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Micheline Duterte, B.A., research Associate II, Camille Jacinto, B.A., study Associate, Paloma Sales, Ph.Dc., project Director, and Sheigla Murphy, Ph.D., major Investigator
Institute for clinical Analysis, 390 4th Street, 2nd floor, Suite D, mountain Francisco, California 94107.

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This article presents selected findings from a qualitative examine of Ecstasy sellers and also their sales practices, expertise of circulation networks, buyer-seller relationships, and also self-reported medicine use. In-depth interviews were conducted with 80 men and also women who had actually sold five or more hits the Ecstasy 5 or much more times in the six months before the interview. Study participants defined their consciousness of the various types of Ecstasy castle had dispersed or used themselves. The participants had experience through a selection of Ecstasy labels, native the well-known “Blue Dolphin” tablets to the powdered type called “Molly.” we tracked pill brand mentions top top Ecstasy-related websites to compare through interviewees’ explanation of Ecstasy brands. This study examines Ecstasy sellers’ ideas about the function of brand names in Ecstasy markets and also their relationship to their beliefs about different varieties of Ecstasy’s purity and also quality. We demonstrate that considering Ecstasy branding boosts our expertise of buyer and seller relationships.

Keywords: Ecstasy, medicine distribution, brands, buyer-seller relationships

In the early years the the twenty-first century the word Ecstasy has involved signify much more than a synonym because that “elation” or “excitement.” for some, Ecstasy evokes a brightly hued tablet, a four-hour-plus experience and also a night the end dancing; others may think of jaw-clenching or “coming down,” the antithesis of a euphoric experience. Ecstasy is the street nomenclature because that MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). During the beforehand stages of to chat Ecstasy use in the joined States, a supplier reportedly hoped to speak to MDMA “Empathy” since he feel it accordingly described the drug’s effects; but he later made decision the name “Ecstasy” would be more appealing come potential customers (Saunders 1993). The marketing the Ecstasy has advanced to incorporate a plethora of brand names and also drugs manufactured in one assortment that shapes and also colors v the an option of flour or pressed tablets with differing ingredients that are marketed under the surname Ecstasy. Over there is scant study in the area of Ecstasy branding, an especially from the perspective of the distributor. In this study, the authors discover the importance and function of pill brands and preferences for powder or pressed pills from the perspectives that a sample of san Francisco bay Area Ecstasy sellers.


MDMA, popularly known as “Ecstasy,” “E,” “X” or “XTC,” is a psychosis substance which resembles both amphetamine and also mescaline in its chemical makeup and also effects. If labeled as a psychedelic drug, it likewise possesses stimulant properties (Rosenbaum, Morgan & Beck 1995; Beck & Morgan 1986; Seymour 1986; Shulgin 1985). Back the ax Ecstasy is used to refer to MDMA, other amphetamine analogues, consisting of MDA, MDE (or MDEA) and also MBDB, are periodically used as substitutes. They all belong to a team of drugs termed phenethylamines and are an ext specifically referred to as “entactogens,” (literally meaning “touching within”) because of their comparable effects (Kalant 2001; Milroy 1999; Nichols & Oberlender 1990; Nichols 1986).

The hopeful reputation that Ecstasy amongst users use deserve to be largely attributed to MDMA’s distinct empathogenic qualities, or the elevated feeling of empathy and intimacy the medicine produces (DanceSafe 2008; Morton 2005; Beck & Rosenbaum 1994; Saunders 1993). While there is no physical hangover analogous come an alcohol hangover, some research study has displayed that users endure depressed atmosphere in the days following use, return this effect seems to be reversible (Morton 2005). According to Ecstasy users, the positive characteristics far outweigh any of the disadvantage side impacts (Levy et al. 2005; Morton 2005; Beck & Rosenbaum 1994).

Although Ecstasy became classified together a Schedule I drug in the us in 1985, to chat Ecstasy use spread worldwide, beginning on the vacation island of Ibiza, Spain. From over there its popular surfaced in good Britain, wherein Ecstasy ended up being the drug of selection for young human being in the rave and also club scenes (Hammersley, Kahn & Ditton 2002; Hammersley et al. 1999; Measham, Parker & Aldridge 1998; Thornton 1996). Ecstasy use did not achieve mainstream standing in the United claims until a decade later, concurrent v the appearance of a domestic rave scene (Sloan 2002). In these earlier times customers would ingest the medicine orally in the form of small, white or light-colored pressed tablets; assorted pill colors and species of Ecstasy had barely surfaced. The branding phenomenon occurred as Ecstasy’s popular increased. In the late 1990s and into the rotate of this century, a wide variety of Ecstasy brands showed up with distinctive pressings, shapes and also colors.


What is Ecstasy? A testimonial of Ecstasy usage research suggests that what is marketed as Ecstasy is often an ext than just MDMA, if the is MDMA at every (Cole & Sumnall 2003; McElrath & McEvoy 2002; Sherlock et al. 1999; Forsyth 1995). Saunders (1993) described Ecstasy as a term offered for MDMA, MDA, MDEA, a mix of this substances, or one or much more of these substances combined with other substances. These included both licit and illicit substances, such together caffeine, ephedrine, DXM, and also LSD. Ecstasy is distinctive together it describes not necessarily one drug but possibly to numerous substances; and for the objectives of this article, us will use the term Ecstasy to represent a perhaps multiple substance drug.

