Update: more pills to be aware of this summer

With the festival season ongoing and many university Orientation events happening next week, KnowYourStuffNZ would like to provide an update of pills currently in circulation that may not be as they seem. This follows on from our notification of high dose MDMA pills prior to New Year. The pills have been identified in our testing this summer season, and are likely to be found around the country.

Four new types of pill have been estimated to contain more than one dose of MDMA, and two contain no MDMA at all, instead containing cathinones (“bath salts”). One of the cathinone pills also contains caffeine.

Cathinone pills

Mephedrone produces similar effects to MDMA, but is described as ‘speedier’ and is active in lower doses. A common dose is 45-80mg. It has been implicated in a small number of deaths overseas. 

The main danger with mephedrone is that it has a high redose compulsion which makes you want to take more. This can lead to prolonged insomnia, overdose or dependence.

Methylone, also known as bk-MDMA, has similar effects to MDMA but is less potent in terms of dose. A common dose is 150-200mg. The identified pill also contains caffeine. This increases the risk of harm as combining stimulants can cause heart problems and psychosis. 

Cathinones can be dangerous when taken with alcohol, tramadol, or MAOI antidepressants. They can cause insomnia and anxiety, and in high doses, psychosis. 

High dose MDMA pills

The pills that we have found contain up to three doses in a single pill. A common dose of MDMA is around 80-120 milligrams, depending upon a user’s body weight. We recommend weighing your doses wherever possible.

Taking too much MDMA can result in a very unpleasant experience, health risks, and sometimes even death. 

Because these substances act on the serotonin system, serotonin syndrome is a potentially fatal risk. If you or someone you know has taken any of these pills and experiences the following, seek medical attention immediately. 

  • dizziness
  • vomiting, 
  • a sharp rise in body temperature, 
  • muscle cramping, 
  • heart palpitations, 
  • seizures, 
  • unconsciousness,.

Please note that the amount of active substance present is an estimate only as our technology cannot directly measure dosage or purity. Our spectrometer provides a rough percentage of psychoactive content in a sample. We use this combined with the weight of the pill to reach these estimates. The estimated dosage should be treated as an indication only and we recommend caution.

Pills to be aware of include:

 

Description Image
Green Speckles

Dark green, round, speckled, no logo

Weight: 371mg

Estimated to contain 150-200mg MDMA

1 green plain adjusted - CopyColour and size reference chart
(1 square= 1cm2)
Orange One

Orange/brown, round pill, has ‘ONE’ stamped on it

Weight: 370mg

Estimated to contain 200-250mg MDMA

2 orange one adjusted - Copy
Pink Grenade

Pink, shaped like a grenade with grenade markings stamped on it, sometimes mistaken for a pineapple

Weight: 338mg

Estimated to contain at least 150mg MDMA

4 pink grenade adjusted - Copy
Blue Punisher

Blue, roughly triangular, Punisher logo

Weight: 443mg

Estimated to contain 200mg MDMA

blue punisher - Copy
Blue Mario

Pale blue, round, Mario Brothers face stamped on it

Weight: 430mg

Estimated to contain ~180mg methylone and 100mg caffeine.

3 blue mario adjusted - Copy
Dark Green square

Dark green, square-ish pill, logo can’t be made out

Weight: 245mg

Estimated to contain 90mg mephedrone

5 dark green meph adjusted - Copy

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.

Suspected high-dose MDMA pills tested by KnowYourStuffNZ 2018/2019 season

KnowYourStuffNZ has found pills containing potentially dangerous high doses of MDMA during the 2018/2019 festival season. These pills were found at events throughout New Zealand.

They should be approached with caution. Users are advised that the only way to guarantee safety is to not take them. For those who do choose to take them, our recommendation is to only take a third of a pill at most, and wait at least an hour before considering taking any more.

These pills have been tested to contain MDMA and a variety of fillers. No other psychoactives have been detected in these, despite anecdotal reports that they also contain ketamine.

A common dose of MDMA is around 80-120 milligrams, depending upon a user’s body weight. Some of the pills that KnowYourStuffNZ have tested this summer contained up to four doses in one pill.

Taking too much MDMA can result in a very unpleasant experience, health risks, and sometimes even death. If you or someone you know has taken one of these pills and experiences dizziness and vomiting, a sharp rise in body temperature, muscle cramping, heart palpitations, seizures, or unconsciousness, seek medical attention immediately.

