Working on article for Drink and Drug News - PMK Glycidate and the Rise of 'Super Strength' MDMA Tablets

Fertile

Bluelighter
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As the title says, I have been researching the rise of (R) MDMA, high dose (500mg) MDMA tablets and the new(ish) pre-precursor, PMK glycidate.

My logic is that nobody would make a 500mg MDMA tablet that sells for the same price as 100mg MDMA tablets unless you KNOW that what you have is weak. I concluded that 3,4-(Methylenedioxy)cinnamic acid is the source material (PMK was controlled in China in 2015) & that someone had found a direct (or at least chiral) route for the synthesis of MDMA from PMK glycidate. Converting PMK-glycidate to MDP2P is widely known and very simple so their could be 2 explainations:

1)The 'cooks' only know 1 way to make MDMA from PMK-glycidate and so they have no option but to sell a low quality product at a lower price.
2)The direct (chiral) route from PMK-glycidate to MDMA is so efficient that it's more profitable to sell the lower quality product at a lower price.

I am now datamining to see if I can find the second (PMK glycidate to MDMA) because it would imply the first.

I conclude that such a route must have a lot of advantages. I suspect that it does not require methylamine.

I originally thought that the glycidate was being made using the Darzen's reaction. This involves the use of 2-hydroxypropanoic acid. The CHEAPEST way to make this precursor is from lactic acid and as we all know, lactic acid is CHIRAL. That would have answered 50% of the question. But now I'm not so sure.

I would be very grateful for any information people might have. This is not intended to show people how to make MDMA, it's intended to reduce harm and one has to admit that 500mg of MDMA is not an intrinsically safe alternative when compared to 125mg. If you know lactic acid is used somewhere, that would be a clue. If you know that their is a direct route then that would be a clue. It's all going to be clues. I seriously doubt anyone involved in the clandestine synthesis of MDMA is going to pipe up with the answer.

I am also looking into an on-the-spot test for detecting an enantiomeric excess. Currently polarimetry or even more complex methods are used. I'm looking at finding a reagent that only reacts with the (R) isomer and another that only reacts with the (S) isomer. It would be very clever to find 1 reagent that goes a different colour based on the particular isomer.... but I'm betting that 2 simple reagents will be cheaper.

This putative test reagent has no name as of yet. I propose that if we can find these clues, put them together and find a reagent, it be christened 'Bluelight Reagent' on the basis that it will be the work of many people. It also helps drive people to our HR communuty.

Many thanks for your imput.
 

G_Chem

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I like the reagent idea, but we have at least 2 recent research articles this supposed mass R-MDMA phenomenon isn’t happening. One finding all samples were racemic and the other showing only one sample with a skewed enatiomeric excess in favor of R but still some S present. These can be found in the “What’s Wrong With MDMA Today?” Thread.

My fairly well educated guess is that we are looking at some impurity that negates the positive effects. The enatiomeric excess theory has been disproven on multiple levels.

But back to the reagent idea (cuz I like that for the simple fact of what if one day you stumble upon a batch with excess, it’d be nice to know) has that ever been done with any other substances isomers before?

-GC
 

Fertile

Bluelighter
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I would certainly like some reference on the (R) thing being disproven. Not that I doubt you, but because I want references on everything.

I don't see the logic of selling a pill with 500mg of active material for the same price as one with 100mg of active material. Mistakes happen, but this isn't isolated - it's popping up all over Europe and North America. The pills we paid £20 for in 1987 had 125mg of MDMA in them and that did us for the whole night. A FEW lunatics who wanted to just keep going would take a second one later, but 'double dropping' isn't common. If people want 2, they pay for 2.

It would have to be an impressive route given that the reductive amination of PMK can yield 95% (if you have the right paper). It can only be that a direct route is either the only one the 'cook' knows and/or it's more efficient. I mean, some chemists have telescoped some syntheses really impressively. The reduction of pseudoephedrine is now at once VERY simple but also VERY dangerous.

It strikes me that it would be a route that doesn't practice solvent management, doesn't use any difficult-to-handle reagents (like using nitromethane in place of methylamine in the Al/Hg route) and has a simple workup. There is no obvious candidate BUT it's got to be CHEAP.
 

G_Chem

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This one shows only one sample of 12 had a slight enatiomeric excess. (Look up PDF on Google Scholar.)


Germany, 90-something samples between 19-20. All samples racemic.


I’ll respond more later when I can.

-GC
 

Fertile

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Same article but not behind a paywall.

Well, 11 of the 12 were racemic which is what one would expect but 1 was 63.6% of the (R) isomer. Not an excess of the (S) as one would expect if someone wanted a stronger product. So it that a route that yield a slight excess of the (R) isomer OR is it MDMA from multiple sources all mixed together for tabletting?

I used to know several MDMA tabletting operations in The Netherlands. The way they worked was to source the MDMA from dozens of kitchen chemists. These guys produced anywhere from 1 to 20Kg per month. That decentralised model meant that when the people doing the tabletting got caught, they did not.

So the paper does show that their is at least one person using a chiral synthesis. It doesn't show if it's a route that produces a slight EE of the (R) isomer OR if one producer is using a route that produces a much higher EE but it's diluted because it's mixed with a lot of racemic product. The last option is that the makers discovered that a 60% (R), 40% (S) mix is more or less identical in effect to a true racemate and (R) MDMA sells for less, BUT if one could choose a route that produces an EE, wouldn't one try to make more (S)?

I don't know of any other chiral MDMA syntheses. Yes, one could employ a chiral auxiliary, resolve the isomers or use a chiral catalyst, but I've never heard of any of these approaches being used.

BTW China has controlled PMK glycidate (specifically the methyl ester) so you will not be surprised to learn that the Chinese are now making and supplying the ethyl ester. Again, this detail seems to be absent in most reports. That and the fact that PMK glycidate is supposed to have been a key factor in brining down the wholesale price of MDMA to £5000/Kg on the dark web (according to a German programme).

I did wonder if the Chinese were forming PMK glycidate from 3,4-methylenedioxy cinnamic acid but can find no evidence. Of course, lack of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

*Edit*

Sorry, didn't see that second link. It doesn't refute the fact that someone IS producing MDMA with an EE of (R) that cannot be explained statistically. None of the routes encountered would explain it and the fact that it is the less active (R) isomer suggests that the makers could not control the stereochemistry.

I just noticed that (R) MDMA is being explored for medical use. Mind Medicine in NYC had a press release in which they mention that they have developed 'an efficient synthetic pathway'. I cannot find a patent or who on their board is a chemist. Again, if anyone knows, that would be a help - I may be able to find his or her paper on (R) MDMA synthesis.
 
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S.J.B.

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It's hard to see how you would get to MDMA via PMK glycidate without losing chiral information. I bet you could get an article in JACS for something like that!
 

Fertile

Bluelighter
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Well, epoxides do react with amines chirally. I haven't found an appropriate example but I don't have another explanation for how an excess of the (R) isomer was found in a sample. One would assume PMK glycidate would simply serve as a source of PMK, but PMK is achiral.

I have noted that 3,4-methylenedioxy cinnamic acid is a possible precursor for PMK glycidate. That would have the benefit of not proceeding via PMK which has been controlled in China since 2015. It is an item of commerce.
 
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