PMA and PMMA: Usage trends

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:54 pm

PMA is sold misrepresented as ecstasy, and is only inadvertently used by people who think they are ingesting ecstasy. PMA is not intentionally used as a recreational drug. Because of this circumstance, the trends of PMA abuse run parallel with the trends of ecstasy abuse.
Scope and severity
Reports from the Office of National Drug Control Policy show that club drugs are increasingly available and that their use is on the rise. The most widely available club drug is ecstasy. Over one million ecstasy tablets were seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 1999, whereas in the year 2000 the DEA seized more than three million ecstasy tablets. The number of arrests made by the DEA for ecstasy violations grew from 681 arrests in 1999, to 1,456 arrests in the year 2000. The United States Customs Service seized 3.5 million ecstasy tablets in the year 1999, which grew to 9.3 million ecstasy tablets seized by Customs in 2000. The number of times ecstasy was mentioned in hospital emergency department reports sent to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) increased from 253 in 1994, to 4,511 in the year 2000. The statistics show that increasingly more people are abusing these designer drugs. In response to the ecstasy epidemic, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for ecstasy abuse were changed. In November 2001, the guidelines for selling large amounts of PMA or ecstasy were brought in parallel with the sentencing for the sale of cocaine.
Age, ethnic, and gender trends
In the 2001 Annual Report on the State of the Drugs Problem in the European Union (EMCDDA), amphetamines and ecstasy were listed as the second most commonly abused drugs in Europe. The report stated that within groups of students from Europe and the United States aged 15-16 years, the United States, Ireland, and the Netherlands had the highest percentage of students who had used ecstasy. The 1999 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) studied a larger number of European countries than the 2001 report by the EMCDDA. The ESPAD report showed that along with those countries mentioned by the EMCDDA, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia also had a high percentage of students aged 15-16 years who had used ecstasy. In the 2001 report by the National Drug Monitor of the Netherlands, the average age of ecstasy users was 25 years old. However, 1.9% of 12-year-olds in the Netherlands had used ecstasy.
Ecstasy sellers. From the year 2000 to the year 2002, ecstasy seller populations in the United States expanded at multiple levels. Seller ethnic groups and age groups have broadened to include new categories. Ecstasy sales and raves have extended to new cities across the country. Young adults between the ages of 18-30 are the predominant sellers of ecstasy at the street-level. Adolescent street-level sellers are also common. Ecstasy sales mostly take place in central cities and suburbs. Street-level sellers tend to be independent and mostly target raves, nightclubs, college campuses, and private parties. Other common sales settings include inside cars, private homes, schools, streets, shopping malls, and the Internet. Organized ecstasy sales are mostly seen in nightclubs where the “house dealers” supply the club patrons. Prices in the United States usually range from $20 to $30 a pill. Prices as high as $40 a pill are reported in New York City. Ecstasy sellers tend to use ecstasy themselves.
Typically, street-level ecstasy sellers are not involved in other crimes or violence. However, this is not always the case. In Los Angeles, California, ecstasy sellers tend to be associated with organized crime. Sellers are associated with violent crimes in Baltimore, Maryland, and prostitution in Birmingham, Alabama. Other crimes associated with ecstasy in various cities include drug-assisted rape and gang-related activity. Ecstasy dispersal commonly involves hand-to-hand sales through acquaintance networks, and delivery services may even be employed. According to law enforcement sources, other drugs sold by ecstasy sellers include other club drugs such as gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine, as well as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), heroin, powder and crack cocaine, marijuana, metham-phetamine, and diverted prescription drugs.
Ecstasy users. Ecstasy users tend to be between 13-30 years of age. In a 2002 report by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), 23.8% of eighth graders, 41.4% of tenth graders, and 61.5% of twelfth graders surveyed in the year 2001 reported that ecstasy was easy to obtain. Due to its accessibility, adolescent use of ecstasy is on the rise across the country. Furthermore, in Honolulu, Hawaii, an emerging group of ecstasy users in treatment are preadolescent. Ecstasy users tend to be evenly split between genders, and are of Caucasian ethnicity and middle class financial status. Ethnographic sources indicate that not only are the users predominantly white, but that whites are overrepresented compared with the general population in their cities. However, ecstasy use is expanding to non-white and Hispanic populations across the United States. The use of ecstasy by those of African-American descent has dramatically increased in the Southeast of the United States. Ecstasy users tend to reside in both central cities and suburbs.
The context in which ecstasy is used tends to follow the same context as the settings for the sale of ecstasy. The most frequent places of estasy use are raves, nightclubs, college campuses, private parties, and private residences. Streets, shopping malls, inside cars, and schools are also common. The predominant route of administration of ecstasy across the country is pills taken orally. However, in parts of the United States, there is an increase in users snorting or injecting ecstasy. In some areas ecstasy is commonly used in mixed beverages.

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