The 'ketone' approach has
numerous reported sub variants. The basic scheme is the oxidation
plant oil safrole (1-allyl-3,4-methylenedioxybenzene) into a ketone
(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl-2-propanone), which is then condensed with
and reduced to the final MDMA product.
Step 1: Peroxyacid oxidation (requires isomerization
of safrole) or Wacker oxidation (catalytic oxidation) produces the ketone
Step 2: Reversible imine formation (occurs spontaneously
when the ketone is placed in solution with methylamine.)
Step 3: Reduction (via hydrides, amalgams, or electrical
cells) or catalytic hydrogenation permanently converts the imine to MDMA.
Safrole is found in various
"essential oils", the most famous of which is sassafras oil,
which can contain as much as 90% safrole. Safrole,
the 'ketone', and of course MDMA itself are all restricted in the US
and most other countries.
The wholesale price for safrole is about $7 a pound...an amount
that could produce perhaps 5,000 MDMA pills worth on the order of
at ultimate US retail prices.
"So long as large sums of money are involved
- and they are bound to be if drugs are illegal - it is literally
to stop the traffic, or even to make a serious reduction in its scope."
Friedman, Nobel Prize winning economist.