Chem-Safe - Energy Control
Feb 22, 2023
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MDMA, amphetamine and cocaine markets in Spain (2022)​

Main Conclusions
  1. In general terms, it is confirmed that the Spanish markets for MDMA, amphetamine and cocaine reflect the global dynamics observed in other European countries, such as, for example, the increase in MDMA doses in tablets, the stability in the purity of MDMA crystal or the increase in the purity of cocaine.
  2. Caffeine is the main adulterant in stimulant substances. Its predominance can be explained by its high availability in all countries.
  3. No particularly toxic adulterants have been identified. Despite the concerns raised at the beginning of the pandemic that foreshadowed an increase in adulteration in the markets, no major alterations have been detected in them, at least until 2021.
  4. Although the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) as adulterants of MDMA and amphetamine had been documented in previous studies, in the period studied their presence has been anecdotal. Possibly, in a scenario marked by high production of MDMA, amphetamine and cocaine and in which adulteration in general seems to have decreased, the use of new substances as adulterants has practically disappeared. However, where this practice was most identified was in MDMA tablets.
  5. The impact of the pandemic has been reflected mainly in the services, both in the number of samples analyzed and in the number of people using them, and not so much in the markets. The first data at the beginning of the pandemic already showed the high resilience of the markets to the pandemic situation and no relevant changes have been detected in this sense.

Regarding the MDMA market:

  1. The results of our study confirm the need, which had already been raised in previous studies, for a differentiated analysis between crystal and tablets circulating in the market, as they present different dynamics in terms of purity and adulteration.
  2. Purity and adulteration in the Spanish MDMA market are in line with the European situation. While the average purity of crystal remained relatively stable at around 80% between 2017 and 2021, the average dosage of MDMA in tablets was rising from 170 milligrams in 2017 to 188 milligrams in 2020.
  3. MDMA, both in crystal and tablet form, presented very low levels of adulteration throughout the period studied. Even so, the number of different adulterants and the number of different compositions identified in both presentations was decreasing from 2019 onwards.
  4. In 2021, however, there seems to be a change in trend that should be confirmed in the coming years, with a decrease in the doses of MDMA in tablets and an increase in adulteration, both in crystal and tablets.

About the amphetamine market:

  1. In general, the purity of amphetamine remained stable over the entire period studied, at around 38%. Furthermore, no differences in purity were observed according to the format (powder or paste) of the speed samples, which invalidates the generalized idea that paste (or wet) speed is of higher quality in terms of purity.
  2. Between 2017 and 2020 there was a significant increase in the number of speed samples containing only amphetamine. These unadulterated samples tended to contain approximately twice the amount of amphetamine as adulterated samples.
  3. Adulteration of speed is mainly done by addition, with caffeine being the most commonly used substance as an adulterant. However, there was a significant decrease in the number of samples containing caffeine until 2020, rebounding in 2021 to 2017 levels.

Finally, in relation to the cocaine market:
  1. Cocaine purity, in line with other reports, saw a significant increase from 48% in 2014 to 65% in 2018 although, from 2019 onwards, it began to decline. Parallel to the increase in purity was a significant increase in the percentage of unadulterated samples, from 19% in 2014 to 68% in 2018.
  2. Cocaine adulteration occurs mostly by addition of a set of substances that has remained virtually unchanged throughout the period studied: levamisole, caffeine, phenacetin and local anesthetics (lidocaine and tetracaine, mainly). Significantly, in the samples adulterated by addition, a total of 179 different compositions were identified, although the most common was cocaine mixed with levamisole.
  3. The presence of levamisole as an adulterant of cocaine underwent a very significant decrease over the period studied, from being present in 66.6% of adulterated samples in 2015 to 13.5% of samples in 2018. Although, from that year onwards, its presence increased again, it is still in the lowest percentages of the entire period studied.


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