Fake versions of the illegal drug MDMA are circulating at clubs and festivals across the country since pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
MDMA, often referred to as ecstasy, is a recreational drug that can be taken in pill or powder form. It can make users feel more energised, which is why it’s often known as a party drug. Yet side effects can include anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, and paranoia.
According to drug checking service The Loop, only half of the ‘MDMA’ tested at the Lost Village festival in Lincolnshire last month actually contained the stimulant.
Instead, festival-goers had been sold a mixture of other substances including 3-MMC and 4-CMC, both of which are similar to mephedrone. While these substances can cause similar sensations to MDMA, they can also lead to hypertension, chest pains, fear, aggression, psychosis, hallucinations, and insomnia.
There were also similar instances of 4-CMC being sold as MDMA during the Creamfields and Manchester Pride festivals.
Fiona Measham, director of The Loop, warned that MDMA suppliers are struggling to cope with the surge in demand for the substance post-lockdown.
She said: “It’s a combination of factors including the disruptions to supply chains due to Covid, Brexit, road haulage shortages and the sudden huge demand in the UK after 18 months of very limited partying and party drug use.”
Tony Saggers, former head of Drugs Threat and Intelligence at the National Crime Agency claimed that as lockdown reduced the demand for party drugs such as MDMA, production slowed down in countries like Holland, where a lot of drugs are exported from.
“Covid-19 caused a significant lull in demand, while venues were closed and social lives shut down, so Dutch producers will have slowed down as no one wants to sit on an excess mountain of illegal substance.”
He added: “From the last 20 years of working with Dutch law enforcement partners, it’s clear that high UK demand is a major driver of Netherlands-based production and thus the need to access precursor ingredients. When a slowdown happens, producers cease buying pre-cursors and the chemicals required to make them.”
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