Impurity analysis of MDA synthesized from unrestricted compounds

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Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) is classified as an illegal substance in many countries and jurisdictions around the world. Its popularity for illicit use is due to its stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. MDA can be synthesized from starting materials and reagents that are uncontrolled. These syntheses are attractive to clandestine laboratories as they can source large quantities of reagents without causing suspicion or risk of detection. Procedures for these syntheses require very little synthetic chemistry knowledge and are readily available online. Examination of the chemical profile of products from these syntheses can provide information about the starting material and synthetic pathway. This provides valuable information regarding linking cases, and tracking and limiting the supply of reagents used in clandestine laboratories. This thesis examines the impurity profile of two synthetic pathways to MDA, from helional and piperonal, both of which involve few restricted compounds and would therefore be ideal to clandestine chemists. Helional is a fragrant oil available for wholesale purchase for home perfume makers and piperonal can be extracted from pepper. This thesis focuses on the organic impurities from side reactions between precursors, intermediates, and reagents, or reaction by-products. The products of each step were analysed using proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (¹HNMR) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS). The results were examined to determine the identity of the impurities and to determine the presence of route specific impurities. The results of this investigation show the identity of multiple impurities in the free base product of MDA synthesized from both helional and piperonal. Piperonal and MDP2P were shown to be common impurities between the syntheses. Most of the impurities identified within the helional product had been seen and recorded previously as impurities from other methods and none of the impurities carried through to the HCl product. Therefore, no route specific impurities were identified for the synthesis of MDA from helional.
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