3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, or MDA, is a psychedelic hallucinogenic drug and empathogen/entactogen of the phenethylamine family. It was first synthesized by G. Mannish and W. Jacobson in 1910. There are about 20 different synthetic routes described in the literature for its preparation.
A recreational dose of MDA is commonly between 80 and 160mg. The “R” optical isomer is more potent than the “S” optical isomer. Although there is some debate, the duration of the drug is now generally believed to be roughly 6 to 10 hours(In the late 90s, Shulgin changed his opinion of the duration to 3-6 hours). The effects of the drug are quite similar to those of MDMA (Ecstacy), including empathogen/entactogenic effects, though typically less intense than a similar dosage of MDMA. Because of these effects, MDA was called the “hug drug” and was alleged to stand for “Mellow Drug of America” in the 1960s. Some users feel that MDA has more psychedelic or hallucinogenic qualities than MDMA.
The toxicity of MDA is not fully known. The LD50 in mice has been reported as 92mg/kg by intraperitoneal injection. Erowid lists the fatality rate at roughly 2 in 100,000 users. MDA is considered to be about 10x more neuro-toxic than its methylated cousin MDMA.