Roadmaps to Regulation: MDMA

As we enter the fourth decade of MDMA’s widespread use, new thinking is needed on how to better control production and distribution, and on how to reduce the risks associated with its consumption. There is growing evidence to support reorienting drug policy away from an ideologically driven criminal justice-led model to one rooted in pragmatic health and harm reduction principles. Current policy is not meeting its goal of reducing harms, and greater control of MDMA production, distribution, purchase, and consumption is needed in order to prevent MDMA-related emergencies.

This policy proposal examines the acute, sub-acute, and chronic harms related to MDMA use in detail. We examine the production, distribution, purchase, and consumption of the drug; related risks and harms; and the impact prohibition has on these, as well as the potential impact of alternative policies. Crucially, our evidence shows that most harms associated with MDMA use arise from its unregulated status as an illegal drug, and that any risks inherent to MDMA could be more effectively mitigated within a legally regulated market.


This policy proposal rests on the following five principles which should underpin all evidence-informed drug policy and practice:

  • Promoting public health and reducing harm
  • Safeguarding vulnerable populations, including children and young people
  • Supporting human rights
  • Promoting social justice
  • Supporting participatory democracy


Roadmaps to Regulation: MDMA has two overarching interlinked objectives:

  • To highlight that the harms associated with MDMA use are predominantly related to its prohibition;
  • To propose an alternative regulatory model that would reduce the harms associated with criminalising MDMA use and minimise the risks associated with its use more generally.

The report outlines, for the first time, detailed recommendations for drug policy reform in order to better control the production, distribution, purchase, and consumption of MDMA products. Reform, and the ensuing reduction in MDMA-related harms, will not happen overnight. The changes outlined, which culminate in a strictly-regulated, legal market for MDMA, would need to be phased in gradually and closely monitored throughout, in order to ensure that health and social outcomes are properly evaluated.


Dr Karenza Moore is a Lecturer in Criminology at Salford University, UK. Over the last 15 years Karenza has published widely on drug use in night-time economies, drug markets, drug policy, drugs and technologies, recovery from drug dependency, and the ethics of drug research. Karenza is best known for her work on post-rave dance music cultures and on emergent drug trends, including the use of ketamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone. Her most recent publications explored targeted population surveys on drug use in recreational settings across Europe. She is currently writing a paper on MDMA intoxication and resonance theory.

Hattie Wells is the Policy Projects Coordinator for the Beckley Foundation. She has a degree in anthropology from the London School of Economics and an MSc in ethnobotany from the University of Kent. She has worked for a number of NGOs, on human rights issues, conservation, sustainable livelihoods and drug policy reform, and carried out ethnobotanical fieldwork in Namibia. She has spent close to twenty years independently researching the cultural and therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs, focusing particularly on the administration of ibogaine as an addiction interrupter – a topic on which she has published and often presented. A passionate believer in the therapeutic potential of many currently prohibited psychoactive drugs, and having witnessed first-hand the negative repercussions of drug users being criminalised, Hattie is committed to lobbying for drug policy reform. In addition to her activism and work for the Beckley Foundation, she is an Executive Director of Breaking Convention, Europe’s largest conference on psychedelic consciousness.

Amanda Feilding is the founder and executive director of the Beckley Foundation, and is widely recognised as one of the driving forces behind the current psychedelic research renaissance. By establishing key research collaborations with some of the world’s most prestigious universities, she has propelled the field forward over the last 20 years, conducting several landmark studies, such as the world’s first LSD brain imaging study.

Amanda set up the Beckley Foundation in 1998 with two main aims: firstly, to investigate consciousness and its changing states and secondly, to reform global drug policy by developing evidence-based, health-oriented, harm-reducing, cost-effective drug policies which respect human rights.

Through her work with the Beckley Foundation, Amanda is bridging the gap between science and policy, allowing them to complement and inform one another, ultimately harnessing our knowledge of the benefits of many prohibited substances to maximise human potential.

As part of the Beckley Foundation’s Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform, Amanda convened the Roadmaps to Regulation series, which include: Cannabis, Psychedelics, MDMA, and New Psychoactive Substances.

Roadmaps to Regulation: MDMA in the Press