Don't Panic, But There's Probably Meth in Your Ecstasy and De-Wormer In Your Cocaine

Categories: Crime

Ecstacy_monogram.jpg
Wikimedia Common
We hate to break it to you, but those pretty pills you bought off that guy in a toilet stall in the club might -- just might -- not be 100 percent pure.
What's in your drugs? Well, not your drugs, obviously, or ours, because we're law-abiding, tax-paying, speed-limit-driving good citizens, one and all. But as anyone who may have a purely academic interest in this sort of thing might like to know, street drugs are often very, very impure (shocker), and perhaps none more so than Ecstasy, according to a drug chemist we interviewed recently.

But why would we ask about Ecstasy in the first place? After all, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services' ludicrously out-of-date statistics, in 2006 about 25 percent of people who were admitted to state-funded treatment programs were there for alcohol addiction. Crack and amphetamines were the second and third most common drugs, but they lagged way, way behind. And only 41 people were admitted for hallucinogens, though it's also possible DSHS classed Ecstasy under "other drugs," which still accounted for just 360 of the roughly 55,000 admissions that year.

We got curious about Ecstasy, though, following a hearing earlier this year in which the city's Permit and License Appeal Board voted to shut down rave club Afterlife. In an often bizarre daylong hearing, officers from the Dallas Police Department's narcotics unit, wearing hoods to conceal their identities, testified that the club was, in the words of one officer, "an open-air, free-for-all drug-trading den."

"We were only there for three nights and observed numerous people consuming a drug I believe to be MDMA, [Ecstasy]" the officer said. "They were observed to be very euphoric and showed extreme perspiring." He described the scene as best he could: "Kids will do this little hand dance and all sorts of crazy motions," he said. "They were tranced out of their minds, with pupils as big as your thumbnail."

bounce kid.jpg
Is bouncy boy here high? Probably, but at least we doubt he has worms.
Club owner Mark Annis flatly denied allegations that he'd knowingly allowed drugs to be sold at the club. His attorney pointed out that he'd operated without incident, and with a dance hall license from the city, for six years. But the board still voted to uphold the license revocation initially issued by DPD, and Afterlife closed its doors almost immediately.

During the officers' testimony, some odd tidbits emerged: They went into the club with the intention of buying Ecstasy, which they said they did very easily, but when the drugs were analyzed in the lab, some of them weren't Ecstasy at all. They were so adulterated, the officers testified, that it was hard at times to tell just what they were. One officer said he'd been sold something that was "marketed as molly," meaning pure MDMA, but that an analysis revealed it wasn't even close. "Somebody in there sold me a substance that I have no idea what it is," he said.

We thought it was unlikely that the lab returned a report reading, "No idea what in the hell this could be," so we set out to find a chemist who could talk to us. And we did find one eventually, although this person spoke to us on the condition of absolute anonymity. There are several labs in the city that analyze drugs for different agencies; the chemist asked us not to identify the lab he or she works for, where it receives drugs from, or even the most basic personal identifying information.

The chemist said that the only thing that's predictable about Ecstasy, really, is how unpredictable it is. The percentage of actual MDMA versus other substances ranges widely from pill to pill. "Everything is sold as ecstasy," the chemist said. "You have no idea what you're putting in your mouth. It's crazy." And especially when compared to meth and cocaine, the chemist said, the purity of ecstasy is very low. "The pills we get are generally 5 to 10 percent pure," the chemist said. "Cocaine, it's pretty common for us to get 80 or 90 percent [purity]." A lot of times, the chemist said, something that's been sold as Ecstasy doesn't contain MDMA at all. "I would say maybe only 25 to 30 percent of what comes as Ecstasy is actually Ecstasy."

Other times, it's mixed with a whole lot of meth. "If I had to give my best estimate it would probably be around 15 to 20 percent" of cases in which Ecstasy pills or tabs contain meth, the chemist said. "It's not too common, but at the same time, it is never surprising or a shock when we get this." It is unlikely, though, that someone will buy a tab or a pill of X and get only meth instead, the chemist added. "When meth is present, the tablets usually contain a mixture of meth and MDMA. I've rarely seen just meth in Ecstasy tablets."

