Illicit manufacturing process

The chemical production of methamphetamine and amphetamine is detailed in a flow chart below. After pure methamphetamine and amphetamine are produced, they have the chemical characteristics of bases and must be mixed with acids to produce a salt. For example, hydrochloric acid or sulphate acid is added to the amphetmaine base to produce amphetamine hydrochloride to produce a salt. Pure amphetamine and amphetamine hydrochloride have the same pharmacological properties even if their chemical forms and physical properties (such as solubility, melting point, weight per drug molecule, and pH) are different. However, the salt form of amphetamine is necessary to convert the drug into water soluble form to permit absorption of the drug into the blood stream.

In their base form, amphetamines are oily substances that are less stable chemically and physically, and are often more difficult to crystallize than their salt counterpart. Therefore most amphetamines are marketed in their crystalline form. The term “amphetamine” is commonly used to refer to both amphetamine in its base and salt form.

The precursors and intermediate products in the manufacturing process of MDMA are outlined below. Note that the term ‘ecstasy’ specifies the tablet form of MDMA, although it is occasionally found in crystalline form or liquid form.