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[Contents][Appendix 4]
[No Prev Sect][Section 2]

E is for Ecstasy by Nicholas Saunders

Appendix 4: Bibliography

Legal History

(This section deals largely with United States Law, and it is arranged chronologically)


Sreenivasan, V.R. Problems in Identification of Methylenedioxy and Methoxy Amphetamines. J. Crim. Law 63 304-312 (1972).

In a study of the spectral properties of several substituted amphetamine analogs, the properties of an unknown sample seized from an apparent drug abuser were recorded. The evidence indicated that this material was MDMA. As this report was initially presented to a group of crime laboratory chemists in August, 1970, this is probably the earliest documentation of illicit usage of MDMA.


Gaston, T.R. and Rasmussen, G.T. Identification of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Microgram 5 60-63 (1972).

Several exhibits were encountered in the Chicago area, which were identified as MDMA as the hydrochloride salt. Chromatographic and spectrographic properties are presented.


Anonymous. Request for Information, Microgram 15 126 (1982).

The Drug Control Section of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has solicited information concerning the abuse potential of both MDMA and MDE. The request covered the abuse potential, the illicit trafficking and the clandestine syntheses, since 1977.


Randolph, W.F. International Drug Scheduling; Convention on Psychotropic Substances; Stimulant and/or Hallucinogenic Drugs. Federal Register 49 29273-29274 (1984).

A request has been made from the Food and Drug Administration for information and comments concerning the abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness and trafficking of 28 stimulants and/or hallucinogenic drugs, including MDMA. International restrictions are being considered by World Health Organization.

Mullen, F.M. Schedules of Controlled Substances Proposed Placement of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine into Schedule I. Federal Register 49 30210-30211 (1984).

A request has been made for comments, objections, or requests for hearings concerning the proposal by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the placement of MDMA into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Cotton, R. Letter from Dewey, Ballantine, Bushby, Palmer & Wood, 1775 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006 to F. M. Mullen, Jr., DEA. September 12, 1984.

This is a formal request for a hearing concerning the listing of MDMA as a Schedule I drug. The retaining parties are Professor Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D., George Greer, M.D., Professor Lester Grinspoon, M.D. and Professor James Bakalar.

Mullen, F.M. Schedules of Controlled Substances. Proposed Placement of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine into Schedule I. Hearings. Federal Register 49 50732-50733 (1984).

This is a notice of an initial hearing in the matter of the placement of MDMA into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This is to be held on February 1, 1985 and is intended to identify parties, issues and positions, and to determine procedures and set dates and locations for further proceedings.


Young, F.L. Memorandum and Order. Docket No. 84-48. February 8, 1985.

A formal Memorandum and Order is addressed to the Drug Enforcement Administration, laying out the ground rules for the hearings to be held in the matter of the scheduling of MDMA.

Anon : Request for Information, Microgram 18 25 (1985).

A brief review is presented of the requests for hearings regarding the scheduling of MDMA. A request is made for any information that might be found concerning illicit trafficking, clandestine synthesis, and medical emergencies or deaths associated with the use of MDMA. All such information is to be sent to the Drug Control Section of the DEA.

Young, F.L. Opinion and Recommended Decision on Preliminary Issue. Docket No. 84-48. June 1, 1985.

The question of where to schedule a drug such as MDMA is considered. The Schedules have only one place for drugs without currently accepted medical use, Schedule I. But a second requirement that must be met is that the drug have a high abuse potential. There is no place for a drug without currently accepted medical use and less-than-high abuse potential.

The first opinion is that such a drug cannot be placed in any schedule. And if that is not acceptable to the administrator, then into Schedule III, IV or V, depending upon the magnitude of the less-than-high abuse potential.

Lawn, J.C. Schedules of Controlled Substances; Temporary Placement of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) into Schedule I. Federal Register 50 23118-23120 (1985).

The DEA invoked the Emergency Scheduling Act powers, to place MDMA into Schedule I on a temporary basis, effective July 1, 1985. This move is valid for a year, and can be extended for six months. This occurred just before the first hearing was to take place, to determine the appropriate schedule for MDMA.

[The chronology of the hearings was as follows:]

June 10, 1985: Los Angeles, California
July 10,11, 1985: Kansas City, Missouri
October 8,9,10,11, Nov. 1, 1985: Washington, DC.
February 14, 1986: (submitting briefs, findings, conclusions, and oral arguments) Washington, DC.


Anon: Verordnung des BAG uber die Bet=E4ubungsmittel und andere Stoffe und Pr=E4parate. March 17, 1986.