Please note that the amount of MDMA present is an estimate only as our technology cannot directly measure dosage or purity. The spectrometer can provide a rough percentage of MDMA content in a sample and we use this combined with the weight of the pill to reach these estimates. The estimated dosage should be treated as an indication only and we recommend always erring on the side of caution.

Suspected high dose pills include:

Purple Defqon

Purple/pink, round, logo of Defqon festival one side only

Weight: 320mg

Estimated to contain 150-200mg MDMA

Defqon IMG_20190222_164253 balanced sheared

Colour and size reference chart
(1 square= 1cm2)
Pink Porsche

Bright pink, shield shape, Porsche logo one side

Weight: 350mg

Estimated to contain 200-250mg MDMA

PP example pic
Pink Maple Leaf

Pink, Canadian maple leaf shape, ‘D2’ on one side, ‘ICON’ on the other

Weight: 330mg

Estimated to contain 200-300mg MDMA

Pink Maple leaf Icon side - Copy

Pink Maple leaf D2 side - Copy

Yellow Rolex

Bright yellow, Rolex crown logo shape, crown stamp one side

Weight: 350mg

Estimated to contain 200-300mg MDMA

No photo available
Green/grey Skull

Green and/or grey, unusual cylindrical shape, skull stamped on one end, crown on the other

Weight: 600mg

Estimated to contain 400mg MDMA

No photo available
Purple Tomorrowland

Purple pill, Tomorrowland logo

Weight: 470mg

Estimated to contain 200-300mg MDMA

No photo available
Grey Pharaoh

Blue/grey/purple, (shape?), Egyptian head on one side, “Warning, 240mg” on other.

Weight: 500mg

Estimated to contain 200-300mg MDMA

No photo available
Blue or Yellow Visa

Blue or yellow  pill, rectangular with rounded edges, Visa logo

Reported as high dose but no weight or content estimate available. Approach with caution.

No photo available

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Mid-season update – what drugs are at festivals this summer

This season, much like last summer, has seen more n-ethylpentylone and more high dose MDMA.

N-ethylpentylone has become the main adulterant in MDMA and our main substance of concern. N-ethylpentylone is in the cathinone family of drugs, sometimes referred to as “bath salts.” In previous years we’ve seen all sorts of different substances sold as MDMA. This year vast majority of substitutions have been only n-ethylpentylone, a drug that we’ve heard called “a shit time for a long time.”

If a sample is presumed to be MDMA but tests show that it’s not, it is most likely n-ethylpentylone. A new development has been a number of samples of both pressed pills and crystal which contain MDMA mixed with n-ethylpentylone, a combination which led to us issuing an alert just after New Year about blue crown pills. These mixtures will appear to be MDMA in a reagent test, but could lead to unexpected consequences including anxiety, heart palpitations, and insomnia. N-ethylpentylone has been implicated in two deaths overseas and numerous mass hospitalisations, including in New Zealand. You can read more about n-ethylpentylone on our website.

We have also seen a continuation of the pressed pills containing 2-3 doses of MDMA. Pink Porsches, Green Guccis, Yellow Rolexes, and Blue Louis Vuitton pills are all still around, and should be approached with extreme caution. We also have some evidence that these pills are now being copied. Copycat pills could contain anything, including toothpaste, so we recommend testing even with a ‘known’ press. New high-dose pills we have tested include a pink pill shaped like a Canadian maple leaf that is estimated to contain 3 standard doses of MDMA. Even taking less than a whole pill has resulted in people needing medical attention this summer, so treat these with caution.

There is also a lot of supposedly MDMA crystal around that tests as MDMA. Care should be taken with this – even when a substance is what you are hoping for, it’s still not “safe”. Measuring doses by eye is a particularly unsafe practice in the current climate, as is snorting.

We recommend approaching even tested substances with extreme caution. Start small – half or less than the dose you would normally take – and start slow – wait at least an hour to gauge the effects before considering  having more. We also recommend against snorting these substances. It’s damaging to your nose, the effects will wear off faster, and you may be be tempted to take more. It’s more harmful and more expensive, so if you are taking anything, oral is the safer route.

This summer we have also been asked by event medics to let people know that they shouldn’t be afraid to seek them out if they do get into difficulties. The medics want you to know they are there to help, and they will do it in confidence. If you are at all concerned about your wellbeing at an event, please go see them.

