5-MeO-MiPT chemical structure and pills

Meet Moxy: The Novel Psychedelic the DEA Tried To Ban

But they failed.

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Psychedelics have once again entered public consciousness. The rekindling of interest hasn’t stopped at magic mushrooms and LSD. The Western psychedelic movement awoke a different kind of fascination—with rare and unusual drugs. Some call them “designer drugs.” Others prefer “synthetics” or “research chemicals.” Many were invented back in the 80s and 90s—and subsequently banned by the early 2000s. But not Moxy. Moxy (5-MeO-MiPT) is a novel psychedelic traded by niche underground enthusiasts. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) attempted to ban it in 2022—and they failed.

Interest in Moxy isn’t limited to bold explorers; scientific researchers who study psychedelic drugs are also curious about the novel psychedelic’s unique effects and potential therapeutic applications. I sat down for an interview with Matthew Baggott, PhD, the visionary co-founder and CEO of Tactogen, to further explore all there is to know about 5-MeO-MiPT. Baggott holds a wealth of knowledge and expertise. He’s a seasoned neuroscientist and data scientist with over thirty years of psychedelic research experience. He founded the public benefit corporation Tactogen in 2020 with a noble mission: to ensure that the next generation of psychedelic medicines is safe, effective, and accessible to all.

What is Moxy?

5-MeO-MiPT (5-Methoxy-N-methyl-N-isopropyltryptamine), more popularly referred to as “Moxy,” is a lesser-known drug that’s piqued the curiosity of serious psychonauts for its unique effect profile. It’s not commonplace in the mainstream drug market, but the drug is a profoundly important compound among the research chemical community: a niche group of enthusiasts who passionately experiment with and report on the effects of novel drugs.

Psychoactive substances, generally speaking, can be neatly classified based on their chemical structures. There are tryptamines, phenethylamines, and lysergamides, too. Beyond these classifications, substances are also categorized by the constellation of effects they produce: they can be psychedelic, dissociative, or entactogenic, to name a few. Moxy is chemically classified as a tryptamine, placing it in the same family as the classic psychedelic compounds psilocin and DMT.

5-MeO-MiPT 3D structure
5-MeO-MiPT 3D chemical structure | Wikimedia Commons

Here’s where things get unusual: The Moxy experience resists easy categorization. While it does produce some effects similar to its “classically psychedelic” relatives, it also produces entactogenic effects that drugs like MDMA are well-known for. These entactogenic effects include, in Baggott’s words, “a decreased sense of self-criticism, an increased ability to think about things that you normally avoid thinking about, and an additional sense of sympathetic warmth.” With its ability to induce both psychedelic and entactogenic experiences, Moxy invites us to rethink and expand our frameworks for understanding psychoactive substances—but we still don’t know much about it.

5-MeO-MiPT History

The Birth of Moxy: Discovery and Public Introduction

5-MeO-MiPT is a fully synthetic compound first created in 1985, the brainchild of pioneering medicinal chemists Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin and David B. Repke. Its synthesis was part of an effort to investigate how small changes to a drug’s chemical structure could influence the effects it produces when consumed—a concept in drug discovery research known as the “structure-activity relationship.” Shulgin and Repke published their report of 5-MeO-MiPT’s synthesis and pharmacological effects in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, marking the first documented evidence of the drug’s existence.

In 1997, over a decade after Moxy’s discovery, Alexander Shulgin and his wife, Ann, published their book TiHKAL, or Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved. Contained within the pages of this influential work are detailed accounts of the synthesis, dosage, duration, and qualitative effects of dozens of different tryptamine compounds, including 5-MeO-MiPT. Together with its 1990 predecessor, PiHKAL (or Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved), TiHKAL introduced a vast array of novel psychoactive drugs to a broader audience, moving them out of the closed circles of pharmaceutical researchers and into the purview of curious psychonauts and amateur clandestine chemists.

