDMA, 300-450 mg including booster doses. The sense of euphoria and closeness was unaffected. There was a greater sense of calmness but less increase in energy. Side effects normally felt such as jaw clench were less than normal, though nausea was worse. Two found it easier to sleep afterwards. Next-day fatigue was considerably less than normal, even for the one who found sleep as difficult as usual.

The fourth was a woman who had been taking 20 mg fluoxetine for the previous 10 days. It was her first MDMA experience and her description of it was typical, implying that fluoxetine did not effect it.

The paper concludes that these cases "argue against the view that serotonin release is the basis for MDMA's psychoactive action", since this is prevented by pre-treatment with fluoxetine. This is supported by the fact that drugs such as fenfluramine do not produce similar psychoactive effects to MDMA.

185 Effects of [MDMA] on acoustic and tactile startle reflexes in rats by Kehne et al. in. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1/1992

Startle response to noise and touch was increased by MDMA in proportion to the dose given. This was prevented by fluoxetine.

186 MDMA-induced dopamine release: effect of dopamine uptake inhibitors by Nash and Brodkin in J Pharmacol Exp Ther 11/1991

MDMA increased the extra-cellular concentration of dopamine, but this was reduced when fluoxetine was given 30 minutes beforehand. Results also showed that MDMA increases the concentration of dopamine in the striatum via a mechanism independent of its effects on serotonin release.

187 Phone call from Clive 5/3/94

Clive is an actor and also part time DJ, living in London. He is interested in the arts and the effect of MDMA on both performance and perception. Clive and friends have put on several private events at which MDMA is taken by everyone present, performers and audience alike. The performances are multi media and allowed to develop spontaneously, and the results have been spectacular. The artistic experience becomes almost religious. He says that most great art comes after de-constructing and allowing oneself to flow, and that this is allowed by MDMA.

However, not everything can be done on MDMA, in particular the preparation. The idea is to get everything ready so that you can really let go when on MDMA. For music, he does the programming of the equipment beforehand.

188 Phone call from Graham 5/3/94

Graham is an American in his sixties who has been using MDMA for over 12 years. Originally, he was part of a communal group who routinely took Ecstasy together, but though the closeness and intimacy at the time was wonderful, they decided from experience that it was inappropriate to be so intimate with everyone in the wider group, and now they keep to couples or family groups. He says their living situation is that of about 100 people consisting of several extended households living as close neighbours and friends, along with children and grandchildren. There have been no divorces; all the couples involved have stayed together.

Since he started taking MDMA regularly at the age of 50, he has 'rehabilitated' himself both physically and emotionally. He used to be a pushy casino owner without social conscience or morals who thought the world was a jungle. Now he meditates, has not raised anger for the past eight years and is vegetarian. He still uses MDMA twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. He now uses large doses up to 400 mg as he has become tolerant, and is aware of other personalities inhabiting his body. He believes that his frequent use of MDMA has not only transformed his life but seems to channel chance in his favour - things have happened to him against odds of millions to one.

Graham asked me not to identify which animal species is involved, but told me about his involvement in racing. He has been involved in breeding animals for racing, and they are so highly strung that they sometimes get illnesses related to stress. A few years ago, with an animal in a critical state before and the vet not able to come straight away, he administered some MDMA and witnessed a miracle cure. Since then he has used it with a variety of animals from horses to birds. For instance, when he has found a wild bird with a broken bone, in the past he would set the bone but the bird would still die of fear, but given a 'couple of drops' of MDMA it would relax and survive.

He has also heard of horses being given MDMA before races, which he says helps them to overcome the shock of competition.

He had heard of athletes using MDMA as part of their training routine, but thinks it would not be useful otherwise.

His family has no medical insurance and have never needed a doctor. He believes this is due to their regular use of MDMA which he sees as a tonic, giving relief from flu and helping in almost every situation. He has even given it to one year olds 'in desperation'.

189 Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture, $24 from Loompanics and Books by Phone.

According to an illicit manufacturer on MDMA, the third edition of this is the most useful guide to manufacture. As of March 1994, the third edition of this guide is being sold by Loompanics while the earlier edition (which I am told is not so good) is being sold by Books by Phone. Recipients of books from Loompanics have received them marked 'opened by customs', while the Books by Phone packets, which are clearly labelled 'Books' have never appeared opened.