Effective April 22, 1986, MDMA has been entered into the Controlled Law structure of the Narcotics Laws of Switzerland.

Young, F. L. Opinion and Recommended Ruling, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision of Administrative Law Judge. Docket 84-48. May 22, 1986.

This 70 page decision was handed down as a product of the three hearings held as outlined above. A careful analysis is given of the phrase "currently accepted medical use" and of the phrase "accepted safety for use." The final recommendation was that MDMA be placed in Schedule III.

Stone, S.E. and Johnson, C.A. Government's Exceptions to the Opinion and Recommended Ruling, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision of the Administrative Law Judge. Docket No. 84- 48. June 13, 1986.

The attorneys for the DEA reply to the decision of Judge Young with a 37 page document, including statements that he had given little if any weight to the testimony and document proffered by the DEA, and had systematically disregarded the evidence and arguments presented by the government. Their statement was a rejection of the suggestion of the Administrative Law judge, in that they maintained that MDMA is properly placed in Schedule I of the CSA because it has no currently accepted medical use, it lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.

Lawn, J.C. Schedules of Controlled Substances; Extension of Temporary Control of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) in Schedule I. Federal Register 51 21911- 21912 (1986).

The provision that allows MDMA to be placed in Schedule I on an emergency basis (due to expire on July 1, 1986) has been extended for a period of 6 months or until some final action is taken, whichever comes first. The effective date is July 1, 1986.

Anon: Zweite Verordnung zur =C4nderung bet=E4ubungsmittelrechticher Vorschriften. July 23, 1986.

Effective July 28, 1986, MDMA was added to the equivalent of Schedule I status, in the German Drug Law. This was in the same act that added cathenone, DMA, and DOET.

Lawn, J.C. Order. Docket 84-48 August 11, 1986.

In reply to a motion by the respondents (Grinspoon, Greer et al. to strike portions of the DEA exceptions that might allege bias on the part of the Administrative Law Judge, and to request an opportunity for oral presentation to the Administrator. The bias was apologized for, and struck. The opportunity for oral presentation was not allowed.

Kane, J. Memorandum and Opinion. Case No. 86-CR-153. In the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. Pees and McNeill, Defendants. October 1, 1986.

The is an early decision dismissing a prosecution charge for unlawful acts involving MDMA, on the basis that MDMA had been placed into Schedule I using the Emergency Scheduling Act, and the authority to invoke this Act was invested in the Attorney General, and the Attorney General had never subdelegated that authority to the DEA. This transfer had not occurred at the time of the charges being brought against the defendants, and the charges were dismissed.

Lawn, J.C. Schedules of Controlled Substances; Scheduling of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Federal Register 51 36552-36560 (1986).

A complete review of the scheduling process history of MDMA, including the receipt of Administrative Law Judge Young's recommendations and a 92 point rebuttal of it, is presented. There is an equating of standards and ethical considerations concerning human research, with legal constraints. It is maintained that the original stands taken, that there is no currently accepted medical use, and there is a high abuse potential, were both correct, and this then is the final placement of MDMA into Schedule I, on a permanent basis. The effective date is November 13, 1986.


Coffin, Torruella, and Pettin. United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Lester Grinspoon, Petitioner, v. Drug Enforcement Administration, Respondent. September 18, 1987.

This is the opinion handed down in answer to the appeal made by Grinspoon (Petitioner) to the action of the DEA (Respondent) in placing MDMA in a permanent classification of a Schedule I drug. Most points were found for the DEA, but one specific claim of the petitioner, that MDMA has a currently accepted use in the United States, was accepted. The finding of the court was that the FDA approval was not the sole criterion for determining the acceptability of a drug for medical use. An order was issued to vacate MDMA from Schedule I.


Lawn, J.C. Schedules of Controlled Substances; Deletion of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) From Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Federal Register 53 2225 (1988).

Notice is posted in the Federal Register that MDMA has been vacated from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and now falls under the purview of the Analogue Drug Act. It is no longer a Scheduled Drug. This ruling was effective December 22, 1987, and will be effective until such time as the Administrator reconsidered the record in the scheduling procedures, and issues another final ruling.

Lawn, J.C. Schedules of Controlled Substances; Scheduling of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act; Remand. Federal Register 53 5156 (1988).

Notice is posted in the Federal Register that MDMA has been placed again into Schedule I. The DEA has accepted the Appellate Court's instruction to develop a standard for the term "accepted medical use," and they have done so. The conclusion is that MDMA is properly assigned to Schedule I, and as there have already been hearings, there is no need for any further delay. Effective date, March 23, 1988.