Sasha Shulgin
5-MeO-MiPT is a fully synthetic compound first created in 1985, the brainchild of renowned medicinal chemists Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin and David B. Repke | Image via Flickr

The Rise of the Research Chemical Market

The mid-1990s to early 2000s witnessed the dawn of a new age, wherein the internet rapidly transformed from a tool for academics and techies into a widely utilized household staple. This shift, combined with the wealth of information made available by both PiHKAL and TiHKAL, provided fertile ground for the explosive growth of the designer drug or research chemical market.

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The terms “designer drug” and “research chemical,” now often used interchangeably, describe novel compounds that are similar to scheduled substances in their structures or effects and have a limited history of human use. Often, they have not been specifically outlawed. The phrase “designer drug” reflects that many of these substances were intentionally developed to circumvent existing drug laws. In contrast, the term “research chemical” emerged from the marketing strategies of early online vendors. These vendors sold these compounds for “research use only,” further sidestepping laws concerning controlled substance analogues.

The proliferation of the research chemical market was complemented by the emergence of online forums dedicated to discussing these substances’ effects, dosage, and safety—such as the still-active Bluelight—and even their chemistry, as with the now-defunct The Hive. By the early 2000s, Moxy had firmly established its presence within this newly transformed landscape, becoming a notable and enduring part of the rapidly developing research chemical market.

Without testing in safe settings—like a clinic or safe consumption sites—it’s difficult to know what to expect from moxy. There is no reliable safety profile for this compound.

What Does Moxy Feel Like?

A “More Unique,” but Largely Unknown Experience

Alexander Shulgin found Moxy’s effects to be rather unusual compared to the effects of other tryptamines, prompting him to state the following in 5-MeO-MiPT’s TiHKAL entry:

“In my lecturing at the University, every couple of years or so some student uses the term ‘more unique than’ or ‘relatively unique.’ This immediately triggers a reflex response from me, to emphasize the simple definition that something that is unique is something that is one of a kind, and that all one-of-a-kind things are different from all other one-of-a-kind things. All drugs are unique. Every drug is different from all other drugs. 5-MeO-MIPT is unique.”

A cursory review of experience reports published to online sites like Bluelight and Erowid by those in the research chemical community hit at Moxy’s unique effects. Firsthand accounts detail a vast range of positive and negative effects, typically lasting for five to eight hours. Many of these reports remark on the substance’s notable stimulation and tactile enhancement, as well as its relatively “shallow” headspace, often perceived as less confusing and more easily tolerated compared to classical psychedelics.

However, it’s essential to note: These anecdotal accounts are unconfirmed and represent the experiences of a small number of veteran psychonauts. Without testing in safe settings, like a clinic or safe consumption sites, it’s difficult to know what to expect from Moxy. There is no reliable safety profile for this compound. It can be difficult to know what harm reduction measures to put in place because information on the drug is scarce. For this reason, it is not recommended for psychedelic novices. Yet, anyone who chooses to experiment with Moxy does so at their own risk, since there are so many unknowns.    

two moxy pills
Two tablets of 5-MeO-MIPT | Wikimedia Commons

Dose-Dependent Effects

Importantly, the overall character and intensity of Moxy experiences appear to be profoundly dependent on the dosage consumed. According to Baggott, the trials that Sasha Shulgin conducted with 5-MeO-MiPT were relatively conservative in their dosage, within the 4-6mg range taken orally. At this range, Baggott says, Moxy “produced virtually no visual effects, instead eliciting a somewhat ‘stoning’ feeling accompanied by powerful feelings of eroticism — perhaps making it useful for enhancing intimate experiences with a partner.” Moxy’s entactogenic effects, such as feelings of empathy and closeness with others, are also particularly prominent at low doses—according to Shulgin’s limited self-experiments. Baggott noted that “while some people enjoy using these lower doses for its distinct, non-classical psychedelic profile, there are some people who enjoy higher doses above 10 milligrams.”

However, Baggott cautions that “at those higher doses, people often feel more stimulating effects and more pronounced physical effects that can be distracting for some or even worrisome in some cases.”