190 Effect of MDMA on sexual behaviour of male rats by Dornan et al. in Pharmacol Biochem Behav July 1991

Sexual activity was suppressed in most animals while on MDMA, but returned to normal after a week "despite a marked depletion of 5HT content in the striatum and hippocampus". In addition, rats who did copulate on MDMA, "ejaculation latency and postejaculatory interval were dramatically lengthened".

191 Effects of MDMA on sleep by Allen et al. in Sleep September 1993

23 MDMA users were compared to matched non users. MDMA users averaged 19 minutes less sleep and 23 minutes less non-REM [non rapid eye movement] sleep than controls. The reduction was due to an average of 37 minutes less stage 2 sleep, with no significant reduction in stages 1, 3 or 4 stages.

192 Illicit psychostimulant use in Australia by Dave Burrows et al. monograph, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1993

Use of MDMA in Australia seems to be limited to a small group at events such as raves. Prevalence is estimated to be between that of amphetamine and cocaine.

In a section entitled Pharmacologic Interventions, various drugs are discussed. L-Tyrosine and L-Tryptophan have been "postulated to promote bio-synthesis and thus to restore neurotransmitter function. Their use in open trials has produced unclear results. No controlled studies document their effectiveness."

193 Amphetamine Use among Young Adults in Sydney by Julie Hando and Wayne Hall, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, 1993

Study based on 231 in-depth interviews with amphetamine users between October 1991 and October 1992. Two thirds were male, average age was 24, all lived in Sydney with 39% in the inner city. 5% were aboriginals. 57% were unemployed. 58% had tried MDMA of which 24% had injected it. MDMA was not the drug of choice for any of the sample, and came 9th in popularity just below cocaine.

194 Letter from myself in New Scientist, 18/12/93


Susan Katz Miller's article entitled How Ecstasy blows your mind (20 November) reports on the results of American research that, she says "may be evidence of the 'neurotoxic potential' of the drug".

She then goes on to report that, "In personality tests, the team found that the group who took Ecstasy were less impulsive and hostile, and showed greater constraint and control". However, she doubts that these characteristics were caused by their use of Ecstasy, quoting an American psychiatrist's view that "people who gravitate to this drug are often less hostile".

However, there is evidence to indicate that Ecstasy modifies user's behaviour in this way. An ethnographic survey by Mark Gilman, a researcher for the Manchester drug agency Lifeline studying a group of football supporters, showed that when they switched from alcohol to Ecstasy they gave up fighting. Simultaneously, statistics confirmed that the number of fans arrested and ejected from grounds fell to their lowest level for five years.

An interesting aspect of the American research not mentioned in your article is that peaceful behaviour was associated with lowered serotonin levels, contrary to general belief. This supports the findings mentioned in your article Does the aggressive gene lurk in a Dutch family? (This Week, 30th October 93) which links aggressive behaviour with high levels of serotonin.

When the World Health Organisation expert committee recommended that member countries of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances outlaw MDMA (Ecstasy) in 1985, they were sufficiently impressed by anecdotal evidence of its potential benefits to issue a directive urging member countries "to facilitate research on this interesting substance" under the provisions of Article 7.

As Britain is a world leader in Ecstasy consumption per capita, isn't it time that some serious research was carried out in this country?

Nicholas Saunders

195 Independent 7/3/94

A home office study by Prof. Alan Maynard et al. states that customs rarely achieved the 10% seizures of drugs consistently claimed, and that in fact the figure since 1985 has fallen from 1% to 0.3% in the case of heroin.

196 Letter from Fiona Measham, 2/94

Ms. Measham's research involves keeping track of a cohort of young people, now 16-17 years old (described in reference 49). She attends hard-core jungle clubs in the Midlands about once a fortnight including The Edge in Coventry and Institute and Q club in Birmingham, the latter being in a converted church holding 3,000.

