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Not Fit for Human Consumption
October 31, 2010 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Llewellyn [ . . . ] boasts that his safety testing method is foolproof: He and several colleagues sit in a room and take a new product "almost to overdose levels" to see what happens. "We'll all sit with a pen and a pad, some good music on, and one person who's straight who's watching everything," he says.

A designer drug is one which is created to get around existing drug laws by modifying the molecular structure of a currently illegal drug, a technique that dates as early as the 1920s. The previous wikipedia page gives an outline of the history of designer drugs in the United States. Laws such as the Federal Analog Act which attempted to prevent this are circumvented by declaring the new substances to be research chemicals and labeled "Not Fit for Human Consumption."
(Previously)
posted by Obscure Reference (57 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
2C-I is a helluva drug.

or so I'm told
posted by mannequito at 5:19 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Previously (on AskMe)
posted by Rhaomi at 5:25 PM on October 31, 2010


"You can snort it like crack." Don't snort crack. There are those who shoot crack by mixing it with lemon juice. Don't do that, either.

If you want to know what the hell something will do, try erowid.
posted by poe at 5:31 PM on October 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


Had a friend impersonate a med student and order a bunch 2cb2 in college a few months before it became heavily restricted.

Best hallucinatory experience I ever had. Involved a pirate dress-up party, a snow storm, and a bonfire that got out of hand.

I'll second poe's erowid suggestion. Know your drug and know your dealer.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:40 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The federal analog act seems like a very shaky piece of legislation. How'd we go from prohibition requiring an amendment to the Constitution to 'if you can get messed up on it, it's illegal'?
posted by mullingitover at 5:42 PM on October 31, 2010 [23 favorites]


It's an interesting and worrying trend. The obvious authoritarian crackdown response is to move from laws banning the following substances X, Y Z (and everything else is legal) to laws permitting the production, sale and possession of the following substances A, B, C (and everything else is illegal). Or an intermediate production-based alternative, where pharmaceutical corporations are licenced to produce drugs of whatever kind, and anything produced by them and prescribed to the user is inherently legal (presumably having gone through a testing and certification process) and anything not produced by them is inherently illegal.

This is a bad thing, of course, as pharmaceutical companies are strongly incentivised to treat rather than cure conditions, treat only conditions that are profitable for them to treat, and keep the profits high at the cost of results.

If we somehow escape that fate, the natural outcome of biotechnological advancement is the quicker and cheaper production of a wider variety of purer biochemicals, safe and deadly. Broadly speaking once people can produce Prozac from scratch (particularly when the technology allows you to just put some into the top of the machine), we can probably produce MDMA from scratch (which pretty much ends the Drug War), but more worryingly with a device or local lab or mail-order service that produces to chemical order, you can probably produce your own poisons.

It's the same with home CNC, which is a hobby of mine that probably has its own upcoming conflict with authorities; once you have the technology that lets you make (broadly speaking) anything out of metal, wood and acrylic, that includes a whole bunch of stuff that authorities would prefer you didn't make. For example, any machinist could make a functional, if not particularly good, gun. Key duplication and making master keys are easy problems.

The revolution's coming. The terms of the conflict are pretty simple: on the one side, technology that makes it ever faster and cheaper to make "stuff". On the other side, status quo interests that would prefer, not always for bad or selfish reasons, that we didn't.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:46 PM on October 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


The federal analog act seems like a very shaky piece of legislation.

This is highly unusual because all other drug laws in this country are based upon sound scientific research into health consequences and data-driven studies of abuse patter-BWAAAHAHAHAAHAAAAHAA I almost finished that sentence with a straight face. Almost!
posted by Ndwright at 5:46 PM on October 31, 2010 [25 favorites]


...new psychoactive powders and pills that are marketed as "not for human consumption."

That guy has already done permanent damage to his brain if he thinks slapping a label on his drugs is going to keep him out of trouble, especially if he's going to give interviews saying they're "every bit as good as cocaine."
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:49 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


So... they can't ban them fast enough, and they don't have the education and manpower to enforce existing laws. What now then?

Certainly we wouldn't want to deregulate and allow consenting adults to do what they want with their own bodies, so what other alternatives are there?
posted by jellywerker at 5:52 PM on October 31, 2010


He and several colleagues sit in a room and take a new product "almost to overdose levels" to see what happens. "We'll all sit with a pen and a pad, some good music on, and one person who's straight who's watching everything," he says.

