ARCHIVED Skip navigation. To Contents     To Previous Page     To Next Page     To Publications Page     To Home Page

Link to Home Page. National Drug Intelligence Center
California Drug Threat Assessment Update
May 2002

Other Dangerous Drugs

The use of club drugs such as MDMA, GHB, and ketamine and hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP is increasing. Teenagers and young adults most frequently abuse these drugs. The diversion and abuse of pharmaceuticals are also serious and growing concerns in the state.



Most MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) available in California is produced outside the United States, typically in laboratories in the Netherlands and Belgium, and transported through express mail services and by couriers on commercial airlines. Russian and Israeli DTOs smuggle most of the MDMA currently available in the state. These organizations generally transport the drug to California, primarily Los Angeles, using couriers on commercial air flights. However, law enforcement reporting reveals that MDMA increasingly is being transported from Europe to Mexico and then smuggled across the Southwest border into California. Once in the state, MDMA is distributed regionally and throughout the country.

MDMA, also known as ecstasy, Adam, XTC, E, and X, is a stimulant and low-level hallucinogen. Sometimes called the hug drug, MDMA purportedly helps abusers to be more "in touch" with others and "opens channels of communication." However, abuse of the drug can cause psychological problems similar to those associated with methamphetamine and cocaine abuse including confusion, depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, and paranoia. The physical effects can include muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, blurred vision, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. MDMA abuse also can cause a marked increase in body temperature leading to muscle breakdown, kidney failure, cardiovascular system failure, stroke, or seizure as reported in some fatal cases. Research suggests that MDMA abuse may result in long-term and sometimes permanent damage to parts of the brain that are critical to thought and memory.

MDMA typically is sold and abused at raves and nightclubs. However, the drug is increasingly available at a number of other venues including open-air markets, schools, colleges, and private parties. According to DEA, MDMA tablets, with a purity of 85 percent to 95 percent, sell for approximately $7 each at the wholesale level and $20 each at the retail level.

To Top      To Contents



Young adult Caucasian males--particularly college students--are the primary distributors of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) throughout the state. GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy, soap, scoop, Georgia homeboy, grievous bodily harm, liquid x, and goop, is a central nervous system depressant. The drug typically is used by young adults in many cities throughout the state and has been used in the commission of drug-facilitated sexual assaults because of its sedative properties. According to DEA, a dose of GHB sells for $5 to $20 at the retail level.



Ketamine is smuggled into California from Mexico generally by local independent dealers. According to DEA, the drug is often sold at raves for $20 per dose (0.2 gram) and is generally abused by adolescents and young adults. Ketamine is an injectable anesthetic that, when taken in large doses, causes reactions similar to those experienced with PCP. Ketamine has also been used in the commission of drug-facilitated sexual assaults because of its sedative properties.



The hallucinogen LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is produced by a small, tightly knit group of chemists in Northern California and is distributed in the state and throughout the country via package delivery services and couriers in private vehicles. LSD is readily available on college campuses and in suburban middle and high schools and, according to DEA, sells for $5 to $10 per dose. LSD often is applied to blotter paper and candy and disguised as breath freshener drops.



The hallucinogen PCP (phencyclidine) available in California is primarily produced and distributed by Los Angeles-based African American street gangs. However, law enforcement officials in Monterey, San Benito, San Jose, Santa Cruz, and Watsonville have noted an increase in the availability of PCP crystal--the pure powder form of the drug--that is being produced in the state by Mexican nationals. PCP is commonly smoked in cigarettes that have been dipped into the liquid form of the drug. According to DEA, one PCP-laced cigarette sells for $20 to $30 at the retail level. PCP users often display unpredictable and violent behavior, posing a threat to law enforcement officers and others.


Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals, particularly hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) and oxycodone (OxyContin), are diverted, distributed, and abused in many areas of the state. Many pharmaceuticals that are controlled in the United States are easily obtainable in Mexico at pharmacies where records of transactions are not kept and prescriptions are not required. 

To Top      To Contents     To Previous Page     To Next Page

To Publications Page     To Home Page

End of page.