"Regarding trends, the jungle scene is vibrant and buzzing at the moment, as evident by the opening of large new clubs. Last year people spoke to me of their personal experiences of 'snidey Es' leading them to choose other dance drugs instead, in particular LSD and speed. More recently, it seems that improved quality has led some to move back to Ecstasy as the preferred dance drug. Now, however, a lot of people are sticking to brands they know and trust, especially 'Doves', rather than the previous trend for wanting to try the latest E on the market.

"A small but growing number are using cocaine, which is increasingly available and at a lower price. Male friends say they quite often get offered a snort in the toilets at venues. . . There is also a race dimension, with young black men in Wolverhampton more likely to be doing speed, cocaine (crack and coke), cannabis and alcohol in various mixtures rather than E which is definitely still the first choice for young white men."

197 Letter from Kellie Sherlock, 3/94

Ms. Sherlock is conducting four research projects which concern the use of Ecstasy at the Department of Psychology, University of Leeds.

"My first study is a wide scale questionnaire examining various determinants of drug use. The main body of the questionnaire encompasses questions to do with; demographics, consumption variables, knowledge about drugs, as well as attitudes and beliefs about drug use." These survey forms have been distributed to 6,000 16-25 year olds. She hopes to follow up some of the respondents after a year to assess changes in answers.

"My second study is a series of semi-structured in depth interviews with young women drug users. In this I hope to gain some more qualitative data to supplement the quantitative data acquired in the questionnaire. I am interested in reasons for; starting, continuing and cessation of use, positive aspects of use and health related aspects of usage." Results will be analysed in two ways: first a very simple content analysis; the second according to the Leeds Attritional Coding System which relies heavily on Attribution Theory. Again, it is hoped to do a 12-month follow up. "I would like to administer a scale such as the Brown and Harris Events scale to see what role life events play in drug use."

The third study is a Behavioural Validation Study consisting of two components: a group testing of 40 subjects and a longitudinal study of 10 of these. "This involves the subject giving a sample of urine after taking an Ecstasy tablet and then completing a detailed questionnaire about the effects, what other drugs they have taken etc." There will be an attempt to match behavioural effects with the drugs found in the urine.

"My fourth study is still very much in the planning stages. I am hoping to work in conjunction with Dr. John Blundell from this dept. who did some preliminary work with Dr. McCann and Ricaurte on Ecstasy, eating and serotonin levels. We are hoping to conduct something similar on eating behaviours, probably in questionnaire format."

198 Session with therapy group using Ecstasy, 3.94

A reader invited me to attend a 'journey', an event which he and a few friends made fortnightly on Ecstasy. Without having met any of them, I turned up at an address in North London one Saturday afternoon.

The participants were old friends in their thirties who had previously been involved in rebirthing. They felt that spiritual paths were often a distraction from coming to know and change oneself. They believed that releasing their internal anger and other negative emotions would result in being able to let these go.

The session started by each person (including myself) taking the 'medicine' in a cosy room with lots of candles and a coal fire. Some took a whole tablet, others three-quarters.

When the drug came on, one member of the group started to talk about the knot he felt in his belly, and the rest of us focused our attention on him, encouraging him to feel it and interpret it. When he seemed to exhaust this route, someone else would take over the central role. Some would talk and reveal their secrets, others would 'regress' and describe situations they believed were from a previous life. One particular member took on the role of interpreting what was going on, and the others seemed to accept his 'insights'. For instance, he might say that someone was angry and that person would reply "I don't feel angry" to which he would suggest that this was because they were suppressing anger.

The atmosphere was intense without fun. I found myself identifying intensely with the pain being expressed, but this was exhausting and too much to take after the first couple of hours. I then became more detached and observed, with growing doubts that the process was really therapeutic and about their implied belief that there is "no gain without pain". At the end of the session we all shared a meal, and they considered it an important 'journey'. They planned to meet a couple of days later to go over it. I learned that they met at least once a week in addition to these fortnightly 'journeys'.

199 Attitudes and Ecstasy Use by Mark Conner and Kellie Sherlock, University of Leeds. Paper presented at a conference in Lisbon September 1993.

Anonymous questionnaires were used to study the extent and associated beliefs of a varied sample of 186 students aged 19-25 in the north of England.

