Methylone is a designer street drug with a chemical structure that is very similar to MDMA (molly).  Common street names for the drug include Explosion, bk-MDMA, Ease; M1, and Neocor. The substance first showed up in the Netherlands in 2004. It was able to bypass regulatory laws by being sold as a liquid “room odorizer.” Reported dosages range from 100 to 250 mg orally, and has very similar effects to MDMA.

Early in 2005, methylone became available for sale online, and made its way into the United States. The drug didn’t really become well-known in the US until about last year, when it made its way into clubs and electronic music concerts.

Methylone is also a key ingredient in the designer drug “bath salts,” which have been making headlines recently for their ability to cause extreme paranoia and hallucinations, prompting users to self-mutilate or commit suicide while intoxicated.

Methylone: How is it legal?

Designer drugs like methylone, synthetic cannaboids, and the infamous “bath salts” are sold as products that are “not intended for human consumption” *wink, wink* This is how distributers are able to circumvent laws that regulate products intended to be ingested. The drugs are sold at head shops and online.  And while all packages sent to the United States are subject to inspection, drug-sniffing dogs cannot generally detect methylone and other synthetic drugs.

Some states are now cracking down on the chemicals used to make designer drugs, rather than the products themselves. However, manufacturers can slightly tweak the formulation by the time the laws have passed banning chemicals contained in the drugs, staying one step ahead of lawmakers.

Another problem is that these designer drugs are very new to the market. By the time law enforcement officials are aware of the newest drug being sold, another one comes out. In an emergency decision last October, the DEA temporarily classified methylone and two other bath salts ingredients as Schedule I controlled substances, which is the same classification as other illegal drugs such as heroin, LSD, and marijuana.

Methylone: What are the effects?

According to a leaflet that is often handed out with the sale of methylone, it starts to take effect from 15 minutes to an hour after ingestion. Methylone “alters the consciousness” and  gives the user a “happy, relaxed, high, floating feeling and a strong desire to make contact, to talk, and to intimacy.” The pamphlet goes on to describe a “blissful state [that] comes over the user.”

What the pamphlet doesn’t mention, however, is that methylone can also cause an extreme increase in body temperature, high heart rate, and nausea and vomiting. Cardiac arrest and cascading organ failure are not uncommon in users of methylone.

The most dangerous part of taking designer drugs is simply that they are so new. They have not been properly studied by scientists or medical professionals, and no one knows the long term effects. These drugs can often be more harmful than the street drugs they are meant to mimic.