What is PMA?
PMA is a methoxylated phenethylamine derivative. It is related in chemical structure and pharmacological properties to methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA), methy-lenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA), and mescaline. Although often sold as 'ecstasy', PMA is structurally most similar to mescaline and subsequently has strong hallucinogenic properties.
PMA was first encountered in the illegal drug market in the 1970s. Within a few years, PMA had been associated with several fatalities in Canada and subsequently earned the street name 'death'. PMA resurfaced in the 1990s in Australia and was again associated with a number of fatalities, particularly in South Australia. These deaths primarily occurred amongst people who thought they were consuming ecstasy.
PMA is also known as: 4-methoxyamphetamine, 4-MA, 'death', 'Dr Death'. Pure PMA is a white powder, but forms found on the street can also be beige, pink, or yellowish. It may knowingly be used on its own in order to increase the effects of MDMA; however, more often than not, PMA is sold as 'ecstasy' in either pill or capsule form. In these cases, it comes in a variety of different colours and with a variety of different logos, and is usually indistinguishable from ecstasy. This can be extremely dangerous since PMA has a higher potency (i.e. effects at lower doses) and a more delayed onset of activity than MDMA, and as such it is easier to overdose on PMA. High dosages of PMA can lead to sudden, large and potentially fatal increases in blood temperature, body temperature and blood pressure.
What it looks like:
PMA is sold as a pill but the pills can be lots of different colours and can have different marks on them. It is relatively easy to grind down pills to recolor and re-brand them with a new logo or design, so a pink heart-shaped pill can be made into a green round pill or a yellow square pill. As with any pill you can never be sure what it contains or how this might affect you.
PMA: not just another drug scare story:
PMA - the common name for paramethoxyamphetamine - is usually sold in pill form, sometimes stamped with a crown, or M and sometimes pink (hence the nickname "pink ecstasy"). People who take PMA often believe they are taking ecstasy. The drug's effects are similar but they can take up to an hour to be felt, so users may take another pill in the mistaken belief that the first has not worked, resulting in a massive dose.
"PMA is a potent releaser of serotonin," says Sumnall. "It also prevents the reuptake of serotonin back into neurons and inhibits the enzymes which are responsible for the breakdown of serotonin. This increase in serotonin, especially when PMA is taken in combination with other drugs, can lead to hyperthermia and subsequently, organ failure. Basically people are overheating and collapsing."
Dr Death is often mistaken for ecstasy, but is more lethal:
Dr Death is also known as Pink Mitsubishi, PMA, Pink McDonalds, Pink Ecstasy, Killer, and Chicken Fever. The drug was first synthesised in 1967 by the psychedelic chemist Alexander Shulgin, the so-called godfather of MDMA. At the time he advised people to beware of the compound, according to Mike Power, author of Drugs 2.0. The drug is believed to have been first identified in the United States in the early 1970s.
What are its effects?
The drug has a similar high to MDMA, and can have psychedelic properties. It gives the user a buzz which makes sounds and colours feel more intense. It can also make a person feel like they have an intense affinity with those around them. But while Ecstasy can kick in after 20 minutes, it can take PMA up to an hour to begin working - sometimes leading people to fatally up their dose.
Effects of PMA and PMMA:
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It's important to be careful when taking any kind type of drug.
PMA and PMMA affect everyone differently, but effects may include:
- Moderate stimulation
- Seeing colours and shapes
- Heightened senses (sight, hearing and touch)
- Dry mouth and dehydration
- Increased bodily temperature - The most common cause of death from PMA is due to severe hyperthermia
- Increased perspiration teeth grinding
- Increased sweating
- Increased heartbeat and blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular eye movements
- Muscle spasms
- Decreased appetite
- Nausea and vomiting (common at any dose)
- Seizures - (more common with PMMA than with almost any other substance)
PMA can cause life-threatening side effects (such as hyperthermia and serotonin syndrome) even at moderate doses. As a result, using this substance is strongly discouraged. It is also advised to always test your MDMA for the presence of PMA using a reagent testing kit as it is a common adulterant.
As with ecstasy, it's possible to build up a tolerance (which means people need to take more PMA to get the same level of buzz). Psychological dependence may also develop (with an increased desire to keep taking the drug despite the risks). There have been no clear physical withdrawals reported with PMA but, as with ecstasy, users may feel lethargic or low for some days after having used.
How long does it stay in your system?
Shows up in urine tests for 3-8 days. (The length of time depends on the test used, the amount you take, if you have other medical conditions and your own metabolism. Please use this figure as a guide only).
EMCDDA - Europol Joint Report 2012:
- Twelve Member States as well as Croatia and Norway reported to Europol and the EMCDDA seizures of 4-methylamphetamine mostly in powder or paste form, ranging from 0.02 g up to 147 kg. A few seizures were in tablet or liquid form.
- Samples that contained 4-methylamphetamine typically contained amphetamine and caffeine in varying ratios.
- According to information provided to Europol, in recent years multiple illicit production sites and/or other indications related to the production of 4-methylamphetamine have been discovered in the Netherlands. Seizures related to international trafficking of 4-methylamphetamine have been reported by two Member States with indications of trafficking from a third Member State.
- According to information provided to Europol no distinct difference can be made between 4-methylamphetamine and amphetamine in terms of the involvement of organised crime groups, production, trade, and/or users.
- There is little evidence to suggest a specific demand for 4-methylamphetamine. However, the substance is sold as amphetamine (e.g. as 'speed'). Drug prevalence estimates suggest that about 12.5 million Europeans have tried amphetamines, and about 2 million have used the drug during the last year. Consequently, this population may be at risk of exposure to 4-methylamphetamine if this substance becomes more widely available.
- 4-methylamphetamine has no known medical use (human or veterinary) in the European Union.
Effects of PMA ingestion include many effects of the hallucinogenic amphetamines including accelerated and irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, and a strong feeling of intoxication that is often unpleasant. At high doses unpleasant effects such as nausea and vomiting, severe hyperthermia and hallucinations may occur. The effects of PMA also seem to be much more unpredictable and variable between individuals than those of MDMA, and sensitive individuals may die from a dose of PMA that a less susceptible person might only be mildly affected by. While PMA alone may cause significant toxicity, the combination of PMA with MDMA has a synergistic effect that seems to be particularly hazardous.
Drug Types - Definitions via Your Room. A joint initiative by NSW Health and St Vincent's Alcohol and Drug Information Service. New psychoactive substances are chemicals that have been developed to have similar ...
Wednesday December 20, 2017 - police.nsw.gov.au
Bournemouth pair jailed for selling 'Dr Death' drugs that killed 20-year-old Scott Gowing-Wilks - Drugs and alcohol advisers in Dorset said ... was unascertained until toxicology results revealed he died of Para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA) toxicity. An inquest was opened and adjourned and now ...
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