Ecstasy in Pop Culture: A Highly Subjective Timeline

Remember back in the late ’90s, when people were panicking over the possibility that MDMA was poking holes in everyone’s brain and making a whole generation of teenagers stupid? Well, your ability to recall that moment in time is a further testament to the value of a new study that found users “showed no signs of cognitive impairment attributable to drug use: ecstasy use did not decrease mental ability.” There is some fine print, and it’s not like ecstasy doesn’t have other risks or side effects, but it’s also a blow against drug-related hysteria. With that in mind, now seems like a great time to relive some of ecstasy’s greatest — and silliest — pop culture moments.

First recorded recreational use of MDMA (1970)

Did you know that ecstasy is over 100 years old? MDMA was originally synthesized around the turn of the century and patented by Merck (in Germany) in 1912. Although it was tested on animals in the ’50s, it wasn’t until late the mid-’60s that researcher Alexander Shulgin and a few others began making MDMA and testing it on humans (including themselves). 1970 saw the first case report of recreational ecstasy use — but it wasn’t available on the streets until 1977.