Meyers, M.A. In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, The United Sates of America v. A.E. Quarles, CR. No. H-88-83. Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss. March 25, 1988.

This memorandum (13 pages and attached literature) is an instructive vehicle addressing the applicability of the Analogue laws to MDMA, and the possible unconstitutional vagueness of the Act itself.

Hug, Boochever and Wiggins, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, California. United States, Plaintiff-Appellee v. W.W. Emerson, Defendant-Appellant.

An appeal was made, and was allowed, by three defendants, that the use of the Emergency Scheduling Act by the DEA for the placement of MDMA into Schedule I was improper, in that this power was invested specifically in the Attorney General, and that he had failed to subdelegate this authority to the DEA for its use.

Harbin, H. MDMA. Narcotics, Forfeiture, and Money-Laundering Update, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division. Winter, 1988. pp. 14-19.

A brief legal history of MDMA is presented, detailing its changing status from emergency schedule, to permanent schedule, to non-schedule, to schedule again, a case against its occasional status in-between as an analogue substance. In U.S. v. Spain (10th Circuit, 1987, 825 F.2d 1426), the MDMA conviction was undermined both by the absence of sub- delegation of emergency scheduling powers by the Attorney General to the DEA, and by the failure of the DEA to publish a formal scheduling order 30 days after the publication of its "notice-order", as required by statute. This latter failure was successful in overturning the conviction in the U.S. v. Caudel (5th Circuit, 1987, 828 F.2d 1111)

These reversals were based on the temporary scheduling status of MDMA. The vacating of the permanent scheduling Grinspoon v. DEA (1st Circuit 1987, 828 F.2d 881), coupled with these successful appeals of the temporary scheduling action, will certainly serve to allow further challenge to be made to any and all legal action that took place prior to the final and unchallenged placement of MDMA in Schedule I on March 23, 1988.


Shulgin, A.T. How Similar is Substantially Similar? J. Forensic Sciences, 35 8-10 (1990).

MDMA, illegal under Federal law, can only be charged in the State of California (where it is not a Scheduled drug) as an analogue of some drug that is Scheduled. It must be shown to be substantially similar to known Scheduled drugs in structure or in activity. This similarity definition is discussed.


People v. Silver. Statute Defining Controlled Substance Analog as "Substantially Similar" to Controlled Substance not Unconstitutionally Vague. 91 C.D.O.S. 3801., 2d App. Dist; May 21, 1991.

The question has been brought to the Appeals Court as to a possible vagueness in the wording of the California State Law concerning the definition of Analogue. MDMA was the focus of the appeal. The court found that there was no problem in the definition of the term "substantially similar" but they did not, themselves, define it.

Fromberg, E. Letter to R. Doblin from the Netherlands Institute for Alcohol and Drugs. April 4, 1991.

An explanation of the Schedule I and Schedule II structure of Dutch Law is given. All new drugs must go into Schedule I, and yet MDMA was prosecuted (and defended on appeal) as a (rather minor) Schedule II drug.

Gilbert, J., Stone, P.J. and Yegan, J. Controlled Substance Analog Law is Not Unconstitutionally Vague. Finding of the Second Appellate District Division Six. Daily Appellate Report, May 24, 1991, page 5993-5995.

The appellate Court considered an appeal concerning the classification of MDMA as an analog of methamphetamine. This is question raised under the California Health and Safety Code section 11401, concerning analogs of scheduled drugs, as MDMA is not a scheduled drug in California. The appeal was based (in part) on the statement that "substantially similar" was unconstitutionally vague.

It was concluded that all that was required would be that the statute be reasonably certain, so that a person of common intelligence need not guess at its meaning. They found against the appeal


del Arco, M.A., La Batalla del Extasis: Su Inventor Convencio al Juez de Que es una Droga Blanda. Tiempo, Espana, February 7, 1994.

A consensus of experts presents MDMA as a drug with little hazard associated with it's use. This directly addresses the "rave" scene (La Ruta del Bakalao) in Spain, and removes much of the judicial penalties from this social phenomenon.

Argos, E. and Castello, L. El MDMA es Valioso en Medicina. El Pais, Espana, January 30, 1994 pp. 28-29.

A tribunal court in Madrid found that the material, MDMA, should be classified as a low-hazard drug akin to marijuana, rather than a high-hazard drug such as cocaine, heroin, or LSD. It has a well-defined medical value.

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