This sounds like quality control rather than safety testing.
posted by Brian B. at 5:52 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


The federal analog act seems like a very shaky piece of legislation.

An easy start: it is illegal to distribute all compounds producing kidney toxicity without mechanism X of FDA approval and warning documentation for consumers. That sounds good right? Incense manufacturers shouldn't be able to put chemicals with known health effects in their goods without some warnings.

Now replace "kidney toxicity" with "delusions and disorientation" or "addictive potential". If you didn't buy Spice knowing that it would get you high (it certainly doesn't say that on the side) that would be undesirable. Given the side effects we've seen in many clinical trials, I'm always surprised that people think these substances are good ideas.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:01 PM on October 31, 2010


@a robot made out of meat: I don't think that people think these are good ideas as much as people think they are a better idea than going to jail.
posted by jellywerker at 6:04 PM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Or not getting a buzz.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:05 PM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


In the end, it's not about substances. It's about receptors.
posted by telstar at 6:09 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are those who shoot crack by mixing it with lemon juice. Don't do that, either.

Or if you must, at least use citric acid or vitamin c as your acidifier.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:11 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


jellywerker allow consenting adults to do what they want with their own bodies

It's not that simple. I take issue with all three parts of your statement, "consenting", "what they want", and "their own bodies". "What they want", and "consenting" are predicated on knowing what it is that you are consenting to.

Smoking marijuana has been extensively tested and all effects and side effects of it are well known. Some questions remain concerning its interaction with schizophrenia and with that psychological force which for lack of a better term might be called "motivation", but to a reasonable level of approximation we know what it'll do to a given member of the general public. The same is true to a lesser or greater extent of the various legal recreational drugs (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol etc) and of popular street drugs such as cocaine. We have a pretty good idea of the effect-inducing dose levels, the overdose levels, the comedown duration, the addictivity and withdrawal effects. Especially if we're personally a user of it.

The stuff David Llewellynn makes is not tested. Him and his friends taking it once in a room and not suffering any noticeable bad effects during the trip or over the next couple of days does not count as testing. Neurochemicals can and do have wildly variable effects on different people and from very similar other neurochemicals.

You can of course consent to processes of which you don't really know the outcome, even to the possibility of death or permanent injury, but that's a whole different question from whether you should take something that's said to be "like cocaine", in the expectation that it will do more or less the same to you that cocaine would have done. The question of consent is different at different levels of experience as a cocaine user, too - an experienced user may notice differences that, had they been aware existed, they wouldn't have consented to.

Then there's the issue of "with their own bodies". You consenting to do something that might permanently deprive you, say, of your sense of touch, or your ability to restrain yourself from screaming, will render you very, very dependent on other people. It'll probably make you useless at your job, unable to pay your rent, provide for your family, etc. I don't mean to be fearmongering by this. Serious neurological damage is an extremely unlikely outcome, you could be just as badly hurt by randomly suffering a stroke, or you could randomly have a car accident that makes you a quadreplegic. The point I'm making is that your consent to take the untested drug may have follow-on consequences to others than yourself, so your right to do it needs to come with a responsibility to mitigate those consequences.

That does not amount to an argument for illegality. I don't want taking unknown new drugs to be illegal any more than, say, putting your mouth over the tailpipe exhaust of a running 1970's Volkswagen and breathing in the gases is illegal. It ought to be considered a very risky thing to do. Probably, a very stupid thing to do. But the extent to which I would want a state to go to, to prevent you from doing it, falls far short of jailing you for trying.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:20 PM on October 31, 2010 [14 favorites]


The federal analog act seems like a very shaky piece of legislation. How'd we go from prohibition requiring an amendment to the Constitution to 'if you can get messed up on it, it's illegal'?

Prohibition never required an amendment, they just did it that way because they thought it would make it harder to overturn.
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on October 31, 2010


Man, that quote from Llewellyn is ridiculous. Does he actually think that proves anything about safety? (well, other than that it doesnt immediately kill you or anything).

I'm not sure what the best legal approach to this is, but personally I feel a lot safer with something that has pretty known side effects (like cannabis) than something a guy once took a bunch of. It could take years or decades before we know what these do. I take an antidepressant, but that went through clinical trials and this particular one has been on the market for 25 years. Still not perfect, but at least there's some reason to trust it.