Ecstasy is also sometimes cut with caffeine. When combined with meth, the chemist said, that can create an increased likelihood of users overheating and dying. "Their body temperature gets to be 105, 106 degrees. The drug increases metabolism, body temperature, they're dancing at these raves, they start overheating and they literally die from that."

All that's not to say that meth is overtaking the Ecstasy market, the chemist said. "I definitely don't think there is more meth in X than there used to be. Since I've been here... the type of drugs in Ecstasy has changed, but the fact that Ecstasy contains many more drugs than just MDMA has remained pretty constant. Basically, since I've worked here Ecstasy has always been incredibly unpredictable in content."

It's also common these days to see other designer drugs from Europe and Australia being sold as Ecstasy, the chemist said. "They may not have any MDMA in them at all. Instead, it's some other -- or a mixture of -- a drug or drugs. To my knowledge, all of these other drugs have similar effects to MDMA, which is why they are being used. They could be cheaper, easier to make and in some states legal -- all good reasons to substitute these for MDMA." Don't get too excited, though: Under the Analog Act, Texas drug enthusiasts can still be prosecuted for using something that's not in itself illegal, if it's an analog of a controlled substance.

During the Afterlife hearing, one narcotics officer testified that they targeted the club as part of "an ongoing investigation," saying, "This isn't the only aspect of the rave scene we're involved in." It wasn't clear if the officers believe that Ecstasy use is becoming a bigger problem in Dallas. (DPD and the city attorney's office didn't respond to our requests for comment.) But much of the testimony at the Afterlife hearing did suggest an urgent, growing issue. Empirically, the chemist said, that's really not the case. "From what I've seen, I really don't think Ecstasy use is increasing. It has probably always been around 5 percent of our cases." The X they get ranges from "really amateur-looking pills," crumbly ones with bad logo imprints, to sleek, professional-looking products. But they don't have much idea where the drugs are actually coming from. "It's what we call 'bathtub' chemistry," the chemist said, "So it's pretty easy to make at home."

The chemist added that cocaine users shouldn't necessarily rest secure (not that coked-up people rest much) in the knowledge that their drug is probably 80 or 90 percent pure. When analyzing cocaine, the lab often finds levamisole, a chemical that's been used to treat parasitic worm infestations in both animals and people. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, levamisole has been pulled from the U.S. market for use in humans because it can drastically deplete white blood cells. "We find this in a huge percentage of our cocaine cases, maybe about 75 percent," the chemist said. Less commonly, they'll find that cocaine has been cut with lidocaine, an anesthetic with a similar texture to cocaine (the lab doesn't pick up non-controlled adulterants like baby powder, baking soda, sugar or flour).

Meth, de-wormer and anesthetic aren't the greatest things to find on an ingredients list, though we do recognize that most committed doers-of-drugs probably won't be deterred. Nonetheless, for those of you wishing for a safer alternative, we leave you with a bit of advice from one of the narcotics officers at the Afterlife hearing. The officer was quizzed repeatedly by Mark Annis' defense attorney if the club itself was doing anything illegal by providing things like soft, furry couches, flashing lights and bounce houses.

"Simple possession of a bounce house I don't believe is a crime, sir," the officer replied.

There you have it, straight from the law: You don't have to be high to have a good time in a bounce house. Though surely it helps.


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48 comments
Furballmews
Furballmews

This is why I miss Dance Safe....know what your putting in your body, or it just might destroy you....

Ally Fiesta
Ally Fiesta

I for ONE an disappointed this version doesn't have a picture of Big Margie's bridge to the ghetto. That shit was hysterical. 

chinese boy
chinese boy

This is a section of a reply from China,I was thinking in the United States E is not pure,Sold in China, these are what?Sales in China are mostly black people,I'm not sure whether they sell pureI do not often take, but before taking it feel very good.Very comfortable.I feel the love.You know I am talking about ecstasy.On METH, I know not a lot.I heard that the body is very bad.But I would like to know the suction that is what it feels like.Some people are willing to tell me Well?

Guesto
Guesto

For the life of me, I can't tell the difference between the immediate effects of meth and mini-thins OTC.  Both will fuck you up if you use too much but meth in baby ecstasy tab is just a small pep to get your ass out of bed.

http://www.amazon.com/Mini-Thi...