At higher doses, Moxy can produce strong visual alterations and other effects typical of classical psychedelics. However, Baggott cautions that “at those higher doses, people often feel more stimulating effects and more pronounced physical effects that can be distracting for some or even worrisome in some cases.” Physical discomfort is often mentioned in Moxy experience reports, including muscle aches, stomach cramps, nausea, and occasionally, vomiting. While these effects most frequently manifest with higher doses, they can sometimes occur in the lower dosage range as well.

Though it is often described as clear-headed compared to many other psychedelic substances, Moxy can sometimes produce confusing, unpleasant, and even distressing experiences, especially in high doses. Additionally, while Moxy’s effects can be described generally, it is important to note that individual factors such as body weight, metabolism, and set and setting can greatly influence one’s experience with the substance. To mitigate the risk of unpleasant experiences, it’s always a good idea to engage in safe consumption practices, especially when using a new drug.

Moxy’s Role in Modern Psychedelic Research:

From Forums to Formal Research

The story of Moxy underscores the important and underappreciated contributions of the research chemical community to the field of psychedelic research. Through their readiness to self-experiment with largely untested compounds and share their experiences openly, individuals in this community generate an abundance of valuable anecdotal data that can—and often does—complement formal scientific inquiry. While these practices undoubtedly carry extreme and often unpredictable risks, they also reflect the community’s commendable spirit of curiosity and driven desire to push boundaries in the search for knowledge.

Experience reports sometimes draw comparisons between the effects of Moxy and MDMA, citing Moxy’s pronounced prosocial and empathy-enhancing effects at low doses. This comparison extends beyond subjective reports, as Baggott highlights a specific combination of substances known as the “Borax Combo.” Originally formulated and proposed by the Reddit user “Borax” in a post on the /r/Drugs subreddit, this combination aims to replicate the MDMA experience using a blend of various research chemicals—including Moxy.

Safety Note

Mix-and-matching your drugs can lead to unpredictable results. You may be more likely to experience side effects that impact your physical and mental safety. When possible, preference one substance at a time. Harm reduction advocates stress the adage: “Start low, go slow.”

Although Tactogen is not pursuing Moxy itself as a medicine, Baggott believes that careful investigation of substances like Moxy can inform future research into the therapeutic applications of psychedelics and entactogens. His interest in Moxy is part of his ongoing efforts to identify and develop novel medicines that can improve upon the effects of MDMA, a drug with established therapeutic potential. Moxy, with its unique blend of psychedelic and entactogenic properties, emerged as a compelling candidate in this pursuit.

Understanding Moxy’s Mechanism of Action

To better understand what distinguishes Moxy from many other tryptamines, Baggott, in collaboration with several academic partners, conducted what is known as “receptor screening.” Baggott explained that this laboratory process involves measuring a drug’s interactions with specific neurotransmitter receptors expressed in cells.

Through this, they found that Moxy acts as a potent agonist for a type of serotonin receptor known as the 5-HT1B receptor. Baggott stated that this was an interesting finding, especially in light of research suggesting that stimulation of the 5-HT1B receptor is responsible for the prosocial effects of MDMA in mice. One could speculate, then, that Moxy’s MDMA-like qualities at lower doses may be attributed to activity at this specific receptor—although Baggott notes, “you know, at this point, that’s a hypothesis.” Additionally, Baggott confirmed Moxy’s agonistic action at the 5-HT2A receptor, a common target for “classical” psychedelic compounds, solidifying its place—perhaps not exclusively—within the psychedelic class.

Finally, Baggott and his colleagues did not detect any ability of Moxy to inhibit an enzyme known as monoamine oxidase A, or MAO-A, which would have indicated extra risks in combining Moxy with drugs that increase serotonin, dopamine, and other monoamine neurotransmitters. However, Baggott cautions that they did not examine any metabolites of Moxy, which might also inhibit MAO-A or have other risks. This is a significant finding, as Moxy’s potential to inhibit MAO-A has been a longstanding topic of debate and speculation among the research chemical community.