In a better world, where we were OK with recreational drugs, maybe there would be an FDA-style process for them. Prove a certain amount of safety and you can sell your drug. Or at least prove that you know what the tradeoffs are so people can make an informed decision (which is basically what we do for therapeutic drugs, which generally have both positive and negative effects).
posted by wildcrdj at 6:22 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once we really *really* understand neuroscience and chemistry the drugs are going to be insane and dangerous and available over the counter or in a construct-your-own kit. A Mandatory Drug Test will be to make sure you have enough Anti-Empathy in your system and sentences will come with 3-years of guilt-inducing hormone clauses.
posted by The Whelk at 6:29 PM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


@aeschenkarnos: when I first started reading your post, I prepared myself to ignore what I thought was sure to be an anti-drug diatribe of the pedantic sort. By the end however, I completely agree with you.

All I can add is that I hope things trend towards greater education and research rather than greater governmental involvement, though I know they won't.
posted by jellywerker at 6:33 PM on October 31, 2010


It'll probably make you useless at your job, unable to pay your rent, provide for your family, etc. I don't mean to be fearmongering by this.

hrm
posted by nevercalm at 6:33 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Whelk Once we really *really* understand neuroscience and chemistry

I think if/when that happens we wouldn't really be human beings any more, as we understand the term. Almost all of what we as humans want, what we do, what we think we are, is driven by impulses inherited from remote ancestors who lived totally different lives, greatly altered by the circumstances we find ourselves in.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:35 PM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


@nevercalm: don't pull things out of context. The idea was that taking a drug with unknown side effects, and then those side effects hypothetically turned out to be permanent deprivation of your sense of touch, mental capacity, etc... could possibly lead to those outcomes. The intended message was not that drugs make you useless and to monger fear.
posted by jellywerker at 6:37 PM on October 31, 2010


It'll probably make you useless at your job, unable to pay your rent, provide for your family, etc. I don't mean to be fearmongering by this.

To clarify, the likelihood of something bad happening to you as a consequence of taking untested analog drugs is much greater than something bad happening to you as a consequence of taking the well-tested drugs that the analog drugs are purported to be analogs of. That's not to say it will happen, and it's also possible that the analog drug could do less harm.

Cocaine was more-or-less randomly "selected" by plant evolution because it does something useful to the coca plant, not for human neurochemistry. There are many possible drugs that give that particular series of effects. Some may be better and some may be worse for humans, however you choose to measure it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:42 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think if/when that happens we wouldn't really be human beings any more, as we understand the term.

The future is gonna be Awfulwonderful!
posted by The Whelk at 6:43 PM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


robot made out of meat : If you didn't buy Spice knowing that it would get you high (it certainly doesn't say that on the side) that would be undesirable.

You mean like nutmeg, which will get you high (and not just a little, talkin' falling-down farked up - But WOW what a hangover) and has hepatotoxic effects?


aeschenkarnos : It's not that simple. I take issue with all three parts of your statement, "consenting", "what they want", and "their own bodies". "What they want", and "consenting" are predicated on knowing what it is that you are consenting to. [...] The stuff David Llewellynn makes is not tested.

Guys like Llewellynn and Shulgin have their entire raison d'etre in the government having already banned all known, relatively safe, intoxicants in the first place, thus leaving your argument a circular one.

Not to say that they might not still do the same thing under a more sane legal climate - But in such a climate, they would have the "luxury" of actually testing their creations for safety before seeing what it does do their own wetware.
posted by pla at 6:46 PM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


...new psychoactive powders and pills that are marketed as "not for human consumption."

That guy has already done permanent damage to his brain if he thinks slapping a label on his drugs is going to keep him out of trouble, especially if he's going to give interviews saying they're "every bit as good as cocaine."


Seriously; that's exactly how the research chemical sites (selling the 2C-series of drugs) were shut down midway through the last decade via the ill-named Operation Web Tryp.
posted by ubersturm at 6:59 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can of course consent to processes of which you don't really know the outcome, even to the possibility of death or permanent injury, but that's a whole different question from whether you should take something that's said to be "like cocaine", in the expectation that it will do more or less the same to you that cocaine would have done.

During prohibition, people drank jake, in the expectation that it would do more or less the same to you that alcoholic beverages would have done. Tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate is a hell of a drug, and it didn't work out too well.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:10 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Guys like Llewellynn and Shulgin have their entire raison d'etre in the government having already banned all known, relatively safe, intoxicants in the first place, thus leaving your argument a circular one.

