There has been a lot of hype recently about the “deadly” PM(M)A (para-Methoxy-N-methylamphetamine) and new ultra-strong MDMA pills going round Britain’s club scene. Leading drug charity Dancesafe described the new pills, some embossed with the ‘UPS’ logo, as “potentially harmful because they are so strong”.

PM(M)A is dangerous if you think you’re taking MDMA as it has less of the desired experience with an increase in nasty side-effects. If you take a higher dosage thinking it is weak gear you could well find yourself in trouble.

The sad fact is that PM(M)A is cheaper to manufacture as the precursor chemicals are more readily available. Unfortunately some underground Dutch ‘chemists’ aren’t always the most ethical, conscientious and even scientifically sound individuals we may hope they are.

When I spoke to Prof. Fiona Measham, who is currently busy revolutionising drug testing in the UK, she told me:


The problem is that people want the UPS pills now because they are reported to be strong and pure. So it’s only a matter of time before some new UPS pills come out with PM(M)A in them.

I went to Canal Mills in Leeds recently for an acid house night and was shocked and dismayed by what I witnessed. Upon arrival, I was first required to empty all my belongings into a plastic tray and received a thorough search, before being told to join a separate queue where my friend and I were lined up against a wall to be given a good going over by the sniffer dog. Once inside, after making a comment to the bouncer (which did not go down well) likening the club to Guantanamo Bay, I saw a stream of messy people steadily getting chucked out.

The guerrilla-style door security was supplemented by staff spying through the tiny gaps between cubical toilets in a bitter attempt to catch drug users in the act. A security guard with a ponytail and one glass eye was particularly guilty of this. At one point two of the bouncers stormed into the urinals and belligerently demanded that everyone present be searched.

Club nights seem to be intimidating clubbers into taking their drugs before they enter the venue. But given the strength of drugs around at the minute, this is gravely dangerous. It’s a remarkable situation where club nights have managed to completely exonerate themselves of any legal implications whilst putting their clientele at an increased risk.

While it would be the preferred option, we can’t stop you from taking these drugs, so it’s essential we stress that using a testing kit and only taking half initially is sound advice.

How to test your pill: just pour the tiny bits of powder from the bottom of the bag into the testing tube and see what colour it goes (see below).

Purple/Black = MDMA
Brown = PM(M)A *DANGER*
Red = Ketamine
Green = Amphetamine

In an attempt to glean a wider perspective on the situation, I found three separate dealers selling pills to students. In the name of education and knowledge, I bought some in order to test them.

The first were pink ‘Chupa Chups’ which I’m told used to contain a high dose of MD. Unfortunately, after the quick test I ascertained that they contained PM(M)A. They went straight down the toilet after a refund was secured. Next was a green knuckle duster shaped pill which gave a crazily strong purple reaction indicating up to 200mg of Ecstasy. The third was a pink ‘UFO’ which, as you can see in the Vine above, also came back as MDMA.

The bottom line is that a testing kit costs about a fiver and whilst not being 100% accurate it could save your life.