Over half had tried Ecstasy, and the majority of these had taken it over 15 times. It was found that light users only used ecstasy on special occasions, while heavy users took it regularly, mostly once or twice a month. Heavy users tended to take Ecstasy at clubs while light users tended to use it among friends at private parties. Users were significantly more likely to take other drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines and hallucinogens, though less likely to use alcohol.

Enjoyment was the universal motive for taking Ecstasy - none answered addiction, habit, experience or boredom. However, there was a marked difference between the perceived outcome of use among users and non-users. Non-users were far more likely to evaluate the effects of Ecstasy negatively, such as being feeling lethargic, having mood swings, more frequent use and feeling run down. There was a tendency for heavier users to perceive more positive and less negative outcomes of use, although even heavy users had only moderately positive attitudes.

200 Phone call from Andrew Thomson, 3/94

Thomson is involved in a research project on Ecstasy users, originally to find out if the use of Ecstasy may promote the spread of AIDS. He reported some findings that have emerged to date.

Back pain. During his 50 in-depth interviews, he has included questions about fluids consumed and lower back pain after use. Those who consume large amounts of nonalcoholic drinks do not have back pain, and people who normally have pain can prevent it by drinking water. He suspects that lower back pain is due to the effect of dehydration on the kidneys.

Menstruation. When women report stopped or irregular menstruation, he asks about their eating habits. As a result, he believes that menstruation is not effected by consumption of Ecstasy but by poor or irregular diet that often accompanies Ecstasy use.

Sex. Some people can get turned on sexually while on E, but the important point is that the mood that existed when taking E continues and becomes exaggerated - "just like alcohol". But Ecstasy does lower inhibitions to some degree. It also depends on the social context in the widest sense, including the atmosphere and expectancy of the situation where it is used. Quite apart from the use of Ecstasy, sexual arousal is common at clubs but not at raves. Some women described getting randy on E in clubs and one stopped taking it in clubs so as to keep in control.

201 London Programme, ITV 27/3/94

Boring programme but had commissioned a survey among school children. This showed that about 35% of schoolchildren have bought or been offered drugs in London area schools. Trends suggest that the majority of kids will have tried drugs before they leave school. Typical starting age for trying drugs is now 14 while 5 years ago it was 17-18. 41% of school users are 14 or under. Drug use is more prevalent at 'public' schools (ie private fee-paying schools).

202 Interview with a Benedictine monk, 2/4/90

Brother Bartholemew is a monk who has used Ecstasy about 25 times over the past 10 years as an aid to religious experience. Normally he has taken it alone, but has also done so among a small group of like-minded people. While using Ecstasy he has experienced a very deep comprehension of divine compassion. He has never lost the clarity of this insight and it remains as a reservoir upon which he can call. Another benefit of his use of Ecstasy has been that the experience of the divine presence comes to him effortlessly. The effect manifests in its elemental form in the breath, the breath of divine God. After the awakening he began to discover the validity of all other major religious experiences.

He believes the 'tool' of MDMA can be used on different levels - as a research tool or as a spiritual tool. When used appropriately it is almost sacramental. It has the capacity to put one on the right path to divine union with the emphasis on love, vertical love in the sense of ascending. However, this gain only happens when you are looking in the right direction. It should not be used unless one is really searching for God, and is not suitable for hedonists such as teenage ravers. The place where it is taken should be quiet and serene, and you should have a close emotional bond with the others in your company.

The experience has to be pursued under a certain amount of supervision because the influence of Ecstasy produces a tendency for attention to drift off. There is also a danger of squandering the experience by being trapped in euphoric feelings rather than reaching into a spiritual realm. However, although it can be invaluable, its use should not be necessary as the need for a drug negates freedom.

203 Interview with a rabbi at the West London Synagogue, 5/6/94

After a talk which touched on the need to prepare for death, I asked a question about the value of MDMA in terminal patients (referring to Charles Grob's study in LA). He replied that MDMA was valuable for the dying as much as at raves in that it allowed the feeling of oneness and seeing life from a new aspect. Prohibition is not the best way to deal with substances that can be used in ways that are as sacramental as communion wine. They may arouse feelings of awkwardness which may be uncomfortable but are essential for deeper understanding of our selves. However, there are other methods such as are described in a book called Mind Aerobics.

