MDMA is growing in popularity in New Zealand and making its way into high schools
Over a million pills were seized by police and customs in 2020, and the latest wastewater data indicates that we consume almost the same amount of MDMA per week as we consume methamphetamine.
It’s often called the “love drug,” and it’s an increasingly familiar element on the holiday scene. MDMA is known for its euphoric effects – and Kiwis love it very much.
Police say some see it as a milder drug, without the gang ties and stigma associated with methamphetamine.
“I think we are seeing a ‘culture change’ where MDMA is now seen as a socially acceptable drug to use,” says Deputy Inspector Blair MacDonald.
With high prices, New Zealand is an attractive market for importers.
“A kilogram of MDMA purchased on the international market would cost around $ 4,000. Once you get him back to New Zealand, you’re looking at between $ 80,000 and $ 100,000, ”says Detective Inspector MacDonald.
The amount of MDMA seized by authorities from 2018 to 2019 increased by 560%.
Last year over a million pills were seized by police and customs and even with a decrease due to COVID-19, it was still more than double the amount seized in 2018.
Known as “MD”, “molly” or “ecstasy,” it’s mainly imported from Europe via the dark web, then sold locally on social media or encrypted apps like Snapchat and Discord.
According to police, Kiwis pay around $ 200 for a gram of powder or $ 40 for a single pill or “cap”.
“We understand cost is a big factor, so at $ 40 for a ‘line’ or ‘pill’ it’s a lot cheaper than an expensive night out maybe on the town,” the Detective Inspector said. MacDonald.
This “cheaper” class B drug is more accessible than ever, police say, and is even found in high schools in Aotearoa.
Newshub spoke to three 17-year-olds who say MDMA is now the norm for many.
“Well, we’re not allowed to drink at our prom and a comment earlier today was actually ‘we’ll have another great time, we’ll just do a line before we come’.”
They say some of their peers take it most weekends, teens as young as 14 have tried it and it’s easy to get hold of.
“I saw pictures on the stories of people on Snapchat who were just selling and you would come back 20 minutes later and it would be gone.”
A new police report says part of the pull is there are no calories or hangovers from the drugs, but these teens say there’s another motivator.
“We know people who take him to ‘drive sober’. If you get pulled over while on MD you are not ‘illegal’, as if they weren’t testing you for it, you can. draw. ”
Bar owners are also seeing more and more drugged punters in the evenings.
“There are more people using it, especially before going out. But also while they go out at night. You also see if there is a rave in town.”
Wellington’s Trinity Group has three bars and restaurants across the city and says on some nights half of its customers could be under the influence.
“We’re a little surprised at how quickly someone can look good, not be good, and we know they haven’t been drinking.”
As more and more people use it, some experts claim that the damage associated with pure MDMA is relatively low.
The problem starts when people take what they think is “MD”, but it’s actually something else.
St John Auckland Central Territory Director Braden Stark says he usually sees “hallucinations of anxiety, seizures, nausea, vomiting or in the worst case, death.”
These frightening symptoms are often caused by a substance known as “synthetic cathinones”.
It’s usually sold to subconscious partygoers as “MDMA”, but it’s more potent and wears off quickly, so people take more of it, and that’s when they overdose.
St John sees overdoses often and Newshub was with paramedics when called in to do one in Auckland’s CBD. At 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday, they find an 18-year-old woman losing consciousness and losing consciousness. When she comes to herself, she bangs her head and grinds her jaw.
Paramedics were told she took lorazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, but St John says it’s impossible to know.
“We don’t often get told what people are taking, often they don’t know. We don’t know what substance they’re taking, it can be anything,” Stark said.
An unknown who makes this illegal and unregulated drug all the more dangerous at a time when its popularity is skyrocketing.