Bingo. Between drug testing and the law, our society has made it "safer" to use risky over-the-counter/prescription/analog drugs than it is to use the safest drugs on Earth. The consequences are both predictable and obvious -- I had a friend who died of an overdose after switching to "legal" pills due to government-job drug testing, and I'm sure he's not alone.

At this point, there's simply no way we can even pretend as if our drug policy has anything to do with safety; frankly, I'd take Llewellynn's "three guys and a hotel room" method over the DEA any day of the week, because at least he's not deliberately killing people for their harmless "crimes".
posted by vorfeed at 7:16 PM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


ubersturm : Seriously; that's exactly how the research chemical sites (selling the 2C-series of drugs) were shut down midway through the last decade via the ill-named Operation Web Tryp.

The irony there, of course, coming from the fact that the 2C family derives from phenethylamine (speed, mescaline), not tryptamine (acid, psilocybin), making that sting both offensive to our liberties and rather pathetically named.

But don't let that stop the "narcotics" squad from busting people for use/possession/manufacture of all those evil schedule "Z" drugs. A little reality never stopped Da Man from pissing on us.

To kill the joke, narcotics refer specifically to sleep-inducing drugs, usually the opiates; applying it to amphetamine derivatives like 2CB just completely misses the frickin' boat; And the US has no "schedule Z" - You have schedule/C-1, sometimes written in the Roman numeral "I", but never, ever as the letter "Z".
posted by pla at 7:19 PM on October 31, 2010


our society has made it "safer" to use risky over-the-counter/prescription/analog drugs than it is to use the safest drugs on Earth.

true. caffeine death
70X!
posted by clavdivs at 7:32 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're coming to the end of a pretty wacky year in Ireland, drug wise. Headshops have been around forever, but once they started selling passable cannabis and cocaine analogues, business started booming and new shops began opening even in small rural towns. Shops opened 24 hours a day, and the average street, pub or house party was full of people completely off their tree. The drug dealers didn't like the effect on their bottom line, so they started firebombing them. Finally, the government rushed really broad analogue legislation which banned anything which might be similar in any way to anything else, and the whole strange adventure came to an end. I can't wait to tell my grandkids about it.
posted by kersplunk at 7:38 PM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


Man, that quote from Llewellyn is ridiculous. Does he actually think that proves anything about safety? (well, other than that it doesnt immediately kill you him or anything).

FTFY, wildcrdj.

(For the record, in favor of abolishing most drug laws, and starting over from scratch.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:05 PM on October 31, 2010


aeschenkarnos: the likelihood of something bad happening to you as a consequence of taking untested analog drugs is much greater than something bad happening to you as a consequence of taking the well-tested drugs that the analog drugs are purported to be analogs of

Can you explain how agnosticism about the drugs leads to an assertion of "much greater" probability?
posted by daksya at 8:53 PM on October 31, 2010


daksya Can you explain how agnosticism about the drugs leads to an assertion of "much greater" probability?

Cocaine, marijuana, heroin etc are all well-tested. Leaving aside the issue of what it may be cut with, we know that cocaine does increase your risk of heart failure. But it doesn't send you blind with repeated use (that I know of). A given cocaine-analog will probably also increase your risk of heart failure, but whether it does so more or less than cocaine does is an open question. Separate to this it may also send you blind with repeated use. You don't know, because it's new, and no-one's used it enough to find out. You're a beta tester.

Two doors: the one on the left is open, the room is fully visible to you, and it contains a wolf. The door on the right is closed and you cannot see or hear or smell what is within. Is the probability that the room on the right contains a tiger greater than that the room on the left contains a tiger? Obviously the room might not contain a tiger. Probably doesn't; tigers are rare. But it's a simple mathematical fact that if p(left,tiger) = 0 and p(right,tiger) > 0 then p(right,tiger) > p(left,tiger).

I'll grant you that "much greater" is hyperbole. I don't actually know how much greater the risk is and nor does anyone else. I suspect the risk is much greater purely due to the nature of what we are talking about: mind-altering drugs, chemicals that alter the mental and physical state of the user, which indeed is their purpose and their attraction. A mind-altering drug must chemically interact with the user's neurological state to some extent to have its effect at all. Clearly it is possible that it will chemically interact in a way that leaves more permanent damage than cocaine does. Clearly the range of possibilities for doing more harm than cocaine greatly exceeds the range of possibilities for doing less harm than cocaine (although nothing is known about the relative frequency of various harms among the many cocaine-analogs).

