The toxicology reports for the two deaths from this year’s Electric Zoo are not yet complete, but authorities are now fingering the drug methylone as the potential untimely killer of the young festival attendees. Methylone has a similar chemical structure to MDMA, but it also has a similar chemical structure to bath salts. Bath salts are outlawed in New York State, but methylone is not yet covered under that ban (even though it is classified as a Schedule 1 drug). Because MDMA and methylone both commonly come in crystal forms, it is near impossible to tell the difference between the two drugs by sight.
When the drug was highlighted in a recent Mixmag feature, the publication dug into just how common the MDMA substitute is in the United States. In March of this year, as The Miami Herald reported, seizures of methylone increased 16-fold from the previous year. The Miami police reported that in 2011, 190 of the 207 samples they tested were MDMA. In 2012, only one year later, of the 337 seizures they tested, only 59 of the samples were MDMA. 278 of the samples were methylone.
The answer to why methylone is more prevalent, as always, is found in the money. Again, as Mixmag highlighted in their June feature, a kilo of methylone costs somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000. A kilo of MDMA, on the other hand, will go for upwards of ten times that price in the United States. If a dealer can buy at methylone price and sell at MDMA price, the economic incentive is clear. For them, it’s even better that they can call a Chinese lab and order wholesale over the phone.
Even more dangerous is the drug PMA/PMMA, which on its own can be mistaken for a low dose of MDMA, but when pressed into pills with ecstasy, can trigger a chain reaction known as serotonin syndrome — causing a user’s brain to push itself into overdrive, including overheating and convulsions. In the UK, dozens of deaths have been linked to PMA or PMMA. It is inherently more toxic and has a much steeper “dose-response” curve, meaning two hits will hit you much faster than one. Since a come up on PMA/PMMA also may be slower, users may ingest more, thinking it is not yet working. Read more about the drug here.
Dancing Astronaut does not condone drug use but if you make the choice to participate in these activities, there is one surefire way of determining the chemicals you ingest. Buy and learn how to use a testing kit. DanceSafe sells them here.