Chinaglenn
Chinaglenn

Kids,

Smoke marijuana, smoke hashish, eat mushrooms and acid. Leave that other junk alone!

Bonnie Jae
Bonnie Jae

I just wanted to say that kids today should and not ever be called dumb mainly because they learn most of what they know from their parents, or I am sure your generation. I am pretty sure I have seen a few Woodstock movies and I would not consider dropping acid or taking mushrooms any safer then the next drug.  I would perhaps say that people who take drugs repetitively; dumb.  The only reason is because knowing the hazards and risks, why would someone want to risk their lives?? Experimenting is different because inquiring minds always want to know, but in all reality.. what is the difference between taking drugs on occasion or experimenting and being a drunk idiot and living in a black out when you drink? In my opinion, there isn't one.. so when you sit there and call people dumb, just remember, have another drink, infact maybe two... Now think; who is the dumb one here? I only say this because as we learned in High School if you drink more then twice a month, you have a drinking problem, well most, but not all, adults I know drink more then two nights a week even and well more then then they need to.As for the comment made about kids not getting "pure" drugs or know nothing of them. HELLO, Do we all look like Chem Tech's? Didn't think so, obviously if we could make drugs, they would be way better then they actually are, we all take them because they are available.But the most funny thing is, I know more older people outside of my generation who use drugs and drink on a daily basis, then people my own age. You just wouldn't know it because they are not looked upon like that in society today.

**Sorry if I wrote too much, never wrote on the internet before but I love this discussion**And again, this is purely my own personal opinion from my own personal life experiences, please don't take any offense!!

Byorgs9
Byorgs9

I'm surprised this article came out so recently. Even as far back as '05 I knew the X my friends bought was full of meth. Common sense, people. Don't do drugs. 

Sandman
Sandman

No Shit!!! Of course there is.  Thats what keeps you going all night long.  Did you just figure this out?

Douhoff78
Douhoff78

Daniel, I just wanted you to know I laughed out loud at your comment.......F**ing hilarious.

Hoodrat
Hoodrat

 You don't have to be high to have a good time in a bounce house. Though surely it helps."

 wow , thats profound if you really think about it .

Bring it to Denver Mark , we love u!!

Pseudonym
Pseudonym

Is DanceSafe still around?  They used to provide drug purity testing for the rave scene in San Francisco a decade or so ago, and would scrape a bit off your pill to test whether it was really X, meth, or a few other things.  It helped keep the  bad pills out of the scene, at least back when raves were under the freeway or in borrowed warehouses before it got gentrified into commercial clubs.  It was harder for them to operate in clubs, because the police interpreted their presence as evidence that the club was promoting drug use and could shut the club down.

MelissaFairchild
MelissaFairchild

What the fuck is wrong with all of you commenters? Even if you are joking about using, this isn't something to joke about. You are screwing up your body chemistry. It blows my mind that people are okay with the possibility of ruining their health for the rest of their lives for what?? A high? Clearly, you have a shitty life. I WISH I was healthy. I didn't do anything to my body and have multiple autoimmune disorders. This world is full of fucken up people.

CheeryBitch
CheeryBitch

Hold up... the DSHS can't be bothered to update drug info and stats, but they can go after cottage food bakers as if they were meth labs? Unreal.

Courtney Lynne
Courtney Lynne

Yeah, it can't be made in a bathtub. No one said it could be. The term "bathtub drug" is used loosely to refer to drugs that can easily be made at home - not necessarily in a bathtub.

Em
Em

This is what happens when theres tighter control on pre-cursors, you end up with pills way more dangerous than the ones you outlawed.MDMA on its own is a relatively safe drug, also it cannot be made in a bathtub, thats meth and only meth.We used to have awesome pills here in canada but the last ones i did were some Research Chemical that made me feel like i was gonna die, so i decided to quit.

Steve
Steve

I had a little "over/under" scenario in my head regarding the length of time/# of comments it would take before somebody talked about the "real" stuff "back in the day,"  you know, those "white pills with the pressed line center and little flecks...."

Looks like the Under took it.

Hobie
Hobie

If only we had a test bed in America for what happens before/during/after an intoxicant  is made illegal then legal again...