I would consider it safer for someone seeking a cocaine-like buzz to get it from cocaine, whose harms are known, than from a cocaine-analog. I am in favour of people, especially experienced cocaine users, being permitted to knowingly experiment with analogs with a view to finding improved positive effects and lessened negative effects. I am vehemently against a legislative environment where the illegality of cocaine leads to would-be cocaine users buying essentially random untested analogs. I consider that to be a pernicious consequence of stupid lawmaking.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:47 PM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


I work for a minor pharmaceutical company researching small molecule ligands for the CB2 receptor, trying to find suitable compounds to treat post-operative pain without the "moral complications" that result from CB1 agonism. One of my former coworkers recently left the company and got a sales-related job giving technical support to biotech companies using his company's products.

His employer doesn't drug test, but any of his clients have the right to test him for drugs simply because he sets foot inside their buildings. As a result, he's switched from smoking the cannabis that humans have been safely consuming for thousands of years to synthetic, small molecule CB1 agonists and, on occasion, the delta-opioiod agonist Salvia divinorum. Unlike the cannabinoids in marijuana, these compounds are not tested for or they're eliminated much more quickly than the lipid-soluble CB1 agonists found in marijuana (making it possible to pass a drug test the next day if you find out you have to take one). Since these drugs are legal and I couldn't care less about the potential side effects on myself, I sampled some of the stuff that he's procured.

Most of the CB1 ligands seem to do a pretty good job of getting you stoned. Some actually are more effective than THC (which is only a partial CB1 agonist). But they taste really synthetic, and the high doesn't seem to be as long lasting as that of the natural stuff. Salvia is in it's own league, and I'm amazed that it's still legal here because it's much, much more intense than any cannabinoid.

All of these compounds suffer from a major disadvantage compared to THC: there is no body of scientific literature surrounding their effects, either short term or long term. I read all of the papers that are published elucidating the mechanisms and effects of the cannabinoids in marijuana. It's my job. None of them discuss the small molecules that are readily available in your local head shop. Maybe they're just as safe as the cannabinoids in marijuana (which I would put near the same level as coffee, and far less damaging as alcohol or cigarettes), but maybe they have off-target effects as well. We don't know. Why force people to take a chance with potentially dangerous drugs?

/drunk on bourbon right now, which I know is worse for me than marijuana would be, but it's Halloween and I had to be social.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 10:20 PM on October 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


So, um, how many chemistry classes would one have to take to get into this hobby, hypothetically speaking?
posted by Jacqueline at 10:42 PM on October 31, 2010


In all this, is it all opinion or science... no matter - the real outcome is a form of dementia. Choose your type. Lewy body probably best. You see, hear and can have a converstion with your illusion.
posted by Racy at 11:01 PM on October 31, 2010


aeschekarnos: But it's a simple mathematical fact that if p(left,tiger) = 0 and p(right,tiger) > 0 then p(right,tiger) > p(left,tiger).

Except that p(right,tiger) should be >= 0 thus allowing no clean comparison; but moreover since we are considering total harm: danger(cocaine) = X and danger(analog) = ??, hence comparison is indeterminate and there can be no assertion of relative risk.
posted by daksya at 11:49 PM on October 31, 2010


The problem with "designer drugs" is that occasionally one of the designers stumbles onto something a bit different.

Back in the late 1970's, a chemistry student named Barry Kidston who was in search of a legal high tried to synthesize MPPP, a chemical analog of Demerol. Problem was, he also synthesized a compound known as MPTP, which is a selective neurotoxin. He, and all his customers, were stricken with severe symptoms of Parkinson's disease. (And the condition is permanent.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:59 AM on November 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are still constraints on it though daksya. Cocaine and analogs of cocaine are members of the set of all chemical compounds, subset organic compounds. This set can be sorted according to the relative benefits and harm, or at least into categories of relative harm, that a given exposure level to them does to most human beings under most conditions. (Maybe two, maybe more, axes for harm and benefit are needed.) Obviously we don't know which compounds are members of which sets of relative harm, and I'm not an organic chemist, but I think it's safe to guess at the sizes of the sets of compounds that are sufficiently harmful to cause the user to be injured to the point of, say, about half or more of their normal level of capacity to enjoy life and go about their normal activities for a period of at least two days, vs the sets of compounds that are less harmful than this. I would guess that most organic compounds are at least that harmful. Most of the world is poisonous, in other words. Your immune system may vary.

