A snap-shot of salient dates in the history of MDMA, with related weblinks.
1912: First synthesis of MDMA by pharmaceutical company Merck, who were developing drugs to control blood pressure. They patent it only as a chemical intermediate 'for other products of potential pharmacological value'.
1953-4: US army-sponsored study into the effects of MDMA and seven other psychoactive drugs on animals, as a possible chemical warfare agent.
1977: Ecstasy classified as a class A drug in the UK under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
1985: US Drug Enforcement Administration class ecstasy as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act – deeming it as having no medical use and a high potential for abuse.
1987: 'Second summer of love' marks peak in popularity as ecstasy becomes associated with raves, acid house music and smiley face T-shirts.
1989: Clare Leighton, 16, is the UK's first recorded ecstasy-related fatality.
1994: Parts of the UK's Criminal Justice and Public Order Act target raves, or gatherings with music which is characterised by 'a succession of repetitive beats'.
1995: Leah Betts takes an ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday party. Four hours after, she collapses unconscious. She dies three days later.
1996: An official inquest rules that Leah Betts had died from drinking seven litres of water in 90 minutes while on ecstasy, causing water intoxication.
2002: Youngest UK fatality: 10-year-old Jade Slack dies after apparently taking ecstasy.
2004: US' FDA approves John Halpern's study of MDMA use for treating anxiety in terminal cancer patients at Harvard. /
2008: UK government commissions independent scientific board, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, to review ecstasy's classification. Its chair, Professor David Nutt, recommends a downgrade from class A to B, and also describes horse riding as riskier than taking the drug. Both messages are not well received, Professor Nutt was sacked, and the government rejects the classification recommendation.
2010: British Crime Survey reports 517,000 16-59 year olds and 283,000 16-24 year olds had taken ecstasy in the past year.