MDMA is a synthetic drug that is commonly called ecstasy. Because it is a central nervous system stimulant, it enhances sensory perceptions, including that of color, sound, and touch. Ecstasy also has some hallucinogenic properties.
According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the Merck chemical company originally developed ecstasy in 1912. The drug gained some popularity among psychiatrists in the 1970s and 1980s because some believed it enabled patients to open up and also gain clear insight into their issues. The drug never gained approval for this use by the Food and Drug Administration, however. During this time, recreational use became more common. The New York Times reported on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s intent to schedule the drug over growing concerns of its misuse. The DEA did, in fact, place an emergency ban on the drug that year, and it is still a Schedule I controlled substance.
Ecstasy is sometimes sold as “molly,” a supposedly pure form of MDMA; however, often ecstasy, even when sold as pure “molly” has little to no MDMA at all. Tests on ecstasy samples have revealed that many drugs sold as MDMA are in fact mixtures of other synthetic drugs, such as ketamine, flakka, methamphetamine, or synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”).