Given that we're talking about cocaine-analogs, that's pretty much equivalent to talking about "stuff that has a similar biochemical effect as cocaine". Which raises the question of how harmful cocaine is (at various levels of user familiarity, warnings and supervision), and how much an analog has to differ from cocaine to stray into the harmful set. Again, not being an organic chemist, I don't know. I'm guessing.

I believe we're allowed to guess at things we don't know, if we explain our reasoning and adjust the guesses to account for new information. We do know more or less how harmful cocaine is, and that information is enough to support some educated guesses.

If you have some other guess to make, please by all means share your reasoning and your guess. I've tried to make it quite clear that the assertions I'm making are based on fairly shaky data - recreational drug production science is about as unexplored and undeveloped as any science can be in Western society.

I could be utterly wrong and every cocaine-analog produceable by human science could be a significant improvement over cocaine itself in terms of user health and enjoyment. Cocaine itself is somewhere on the spectrum of harmfulness of cocaine-analogs. My guess is that it's very likely to be somewhere about the middle. If it's far to the harmless side, making and taking cocaine-analogs becomes a very dangerous pursuit. If it's far to the harmful side, well, doing it would end up being a genuine service to humanity, because that would mean that at least some of those analogs would actually be highly effective anti-depressants and anti-soporifics. Cocaine itself almost is.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:13 AM on November 1, 2010


Chocolate Pickle (And the condition is permanent.)

Arguably, it's permanent so far; and arguably, the existence of a neurotoxin that induces the symptoms of Parkinson's disease might shed light on how Parkinson's disease happens in the natural state.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:15 AM on November 1, 2010


I think this guy is being a bit silly, as others have said: his website clearly implies that the drugs are for human use. On the other hand, he provides decent information about his products and doesn't just hide behind meaningless brand names. And he's giving away marquis testing kits (which can be used to determine the contents of a pill/powder - ecstasy, amphetamines, etc). So I give him credit for that.

The article is interesting because it's just ever so slightly out-of-date. It talks a lot about mephedrone, which was banned last year in the UK. But it doesn't mention the legal highs that are currently of interest, like 6-APB. It also quotes the figure of 30 deaths from mephedrone, which I'm sure has been refuted, but I can't find any links right now.

On risk, given that the analogues are very similar to existing drugs, and should be targeting the same receptors, I hope that aeschenkarnos is overstating the risks (I can think of a large number of analogues that have been used, sometimes widely, with no major problems - the piperazines, methylone, maybe mephedrone).
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:22 AM on November 1, 2010


Lem predicted this.
posted by humanfont at 2:24 AM on November 1, 2010


Before anyone here gets too curious: David Llewellynn and his online store advertised in the article are not highly regarded by people who are into this subject matter. Better to stay clear of his site. He also seems to be quite a media-whore, and it's never a good sign when someone invites more negative attention to this field by giving sensationalist interviews just to make his own business more well-known, while putting other people at risk and some of the lesser known substances a huge step closer towards extinction.
Too lazy to dig up a source (which i am not even sure would be okay to post here), but last time i checked, people were still waiting for their paid orders to show up and debating whether he's a scam or just very, very sketchy. But do your own research (as with all drugs), maybe he's proven himself to be an okay guy in the meantime. I highly doubt it though.
posted by morizky at 6:15 AM on November 1, 2010


To quote Terence (who I think was paraphrasing something else): There are old psychedelicists and bold psychedelicists, but there are no old, bold psychedelicists.
posted by symbioid at 6:30 AM on November 1, 2010


pla: "ubersturm : Seriously; that's exactly how the research chemical sites (selling the 2C-series of drugs) were shut down midway through the last decade via the ill-named Operation Web Tryp.

The irony there, of course, coming from the fact that the 2C family derives from phenethylamine (speed, mescaline), not tryptamine (acid, psilocybin), making that sting both offensive to our liberties and rather pathetically named.
"

Well, to be fair, AMT (I can't recall what other (if any) tryptamines were being sold as well) got caught up in the bust, too! But I know that AMT was also a victim (hey, if we can charge objects with being criminals, they can be victims, too!)
posted by symbioid at 6:40 AM on November 1, 2010


Chocolate Pickle wrote "He, and all his customers, were stricken with severe symptoms of Parkinson's disease."