Future Directions and Therapeutic Implications

When considering the future of Moxy in therapeutic settings, Baggott adopts a cautious yet optimistic tone. He acknowledges the potential of Moxy—or its novel analogues—to offer therapeutic benefits, particularly at lower doses where the classical psychedelic and stimulant-like effects are minimized. However, Baggott also highlights the practical hurdles, emphasizing the financial and regulatory challenges associated with bringing an existing compound like Moxy into therapeutic use. He suggests that while the direct application of Moxy in therapy may be limited, the knowledge gained from studying it could pave the way for the development of novel analogues, specially tailored to enhance therapeutic outcomes while minimizing potential risks.

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Is Moxy Legal?

Moxy’s Ambiguous Legal Status

Novel psychoactive substances, unless specifically scheduled, often occupy somewhat of a legal grey area, and Moxy is no exception. As of the publishing of this article, Moxy remains unscheduled on the federal level in the United States but is specifically listed as a Schedule I controlled substance in the states of Florida, Louisiana, and Minnesota. Though 5-MeO-MiPT remains federally unscheduled, possession and sale of Moxy for human consumption remains illegal due to the Federal Analogue Act. We don’t know how the regulatory landscape will evolve as research progresses and the potential therapeutic benefits of Moxy and similar compounds come to light.

The DEA’s Proposal and Subsequent Withdrawal

The legal status of Moxy was recently one of the primary subjects of a notable push-pull between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and dedicated stakeholders in the psychedelic and scientific communities. On January 12, 2022, the DEA floated a proposal to ban five tryptamine substances, with 5-MeO-MiPT being one of the central targets. The reasoning, as outlined by the DEA, was largely rooted in structural and experiential similarities between these compounds and already prohibited psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin and DMT.

In response, Baggott’s company Tactogen, along with Mindstate Design Labs, laid out a comprehensive opposition to this proposal and requested a legal hearing from the DEA. Their arguments emphasized the long-standing obscurity and relatively benign nature of these compounds, given that they had been known to the scientific community since as early as 1985 without creating any notable public health crises. Beyond these arguments, Tactogen also highlighted the implications of such a ban on the broader scientific and medical landscape.

The requested hearing was scheduled to take place on August 22, 2022. The DEA, however, facing robust opposition from a coalition of scientists, companies, and passionate individuals, decided to withdraw its proposal just one month before the hearing was scheduled to occur. Tactogen, in a public response, lauded this decision, emphasizing the need for regulations that are better aligned with modern scientific knowledge and the changing societal perceptions of psychedelics.

Implications of Scheduling for Research and Medicine

If the DEA’s proposed scheduling had come to fruition, research involving any of the included compounds would become arduous and stifling, requiring complex permits, storage regulations, and more. Moreover, the DEA’s broad-brush approach meant that even compounds with uncertain or unexplored properties would get lumped into these restrictive categories. The future potential of these substances in therapy and medicine would remain locked behind miles of costly red tape.

Tactogen’s response also called attention to the DEA’s reliance on outdated and limited research methods, suggesting a need for a more comprehensive and nuanced approach to assessing the risks and benefits of psychedelic compounds. The company called on Congress to reconsider the strict regulations placed on these substances, stating, “Placing psychedelics into Schedule I takes potential medicines and important scientific research tools and turns them into vehicles for injustice.”

It is not possible to make a fully informed decision before using Moxy, but efforts should still be made to familiarize yourself with the substance as much as you can if you choose to take it.

Tips for a Safe(r) Trip

If you plan to use Moxy, it is crucial to do so responsibly. Like all psychoactive substances, using Moxy poses inherent risks. Adhering to general harm reduction principles is a good starting point. However, due to some of its unique properties and some of its common uses, there are additional, specific considerations to keep in mind if you are planning to use Moxy.

