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‘Bath salts’ sold as MDMA in Chico

Tj Carter

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M1 is the street name for a research chemical that is being passed off as MDMA, a methamphetamine also known as “Molly,” and Chico users of the drug may not know the difference.

Methylone, M1’s scientific name, first hit the streets around 2004 in the form of bath salts, as reported by Erowid, a nonprofit drug facts website.

“Bath salts” was the name used in head shops and gas stations around the United States to sell drugs like M1 as a “legal high,” as reported by The Guardian in 2013.

Methylone is produced by chemists in places like Germany and sent to Chico through the mail, said a Chico drug dealer whose name was kept anonymous.

“I call and place a small order, something like 28 grams,” he said. “My guy will send what I need within three days and then I package it up and sell it as ‘Molly’ to people at concerts.”

The usual user won’t know the difference, he said.

The going price for 28 grams is $1,000 for methylone and $2,000 for MDMA, he said. Because methylone is cheaper, there is a higher profit margin when it is passed off as MDMA.

Methylone has been illegal since 2011, after the Drug Enforcement Administration put an emergency ban on the drug, according to a DEA press release.

But with many different variations of this compound, it seems unlikely that the DEA will be able to stay in the race of criminalizing these drugs before they hit the street, according to The Guardian’s article.

A basement chemist can slightly change the structure of the molecule they are working with and finish with a new research chemical for the market, said Larry Kirk, a Chico State biochemistry professor.

The three common drugs that Enloe Medical Center tests patients for are opiates, amphetamines and alcohol, said Christina Chavira, Enloe Medical Center spokeswoman.

When a patient comes in from an overdose, Enloe doesn’t test specifically for MDMA, she said.

Since both MDMA and M1 have a similar chemical structure to amphetamine, it will test positive as an amphetamine and will be treated as a mental health issue if the patient doesn’t exhibit any serious symptoms, Chavira said.

There have only been a few documented cases of users overdosing on methylone.

One case from Alaska in 2012 attributes the use of methylone to the death of a 20-year-old, according to a press release by the district attorney’s office in Alaska. This resulted in the arrest of seven individuals for the intent to sell methylone.

Kits that test the purity of MDMA are available through organizations like Dance Safe.

TJ Carter can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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‘Bath salts’ sold as MDMA in Chico