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ALERT: Blue pills containing n-ethylpentylone and MDMA

cropped-knowyourstuffnz-logo-june-2017.png

N-ethylpentylone found in pills obtained as MDMA

KnowYourStuffNZ tested pills over the New Year and found a particularly dangerous substance mixed with MDMA. Five pills from separate sources were tested and all were found to contain low amounts of MDMA and potentially dangerous levels of n-ethylpentylone.

N-ethylpentylone is a stimulant from the cathinone family, also called “bath salts”. It may produce short-lived euphoria followed by a long period of overstimulation including racing heart, high blood pressure, anxiety, overheating, and inability to sleep for up to 36 hours.  In large doses it has been associated with deaths overseas and hospitalisations in New Zealand. Because of the high redose compulsion and low active dose, it is very easy to overdose. You can read more about n-ethylpentylone at our website.

The identified pills are pale blue and round with slight speckling and a four-pointed crown stamped on one side.  

MDMA NEP NYE 2018

When tested with Marquis and Mandelin reagents they show the black colour change associated with MDMA. Testing with the more reliable FT-IR spectroscopy has confirmed these pills also contain high levels of n-ethylpentylone. The amount of n-ethylpentylone present may vary between pills. Users of single pills have reported anxiety and unpleasant experiences which may be potentially dangerous.

REAGENT TESTING WILL NOT REVEAL THIS ADULTERATION.

It is likely that these pills have spread throughout New Zealand, therefore any substance that looks like this should be treated as dangerous regardless of your location.  

N-ethylpentylone was also detected in powders and crystals of various colours. In total, approximately 15% of “MDMA” tested over New Years was found to contain n-ethylpentylone. Please approach all untested substances with extreme caution:

  • safest of all, do not take it
  • if consuming, start small, start slow – take a third or less, and wait at least an hour before having more
  • do not snort or inject
  • do not mix with other substances, including alcohol
  • do not take alone

If you think you may have inadvertently consumed n-ethylpentylone and are concerned, please contact your nearest medical service and be honest about what you believe you have taken.  

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

 

Nosebleeds are the least of your worries – why snorting is a bad idea

Know Your Stuff-36

Remember when you were four and your Mum used to tell you not to put things up your nose?  Turns out lots of kiwis didn’t listen. According to Adam Winstock of the Global Drug Survey, 30% of kiwis who use MDMA insufflate (snort) it. That’s nearly twice the global average.

There’s a general view out there that snorting MDMA gives you more ‘bang for buck’ because when snorted the high comes on faster and more intensely.  However it also wears off faster, leading to higher likelihood of redosing – so over the course of an evening a user may end up taking more than usual, which is both expensive and risky. Snorting also carries its own set of risks:

  • Putting dry, potentially irritant powders on the nasal lining can lead to injury, loss of sense of smell, and long term respiratory problems.
  • When you snort a substance much of it goes directly to the bloodstream, bypassing the stomach and liver filters. This is what leads to the faster, more intense high.  However this lack of filtering can also exacerbate the negative effects of the drug, such as anxiety and nausea.
  • Faster routes of administration are associated with higher risk of forming dependence.
  • What if it’s not the drug you think it is?

This last one is a real concern in New Zealand. By now it’s old news that cathinone substitution is an issue here. We’ve talked about it at length this summer. We’ve found cathinones in samples presumed to be MDMA and in ones obtained as cocaine, both substances commonly snorted by kiwis.

Remember how we said above that a faster, more intense high can also exacerbate the negative effects? If the ‘MDMA’ is actually n-ethylpentylone and you snort 100mg of it, you’ve just bypassed the stomach and liver filters on a triple dose and you’re most likely in for a faster, more intense, up to 36-hour-long very unpleasant time that may well land you in hospital or worse. 


We hear this story far too often – someone snorts what they think is MDMA and then comes to us with a list of scary symptoms ending with “That definitely wasn’t MDMA.” The bottom line is that these people are lucky to be alive. While they have probably learned their lesson, there are still many people out there who snort powders without knowing how risky it is.

To lower your chances of death, remember the following:

  • Listen to your Mum – don’t put random stuff up your nose
  • Don’t let your friends put random stuff up their noses either
  • Unless it’s been tested, it’s *all* random stuff.

Stay safe out there NZ.

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.