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

This is the reason why people are turning to prescription pills. We've already legalized drugs!

Murad Gas
Murad Gas

you guys are too late.. we all know ecstasy now is base in meth

DeathBreath
DeathBreath

I have a wonderful idea.  Dallas PD narcotics could actually sell fake Ecstasy to the patrons.  Then, you would not have anything to worry about.  

HEALTHY AS HELL
HEALTHY AS HELL

I just came to say that I love cocaine and I've never had worms, so I don't see a problem here.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Or we could just make the shit legal, ensure its purity and slap a 100% tax on it that would go entirely towards street repair (or John Wiley Price's legal defense fund).

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Kids today are dumb..when you have a generation who get high from drinking cough medicine, you know people will do anything.

Daniel
Daniel

I'm old enough to remember scoring the pharmaceutical stuff dozens upon dozens of times back before it was made illegal in July '85. I mean, pure? These kids today don't even know what it's supposed to feel like, the poor bastards.

X
X

"Parents can  find out what is in their kid's pills"

Think about that.. Really?

guest
guest

You are obviously very ignorant about drug usage in general. Do a little non-biased research about the "harms of drugs" and you'll find that most things you know about it are false. Good ole propaganda. Prescription drugs on the other hand, damn. Those are more "hardcore" than most "hardcore" drugs out there. Kind of funny in a very sad way...

Test
Test

 that's Karma man... although I don't wish you harm in any way, you're an idiot

Daniel
Daniel

Damn, now you tell me ...

Mervis
Mervis

This story gives me tired head. I'm going over to City of Ate to read about the latest cocktail innovations.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Yeah, like if there were a law that Prohibited it....

Courtney Lynne
Courtney Lynne

Nope, wouldn't work. Drug users are VERY quick to point out someone selling fakes and though it may work for a bit, they would constantly have to switch up who they send out to sell because after even a few nights, that person's reputation would be trashed for selling fakes.

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

This is everything I love about writing for the Internet. 

Guest
Guest

I'm generally for legalization, but most of this stuff wouldn't sell in a legal market and would go underground anyhow.  The pure stuff would be too expensive, so the bathtub chemists would still cook up their own batches of batteries and cough syrup to sell in the clubs. 

Bonnie Jae
Bonnie Jae

 Sorry but I don't think its the children that are dumb, they just take what is handed to them. Don't you remember being a experimental? Meth is everywhere you go and so is cough medicine, just like alcohol is there for the adults to escape reality.  And who do these children learn from? Their peers and their parents, so who are the dumb ones? Seems to me, the parents need better parenting skills and the kids need better friends.

Bittershite
Bittershite

I know a 70yr old that will talk of getting drunk on gasoline mixed with milk when he was a teenager.  The more things change...

40ozs&abagofjellybeans
40ozs&abagofjellybeans

What about those elixirs made of opium that folks back in them olden times used to swizzle down? Watch out calling kids dumb...cause sometimes it might come back and bite ya in the rear!

ShinerBocker
ShinerBocker

Yeah it was great before it was illegal..The stuff was all over and you didn't have to worry about being arrested.

Cris Hendrix
Cris Hendrix

If it were legal it'd be a lot cheaper though, especially if you think of terms of cost vs dose. Once the pharmaceutical companies figure out how to make money off it you'll start seeing this stuff become legal.

glowstick
glowstick

yeah, but opium actually is really great.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

At least shrooms and pot are mostly safe...

Pseudonym
Pseudonym

Real psilocybin shrooms are safe.  Psychedelic amanita mushrooms aren't safe if you take too much, but are ok in smaller doses.  Mushrooms you can't identify correctly?  Could be anything from the magic mushrooms you were hoping for to non-psychoactives that taste like dirt to highly poisonous things that will kill you if you don't get a liver transplant by tomorrow.   Here in California we have a few immigrants die every year from picking mushrooms that look like the tasty ones they used to pick in the old country, and Australia's having a round of the same thing.  At least the friendly shroom dealer grew them in his basement from spores he bought, or bought them from a wholesaler who did, so those are usually safe, even though he's currently looking a scary purple color.

And when I was a kid, cough syrup had real codeine in it, but there were also kids who'd sniff glue to get high.

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