Accurate Dosing is Key

Special care and attention must be paid when dosing Moxy. According to PsychonautWiki, the oral doses for Moxy are as follows:*

  • Threshold: 3mg
  • Light: 3-7mg
  • Common: 7-15mg
  • Strong: 15-20mg
  • Heavy: 20mg+

*These dosages represent the values underground consumers take. Research on Moxy outside of the research chemical community is slim, meaning reliable and consistent dosages have not been rigorously tested.

Moxy is often encountered in its powder form and is extremely potent, meaning that a dose requires only a very small amount of material. As with all other substances, doses of Moxy should never be eyeballed. Even when using the appropriate tools, accurately measuring such small quantities of powder is challenging. The vast majority of affordable milligram scales—while invaluable harm reduction tools—cannot accurately measure very small amounts. Furthermore, many of these scales have a manufacturer-stated margin of error of ±5mg. For Moxy, a difference of just five milligrams can result in a monumentally different experience than anticipated.

For this reason, those who take Moxy may utilize a technique known as volumetric liquid dosing. This practice involves dissolving a known, larger quantity of a substance into a known volume of liquid. The liquid used is typically distilled water, but other liquids are sometimes used depending on the substance. This safety practice allows one to measure potent substances more accurately in cases where a milligram scale alone is insufficient. A comprehensive guide to volumetric liquid dosing can be found on PsychonautWiki here.

Once it can be confidently determined that the intended dose has been measured accurately, be sure to “start low and go slow.” As mentioned previously, high doses of Moxy can sometimes produce terribly unpleasant experiences. Consider using a very low dose for your first experience in order to familiarize yourself with its effects before venturing into experimentation with higher doses.

Emphasis on Set and Setting

Another vital aspect to consider when using Moxy is “set and setting”—one’s mindset and the physical and social environment they are in. While this is important for the use of any drug, it can take on additional significance with Moxy, particularly when it is utilized for sexual enhancement. Combining sex and substance use introduces an entirely new dimension of risk. It is imperative to ensure that all parties involved are consenting, comfortable, and aware of the potential risks and effects. Additionally, engaging in open and honest communication about boundaries and expectations can contribute to a safer and more enjoyable experience. While this can be a complex and sensitive area to navigate, DanceSafe’s “Healing Is Power” campaign provides a wealth of valuable insights and guidelines on the intersection of sex and substance use, among other topics.

Confronting the Unknown

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that Moxy is a novel psychoactive substance and has a very brief history of human use. To date, there have been no documented fatalities directly linked to Moxy consumption, and anecdotal reports of its use generally suggest that the substance is well-tolerated, with minimal adverse health effects when used responsibly and in moderation. However, this should in no way be misconstrued as an assurance of Moxy’s safety. The long-term effects and potential risks associated with its use remain largely unknown. Though it is not possible to make a fully informed decision before using Moxy, efforts should still be made to familiarize yourself with the substance as much as you can. PsychonautWiki and Erowid are fantastic drug education resources to utilize for this purpose.

Conclusion

Moxy has played an essential and underrecognized role in the modern landscape of psychedelic drugs. Throughout its relatively brief existence—just shy of 40 years—Moxy has consistently made a significant impact across various domains. It has ignited a spark of curiosity within the psychedelic science community, potentially paving the way for innovative therapeutic approaches and offering new possibilities in the realm of mental health treatment. Its unique properties and effects have pushed both scientists and psychonauts alike to reconsider the ways they think about psychedelics. Its sustained presence, despite regulatory challenges and attempts to render it illicit, stands as a testament to the shifting perceptions and increasing acceptance of psychedelics in contemporary society. Moxy is a valuable compound deserving of thorough exploration, and we can only hope that it is here to stay.

Loved this article on Moxy (5-MeO-MiPT)? Continue learning here.

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Disclaimer

In the event of an emergency, please dial local emergency services. For substance abuse help in the US, please dial the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at +1 (800) 662-4357.

This article is intended for educational and harm reduction purposes only and should not be used in place of medical advice or treatment. DoubleBlind does not advocate participating in illicit activities. Always consult your local drug laws before engaging with any illicit substance.

DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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