Sometimes it feels like the drug world is a continuous game of cat and mouse. The law being the cat, and the drug-makers being the mouse. Every time a substance is banned, another synthetic one will pop up in raving culture, that is supposedly better and legal. That’s exactly what we have with the designer drug: 3-MMC.
Short for 3-Methylmethcathinone, this synthetic stimulant is part of the cathinone class of chemicals, with effects similar to those of amphetamines and MDMA. There are a lot of disparate opinions surrounding this substance, with some users claiming it has the high of ecstasy, without the comedown. However, there’s also very little scientific research into the drug. We’re going to be delving into the chemistry of 3-MMC, hearing first-hand accounts from users, and figuring out whether this drug has some sort of magical powers that others do not. Let’s go.
There’s no doubt that drug culture is very hard to keep up with nowadays. New, cool and intriguing substances are popping and then slowly diminishing from people’s awareness all of the time. A lot of these substances are designer drugs. Designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs or research chemicals, are substances created in a laboratory to mimic the effects of existing drugs while avoiding legal restrictions or detection in standard drug tests. These drugs are designed by altering the chemical structure of known compounds or creating entirely new compounds that interact with the body’s receptors in ways similar to traditional drugs like opioids, stimulants, or hallucinogens. Science Direct writes:
“Designer drugs of abuse exist in a dynamic market with new drugs appearing all the time. Based on their chemical structures, designer drugs can be classified into amphetamine types… It is important to stay at the forefront of drug detection techniques and strategies to allow speedy identification of new substances as they emerge.”
Each new substance will have a moment of being popular and – in a sense – legal, until eventually it is discovered by law enforcement and cracked down on. Designer drugs are chemically modified versions of existing drugs or entirely new compounds. These alterations are often made to evade existing drug laws and regulations. By changing the chemical structure, manufacturers hope to create substances that are not explicitly controlled by legal frameworks. At first, when these new substances are easy to access and legal, they become increasingly popular as party drugs. However, the moment they become illegal and difficult to access like any other substance, people will often return to the usual favourite banned substances. These include: cocaine, MDMA and ketamine. The types of ‘new’ designer substances that have stood the test of time include: spice, crystal meth and 2CB. There is always a worry and an excitement with designer drugs, which is due to the chemical structure change that happens to them. This alteration can either be incredibly dangerous, or can lead to a new and incredible effect that no other recreational substance has ever had. It’s two sides of the same coin.
What is 3-MMC?
In the last few years, 3-MMC has broken into the limelight. You may have heard of it, you may have not, but it’s certainly been raising some eyebrows. Let’s see what this synthetic substance actually is. 3-MMC is a synthetic compound that shares structural similarities with both cathinone and methcathinone, two substances known for their stimulant properties. It acts as a releasing agent for neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, leading to enhanced mood, increased energy, and heightened alertness. The chemical structure of 3-MMC has evolved as an attempt to create a legal alternative to substances like MDMA and amphetamines.
How It’s Taken
Users take 3-MMC much the same as MDMA. It comes, most commonly, in a white powder that can be bombed (wrapped in a rizla and swallowed), snorted or poured in a drink. Sometimes 3-MMC can also be sold in a pre-made capsule that can then be swallowed.
Effects of 3-MMC have been reported to include:
- Distorted sense of time and vision
- Increased heart rate
- Increased empathy and affection
- Increased sensations
- No comedown? (we’ll analyse this later)
The Rise of 3-MMC
The rise of 3-MMC has been recent, existing as a ‘legal’ designer drug version of 4-MMC (mephedrone). The Face writes:
“It was one of the most popular drugs at English summer festivals last year, with research finding that 45 percent of substances sold as “MDMA” last year in fact contained cathinones. One of the most prevalent cathinones was 3‑MMC.”
Supposedly, at the Lost Village UK festival, the substance was being sold as Louis Vuitton pills, pretending to be ecstasy. Due to covid restrictions in 2020-2022, the demand for MDMA was not being matched by the lack of supply. Because of this, 3-MMC was being sold instead. This was occurring all around Europe. In 2022, the European Commission made it their goal to ban the substance of 3-MMC, after reporting its increase in supply around the continent. The Face goes on to write:
“Many countries in the EU are just banning 3‑MMC now, so this has become part of the bizarre game of whack-a-mole between the law-makers and underground chemists. One substance gets banned, another pops up in its place like an unelected Tory prime minister.”