Yeah, that's kind of my worry. Not so much about the nature of the effects of synthetics on people as the concern that the guy making the synthetic might screw up and end up making something really, really nasty.

Sure, you go buy your drugs on the street*, you have no idea what they may be laced with or cut with or what have you - but if the drug is a natural extract of something there's far less chance that it contains a substance that is going to fry your brain or make you permanently damaged or so on just because someone heated it too long, or added the wrong chiral form of something, or forgot to add enough of one substance or too much of another.

If you're going to take stuff, the old standard of "no pills, no powders, if it grows in the ground it's probably OK" is not a bad motto if you want to avoid brain damage. The synthetic stuff scares me. The big drug companies screw up sometimes, and they have some really strict quality control. How are you going to trust your brain to guys like Llewellyn? What kind of quality control does he have? How much do you think he really cares about your brain?

I imagine his response would be somwhere along the lines of "Hey, it says on the tin not for humans, if you took it and went schizo that's your problem, not mine."

*One of my favorite quotes from a friend - "You know why pot is a gateway drug? Because you have to go to a drug dealer to buy it. THAT'S why."
posted by caution live frogs at 8:03 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the most redonkulous sentence in the English language ever published:

A new synthetic drug similar to marijuana is increasingly popular, for instance.

Can you imagine having to make a synthetic version of something that grows like a god damn weed (ahem) without barely any human intervention because you can smoke it and it makes you want to lay on the couch and eat cheetos?
posted by spicynuts at 8:52 AM on November 1, 2010


if it grows in the ground it's probably OK

Please do not ever go mushroom hunting.
posted by spicynuts at 8:59 AM on November 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you're going to take stuff, the old standard of "no pills, no powders, if it grows in the ground it's probably OK" is not a bad motto if you want to avoid brain damage.

That is stupid on so many levels, I don't know where to start.
posted by empath at 9:05 AM on November 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you're going to take stuff, the old standard of "no pills, no powders, if it grows in the ground it's probably OK" is not a bad motto if you want to avoid brain damage.

Nightshade? Hemlock?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:54 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're going to take stuff, the old standard of "no pills, no powders, if it grows in the ground it's probably OK" is not a bad motto if you want to avoid brain damage.

Nightshade? Hemlock?


Guys, he's talking about sampling stuff being passed around at a party, not literally eating random bits of flora in an attempt to get high.
posted by heathkit at 10:37 AM on November 1, 2010


Tobacco, salvia, dmt, jimson weed?

There is a lot of natural shit that will fuck you up in unpleasant ways.

For that matter-- opium and cocaine.

And you're putting them up against what? MDMA, LSD, 2cb?

I don't see how where it came from is at a valid reason to prefer one over any other.
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


The question of whether a new drug of unknown quality might be likely to mess you up completely has an answer. Its name is curiosity. As long as we can search the space of new highs, we will, and the edges of that space are the places you get fucked up. Its like inflating a balloon.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:24 PM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: "Once we really *really* understand neuroscience and chemistry the drugs are going to be insane and dangerous and available over the counter or in a construct-your-own kit."

This prompts an obligatory shout out to Vurt. IMHO, one of the truly great SF novels of the past 50 years that managed to be both "futuristic" *and* say something deep about the Madchester culture of the time.
posted by meehawl at 7:57 PM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a chemist I am torn a bit by this article. I have the skills to do exactly what this guy is doing and he is probably making a fortune off of it. I am used to turning chemicals into other more expensive chemicals (just made £25000 of an anticancer compound for a collaborator) and the idea of making a kilo or two of something MUCH easier to make is very tempting.

I've seen breaking bad and I completely empathize with the main character because that is exactly what I would try to do. If I knew that I was going to die within a couple of years I would do my darnedest to make sure my family was set for life.

(I probably wouldn't make meth instead would go for supplying the country with some good LSD for a couple of years a kilo would go far when a dose is only 100 micrograms)

If I were to personally do some mind altering substances I would most certainly make them myself also. I know what I am doing and they would be the purest compounds you could find. The lure of profit is too tempting and the risks are just too great though so that keeps me on the straight and narrow. Someone once asked me how hard meth was to make and why did it blow up so many trailers. It is really easy to make if you have the skills, but rather a different thing if you are using a prep from the internet and boiling things on a stove. Using heating mantles and round bottom flasks just makes things so much simpler.
posted by koolkat at 7:01 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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