Some have taken into consideration Ecstasy to it is in a “designer drug” (Reneman 2003; Christophersen 2000; Calafat et al. 1998). Henderson (1988) coined this term and defined it together “substances whereby the psychosis properties the a drug room retained, however the molecule structure has actually been altered to stop prosecution.” Ecstasy as MDMA does no fit this definition, as it has been federally scheduled, however combinations of substances sold as Ecstasy could be considered designer medicine according come Henderson’s definition. Forsyth (1995) felt that Ecstasy was an ext aptly a “concept drug” in that in time it came to be a product fairly than a solitary pharmacology. He said that Ecstasy might be a nickname because that MDMA. In Forsyth’s research study on pill brand in the united Kingdom, he found that the marketing of Ecstasy incorporated a lifestyle and also not just a drug. Even if it is Ecstasy have the right to be considered a designer drug or a concept drug, there appears to it is in marketing the Ecstasy with brand names.


In order to discuss branding in the context of the Ecstasy market, the is essential to look at the meaning of brand.’s (2009) first definition for brand was “a kind, grade, or make, as suggested by a stamp, trademark, or the like: the best brand that coffee.” Wikipedia (2009) defines a brand as “…a arsenal of symbols, experiences and also associations associated with a product, a service, a human or any kind of other artifact or entity.” Ecstasy distributors may choose details brands for your pills come convey messages to consumers about their product. According to customer research on brands, individuals form relationships with specific brands depending upon their experiences with them end time, which may result in brand commitment (Fournier 1998; Fournier & Yao 1997). A medicine distributor understandably might want to utilize branding to create and also maintain a connection with his or her customers. A question emerges as to which connection is more powerful in Ecstasy markets—the relationship in between sellers and Ecstasy brand names or the relationship in between sellers and also their buyer/supplier network.

According to Van de Wijngaart and also colleagues (1999), many Ecstasy users obtain their pills via friends or acquaintances and also many are not certain of the ingredient of this pills. While the aforementioned research did not delve into the specifics of Ecstasy brands, it would appear that friendships in between buyers and sellers gave in trust in the purity and quality that the Ecstasy exchanged regardless of brand. The current study will certainly further check out the importance of Ecstasy brand call versus the social bonds in between buyers and sellers of Ecstasy.

Ecstasy is not the first illicit medicine to be identified by brand names. Drugs like lysergic mountain diethylamide (LSD) and also heroin have been stamped with miscellaneous symbols over time, regularly spawned by popular society and recognizable icons. McCormick (2003) notes the LSD has the longest history of imagery in that is marketing. The beforehand designs provided for LSD to be reminiscent that childhood fantasies and also inspired by popular cartoons the the time, consisting of Mickey mouse in Fantasia, Snoopy, Mr. Natural, and also Alice in Wonderland. Oftentimes these pictures referenced the purported surreal, psychedelic experience created by the drug additionally known together acid. As production techniques developed along with technological advances over the years, blotter acid prints started to lug images the the prevailing culture as a sort of mockery, ranging from nationwide monuments to the main FBI emblem (McCormick 2003).

Wendel and also Curtis’ (2000) job-related on heroin stamps in brand-new York City reveals vital cultural artifact in the people of drug marketing. Heroin stamping appeared to take place mainly in brand-new York City from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s where powder heroin was marketed in small glassine bags because that $10. This were known as “dime bags.” as the heroin marketing business adjusted from sellers and buyers that knew each other intimately to much more anonymous markets, distributors attempted to identify themselves indigenous each various other by producing brand names that would obtain a reputation for your drugs being the ideal on the streets. Stamps became associated with places of dealers or handle crews and also included names prefer “Laundromat.” an ext common names referred to the dark next of heroin use, such as “No method Out” and also “Poison,” while rather advertised the quality of heroin through names like “The Choice” and also “No Joke.” A number of brands were borrowed from the consumer society of movies and designer labels. At the time of Wendel and Curtis’ writing, stamping had started to fade as legislation enforcement recorded on come the trend. Cabinet phones and beepers boosted in popularity because that dealers, diminishing the function of medicine stamps. The researchers indicate that heroin stamps worked as a chronicling, not just of the heroin sector at the time, but likewise of within city life and possibly subconscious responses come what distributors observed in the world approximately them.

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Ecstasy labeling can be viewed in a similar means to heroin stamps and also acid blotter sheets; however, findings from analyses of ours interview data and also reviews of Ecstasy-related websites indicate that Ecstasy branding is somewhat distinctive compared to labeling in various other drug markets. Follow to the United says Drug Enforcement management (DEA 2003), significant distributors parcel Ecstasy with appealing logos in hopes of structure brand loyalty, instilling confidence in the product, and ultimately cultivating use the the drug as fun and also harmless. Media and also law enforcement reports have declared that Ecstasy sellers sector the medicine to youngsters by producing candy-colored pills through kid-friendly logos ( 2004; DEA 1999). Although the majority of sellers interviewed because that this research were not major distributors or manufacturers, we wanted to determine what ours sample thought around the purpose and also effects of Ecstasy brands and also how important they to be in a organization sense. Did buyers favor one brand to another and, if so, why?

Unlike heroin stamps, Ecstasy branding has occurred worldwide as Ecstasy use progressed from underground parties to tendency use. And also while LSD iconography was steeped in hippie-inspired emblems like tranquility signs and rainbows, the advertising logos the Ecstasy brands expose a different ideology altogether (McCormick 2003). While not every Ecstasy brand is based upon corporate identifiers, the significance of consumer society is apparent in the marketing the this drug v pill brands choose Motorola and also Mitsubishi. These labels also seem to reflect the existing state of culture in i m sorry Ecstasy pills could be seen as social artifacts of center class, drug-using society worlds. Us enquired about our participants’ perceptions worrying what assorted Ecstasy brand represented.