So whilst it’s rather comical to watch this game of whack-a-mole, it is important to understand what 3-MMC actually feels like. You can list off a bunch of supposed effects that a drug might have, but really what counts is people’s genuine, real-life accounts. Does this drug genuinely have no comedown?
What 3-MMC Feels Like
As we’ve heard, 3-MMC has very similar effects to MDMA. Due to this, some have made the case that the drug has the euphoria of ecstasy, without any of the next-day comedown. Of course, if that was to be true, it would be a serious game changer. I myself was attending festivals in London in 2021/2, during the supposed MDMA-shortage period, and remembered friend’s talking about this new mandy-like substance. All they said to me was that it felt slightly less potent than MDMA, which annoyed quite a few people if I recall. Vice reports speaking to a user of 3-MMC, who warns:
“Psychologically, 3-MMC can make you feel euphoric, sociable and increase your libido. However, it also has side effects: insomnia, anxiety and even psychosis… “It’s a FOMO drug,” Giraud explains. “It completely messes up with your notion of pleasure. It’s as if you were about to cum, but you never actually do.”
What this user claims, is that 3-MMC does not quite live up to the euphoric sensation of mandy. Meaning that you are constantly in that limbo stage, waiting for the satisfaction to come, but it never really does. Maybe there’s something to this. If 3-MMC is a slightly less potent version of MDMA, then it would make sense to assume that the next-day comedown would also be less potent too. Here are two accounts from Reddit users:
“I didn’t think 3mmc had one. I plan on using one last time for a festival in 2 weeks and then I will only use it monthly. It’s incredibly underrated, I saw much negativity towards it, but it was so unique. I think it’s great when you want to have an mdma like experience, without the mdma comedown and high serotonin depletion”
“I almost feel as if I’m in an afterglow today, after using for 2 days and only sleeping for 7 hours… I don’t ever do stuff like this often though, so maybe that’s why.”
For those unaware, the term ‘afterglow’ describes a pleasant feeling that remains after something equally pleasant has just happened. In a sense, it’s the opposite of a comedown. However, this is not the only reputation of 3-MMC. Actually, it has also had quite a lot of bad press too. The Face describes its effects quite vividly:
“Think: the stimulant effects of MDMA but minus the rushy empathy, the horniness of cocaine without the ego, and the longevity of speed but with a worse comedown. It feels like halfway between ecstasy and coke but it lasts a lot longer. With clean MDMA, you can expect to sleep when you get home from a club. With 3‑MMC, you’re not going to sleep for a while. This is a drug that’ll keep you in the club until that traumatic moment when they turn the house lights on and it feels like your brain is dribbling out of your eyeballs.”
Does this not sound like the polar opposite of the accounts that we’ve heard so far? Reddit users also go on to agree with the idea of this end-of-the-night feeling:
“3-MMC has some of the worst comedowns of any drug I’ve tried (and I’ve tried quite a few). It’s only redeemed slightly by the fact that the comedown doesn’t last too long”
“I’ve experienced 1 of the worse comedowns from 3mmc. Gotta add that I used to binge for 2 days with 5 g’s whenever I took 3m. 3mmc can have gnarly comedowns.”
With any reasonably new designer substance, it’s really difficult to find any sustained truths of the effects. As is the case with this game of cat and mouse, the mouse has to constantly find different ways to dodge from the hands of the law. Thus, these varying effects could be due to structural differences in the substances that these users are taking. Who knows? What is clear however is that people experience all drugs in their own way, and whilst some people get incredibly bad comedowns, others do not. This has always been the way of the recreational drug world. It is incredibly hard to know, for certain, how a substance will make you feel – especially when it’s fresh in the game. So does 3-MMC have no comedown? Well, reports seem to suggest yes and no. But maybe you know something we don’t? Tell us your stories.