At the end, the rabbi beckoned me to come up onto the stage. He took me into a fire exit staircase, out of earshot of his entourage, and told me that he could not afford to undermine his project by publicly supporting the use of illegal drugs, but that he had my book (which he praised) and he believed that MDMA and other psychedelics cold be used to immense benefit. Not only for personal awareness, but also for the sake of Gaia or the cosmic wellbeing of the planet. He hinted that the MDMA experience was of the same quality and potential value as other mystical experiences, and suggested that priests should take the drug themselves both in order to understand young people and to see the validity of spiritual experiences produced by drugs. He referred Masro's conclusion concerning 'peak experiences' that taking drugs was like reaching the top of a mountain by cable car instead of the toil of climbing - it can be seen as cheating, but it gets you to the same place. He ended by giving me a big hug and encouraging me in my work.

204 Visit from a Zen monk and teacher

Bertrand is a Zen Buddhist monk and teacher of meditation in his early seventies. Formerly an artist, he had an awakening experience on Mescaline which made him re-evaluate life and to seek a spiritual path, and when he was 47 he took up Rinzai Zen with a strict Japanese master. Though he found the training extremely hard, he eventually became the abbot of a Zen monastery.

Bertrand has taken Ecstasy about 25 times over 10 years. He has generally used it on the second day of a five day meditation, and finds that the drug allows him to give his wholehearted attention without distraction. As a student, he also once used the drug when undertaking a Zen exercise called Koans - such as the classic: "to understand the sound of one hand clapping". The master would name the task which the student would have to contemplate and then return to demonstrate his comprehension of it; normally after a considerable time and very often being told to try again. On MDMA, Bertrand zipped through the Koans with impressive ease. He has also felt enlightened on two occasions, although he is wary of accepting this as the highest level. He also knows a Swiss Zen Buddhist who uses E, but never told his own master. He feels that the experience would be of great value to some of his devout but stiff fellow Zen monks, although he knows only one other Zen monk who uses Ecstasy.

Asked whether the E experience was of equal value to 'getting there the hard way', he replied that MDMA simply allowed one to focus wholeheartedly on the task in hand, and that the result was in every way as real because it was the same. In fact, MDMA allowed him to go further than he was able to without it.

I pressed him to find negative aspects, and he told me that he once made the mistake of taking E just before leading a meditation. This opened his eyes to how strained and needy his students were. He expressed what he felt too freely: that they looked like corpses, all lined up in their black tunics! This was inappropriate and he did not use MDMA while teaching again. He felt his mistake lay in not respecting that his students were in a different space.

However, Bertrand believes that MDMA would be an extremely useful tool for teaching if the students were on it too. In fact he wondered if he would live long enough to be able to use it legally. Pressed for possible problems, he said that there were always people who came wanting to be given enlightenment on a plate, and that news of a new technique using a drug would attract those who expected it to 'do be done for them'.

The rave party was the first time Bertrand had taken E except while meditating, and he was surprised how different the experience was. Beforehand he said he could hardly stand the noise and volume, but after coming up said how he could see the value of the volume in drowning out distractions, and the monotonous beat was akin to American Indian ceremonies which also provide the feeling of tribal bonding by the use of a drug - although he felt the rave missed the Indians' cultural framework and focus. (Bertrand had been guest in an American Indian ritual, though without taking any drug.) He could see the value of his new experience to Buddhism as expansive - meditation was contractive, but both were essential.

His first reaction to coming up was sadness in his position as part of the establishment of a restrictive religion, and a realisation that the Zen training was not suitable for Westerners in its present form. Later, he got into the dancing and, as his face changed from severe to happy he exclaimed: "This is meditation - to be truly in the moment and not in your head". Next day, he said that he felt the experience had made an impression on his life and was not sure where it would take him. It had emphasised what he already knew: that his students were too contracted, and that the expansive experience of the rave was what they needed, and it was a pity that he could not advocate it in his position.

Next day he said this may be an important turning point in his life. He had to take time to digest what he had learned, but his immediate response was that he could not continue to be part of the establishment of his school in its present form. He could see that the contractive aspect of the training had been overemphasised in his school in the belief that Westerners were too expansive anyway, but in fact those who sought Zen masters in the West really needed the ability to be expansive - and the rave provided it.