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[Contents][Appendix 1]
[Reference 53][Reference 55]

E for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders
Appendix 1: Reference Section

54 Conversation with Dr. Les King, team leader of the drugs intelligence laboratory at the Forensic Science Laboratory at Aldermaston, part of the Forensic Science Service, a Government agency, 14/12/92
The drugs intelligence laboratory analyses suspected drugs sent by the police, that have been seized from people arrested on suspicion of being in the possession of controlled drugs. Dr. King points out that samples sent to the lab are not necessarily representative of what is being sold on the streets. No statistical analysis of samples is done at Aldermaston, but Dr. King related his impression of the overall pattern of findings, based on personal experience. The lab is not usually told what drug to look for and therefore runs a series of tests to see whether any controlled drug is present.

Impurities are not looked for. But the typical weight of a tablet sent to the lab is from 200 to 600 mg, so non-psychoactive filler is nearly always used. Dr. King has not come across or heard of poisonous substances present in samples of Ecstasy.

Nearly all samples are in the form of capsules and tablets. The lab consistently finds that about 90% contain an active ingredient, while the rest are fake.

When tablets contain MDMA, MDA and MDEA, there is not normally any other drug present. Typically, tablets or capsules contain about 100 mg MDMA or 60-70 mg MDA. Doses vary by 10-20% above or below this amount according to the 'brand' of tablet or capsule, but each brand is fairly consistent from one pill to the next. Recently, a lot of MDEA has been seen but not enough to establish a figure for a typical dose.

The trend in 1991 and 1992 was an increase in MDA but this has peaked and MDMA, MDA and MDEA are now found in roughly equal proportions. MDEA is still on the increase.

There has been a tendency over the years towards dilution of doses - a typical Ecstasy tablet today probably contains some 10-20% less MDMA than it would have contained a few years ago.

Each brand of Ecstasy isaround for 3 to 6 months. Dr. King says this short brand lifespan may be due to fake lookalikes giving the brand a bad name. Tablets composed of amphetamine-based concoctions may be sold as Ecstasy, when MDMA is in short supply. However, these are also sold under other names.

In the past year there has been a trend towards "amphetamine cocktails". One contained amphetamine and LSD, complete with ground-up paper (presumably the 'blotter' LSD is usually supplied on). Another, believed to be sold under the name "banana split", contained amphetamine, cocaine and LSD. Another recent cocktail is amphetamine and Tiletamine. Tiletamine is a vetinerary anaesthetic similar to Ketamine and is manufactured in England for export only. A few kilos were stolen but the source has now been cut off.

A reagent, known as Marquis, consists of sulphuric acid and formaldehyde. It turns orange when mixed with amphetamines and shows a black/purple colour when combined with MDA, MDMA and MDEA. However, it also turns black with various prescription drugs and even paper, so cannot be reliably used to test drug samples. [Someone doing such tests "day in day out" may build up enough experience to distinguish between the colour changes in Marquis when it is combined with MDA, MDMA and MDEA - various shades of brown and orange - but inexperienced users could not hope to do so.] Marquis does however serve as a fairly reliable test for opiates, which show purple.

[Contents][Appendix 1]
[Reference 53][Reference 55]
E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders (
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Spiritual use of psychoactives book by Nicholas Saunders