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ARCHIVE:  March 15, 2001

Making MDA, MDEA & MDMA

Dear Dr. Shulgin:

There have been many rumors about MDA, MDEA and MDMA, mainly saying that one is harder to make than another.  I would like to know if this is so, as far as synthesis and precursors are concerned.  Thanks in advance.  --   Chris

Dear Chris:

The usual precursor for all three of these drugs is a simple compound, piperonylacetone.  This is made from the essential oil safrole, usually by way of the intermediate isosafrole.

All three compounds are equally easy to make by reductive amination, calling upon ammonia for MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine), methylamine for MDMA
(methylenedioxymethamphetamine or N-methyl-methylenedioxyamphetamine), and ethylamine for MDEA (N-ethylmethylenedioxyamphetamine). The amount of product obtained is quite variable, however, with MDA usually being produced in the lowest yield. 

Do bear in mind that although these chemical conversions are quite straightforward, they are felonious actions and the preparation of any one of these three compounds is a prosecutable crime. One of the major causes of damage resulting from the exploration of these areas is that one encounters, not scientific, but legal problems.

-- Dr. Shulgin

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