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Special thanks to these Bluelighters: David, dress, easy e, ewoud, Ian, and johnboy

Thanks also to the testing kit manufacturers/retailers who replied to my emails and provided information.

From BL FAQ By Grugz with modifications to conform with template


What is PMA?

PMA stands for para-methoxyamphetamine. It is also known as 4 MA, or 4-methoxyamphetamine.

At low doses (<40mg), PMA will cause stimulation, mild visuals, pupil dilation, nystagmus, altered consciousness, nausea, and elevated body temperature. Basically, it produces many of the same initial effects as MDMA.

At slightly higher doses (60+mg), PMA can cause a sudden and dangerous increase in body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Slang Terms

Death, Chicken powder

What are the effects of PMA?


  • Increase in energy (stimulation)
  • Minor visuals


  • General change in consciousness (as with most psychoactives)
  • Pupil dilation
  • Erratic eye movements


  • muscle spasms
  • increased blood temperature
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased body temperature (fever)
  • increased pulse rate
  • labored breathing
  • nausea & vomiting
  • convulsions, coma & death

Why is PMA being sold as MDMA?

PMA is being sold as MDMA because it is easier and safer to make - the precursors are not as strictly controlled/watched. Also, the effects of a low PMA dose can be confused with the effects of MDMA. This makes PMA seem to be a good substitute for manufacturers who do not want to make MDMA.

Sasha Shulgin also offers this take:

"There are some reports of safrole being sizable components of Star Anise Oil (Illicium verum, I. parviflorum) but the major compound in these Oils is anethol, not safrole. And if Anise Oil were to be used in error as a presumed source of safrole, this material would give rise to PMA, which has been shown to be very toxic. PMA has been seen as an "Ecstasy" substitute, and I wonder if the uninformed use of Anise Oil as a presumed safrole source, could have been the origin of PMA in the Ecstasy rave scene."

PMA and testing kits

Note – this is the authoritative list of reactions to reagents. This list has been confirmed with testing kit retailers and other knowledgeable and trustworthy people.

  • Marquis – No reaction
  • Mecke – No reaction
  • Mandelin – Dark green
  • Simon – No reaction
  • Robadope – Reddish/Purple


What is PMA’s legal status?

All information for this section was taken from Erowid’s Drug Law & Policy page:
Australia – Schedule III (2002)
Canada – Schedule III (2002)
UK – Schedule I, Class A (2001)
US – Schedule I (2001)

In what ways is PMA dangerous?

PMA is dangerous in its own right due the sharp dose-response curve that it exhibits - a relatively moderate increase in dose can produce dangerous (and possibly lethal) effects. This, combined with its action as a cardiopulmonary stimulant and MAOI, makes PMA extremely dangerous when taken in combination, especially with other amphetamines.

PMA is dangerous in practice because it has been sold in pill form as MDMA. The habit of many MDMA users to consume multiple doses at once is what has lent PMA its “killer” image in recent years.

Several deaths have been associated with PMA sold as MDMA, causing a stir in the media:

  • Amphetamine derivative fatalities in SA - is 'Ecstasy' the culprit?
  • Carolyn (The Glasgow Herald, Australia)
  • Teen Drug Alert (Chicago Sun-Times, USA)
  • New, More Dangerous Drug Threatens Teens (Fox News)
  • Cops Probe Link Between 2 Teens Deaths (Chicago Tribune, USA)
  • The Poisoning of Suburbia (
  • New, Fatal Imported Drug Hits Nightclubs (Orlando Sentinel, USA)
  • Deadly Form of Ecstasy Seized (The Observer, UK)

PMA and MDxx

MDMA has been combined with PMA in order to fool testing kits while minimising manufacturing costs. A small amount of MDMA is added to produce the instant black reaction, in order to fool test kits.

A way to combat this is by using the EZ-Test Xtreme (or other comparable testing kit), which combines two reagents – Simon’s and Robadope’s. The Simon’s reagent will indicate the presence of MDxx; while Robadope’s will indicate PMA.

However, the notion that PMA is combined with MDMA in order to enhance the positive effects or 'make you roll harder' is wrong; as stated earlier, PMA in combination is even more dangerous than PMA alone.

Background and Chemistry

How does PMA work?

PMA causes a release of serotonin and also acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. This dual action contributes to the dangerous nature of PMA.

Sources and other PMA-related links