March 7, 2002
8:20 AM   Subscribe

Designer Drugs and Raves - Second Edition (PDF). A Royal Canadian Mounted Police document designed to educate and inform police officers and social workers alike, complete with helpful photos of "The Candy Raver".

The result of a three-year 'intelligence probe' into the rave scene, it's an interesting read, and a fairly good indication of the Canadian government's attitude towards increasing drug use at raves and nightclubs.
posted by Jairus (33 comments total)
...produced by the Drug Enforcement Branch, "E" Division.
posted by Jairus at 8:23 AM on March 7, 2002

in september 2001, before our lives all made a drastic turn for the grim, i started going to raves and taking the evil drug ecstacy. i enjoyed it, but didn't like the two weeks of depression that followed while my serationin crawled back up to normal levels. consequently, i didn't make it a habit.

how do you spot the narc at a rave? look for the fourty year old bodybuilder with a soft gut, sitting on his own stool in a corner, watching the dance floor. if you come early enough you will actually see him bringing the stool in, which is hilarious. he will be smoking a lot of cigarettes, drinking coffee and talking to no one. should you approach the narc and ask "want a sticker?" or "want a sucker, man?" with the tender affection of ecstacy, you will be replied to with only a gruff "no".

ironically, the narc has his back to the front door when the man who *everyone* rushes to see comes in. there's nothing on the dance floor but dancing.
posted by will at 8:56 AM on March 7, 2002

-Not- double-post, but related article here and related discussion thar.
posted by SpecialK at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2002

I started reading the report and got really annoyed by the typos and grammatical errors.
posted by spnx at 8:58 AM on March 7, 2002

That is an excellent little book, Jairus! Thanks for digging it up. I think it presented a well-balanced view of the drugs, risks, and uses. It's not every day that a government pamphlet gives the thumbs-up to 'shrooms, f'rinstance. :-)

I'll never do E. The serotonin depletion would, in all likelyhood, kill me.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 AM on March 7, 2002

That is an excellent bit of writing.

Will - 2 weeks of depression? points more to troubles with you than the drug methinks.
posted by Frasermoo at 9:19 AM on March 7, 2002

fransermoo - depression was a bad word to use, i must be more specific with these things. it wasn't two full weeks of depression, more like a few days of feeling "bummed out" and then a week or so of feeling just not 100% chipper. 2 weeks is the generally accepted period of time that it takes for your brain to build up it's seratonin reserves.

for more information on ecstacy and its effects on the brain, see the informative this is your brain on ecstacy slideshow at how they make neurochemistry fun is beyond me.
posted by will at 9:27 AM on March 7, 2002

Really nice book, that, and one which is equally appropriate to read no matter which side of the law you're on.

It seems that poppers aren't used any more, or at least not in that area. I have a funny story about spilling a bottle in my kitchen with all the windows in the house closed, but enough about that.
posted by SiW at 9:39 AM on March 7, 2002

If you have a seratonin problem, you just have to take the right supplements with the E, like 5HTP, available over the counter in the US. There's another one too, a liquid, forgot what it was called, but it instantly annulled the intense depression I started to feel when I was coming down.
posted by bingo at 9:57 AM on March 7, 2002

will, cool slide show, dancesafe deserves some sort of medal. what's fascinating is i saw a peice about them on "Dateline" or something where they tested the X for the kids, and even when they showed the kids that what they were taking wasn't X, the kids *still* popped them.

which showed to me that it isn't what the X does or does not do to our bodies that we should be worried about, it's what is it about lots of young people who would take something without even knowing what the heck it is.

now excuse me while i walk outside for a smoke break.
posted by tsarfan at 9:58 AM on March 7, 2002

pretty well done:

for everything they got wrong, they got quite a bit right. my one complaint, i suppose, is that they take everything a bit too seriously -- rave culture, honestly, is not as organized as they seem to think; still, as much as it sucked when our parties got busted, i'm glad the cops are out there now, because things that hardly ever used to happen at parties are becoming regular occurences as the scene gets more mainstream (fights, etc.). also: I've seen some crazy O.D.s at parties. one of my most vibrant memories of a guy stripping down to his boxers and kicking in a windshield while under the influence of lsd and methampetamines. so yeah, sometimes the promoter needs a little help on crowd control.

anyhow, most of the people i know have stopped being really involved with the scene, for various reasons, but primarily because "raves" (i add quotes because i make a distinction here that is hard to explain and mostly emerges from a jaded perspective) have ceased to be about music. it's pretty much second generation now, and from all appearances, it's mostly a place for kids to get incredibly intoxicated. not that we were angels, but most of these kids going to parties now don't even dance -- they just sit around in circles, and look at you hard if you're not wearing what has become the raver-uniform. also: the DJs -- besides the euro imports -- are terrible (and even some of the fly-ins aren't very good). i much prefer clubs, at this point, or small parties that don't play trance/house.

bah, i guess i've become the old grumpy raver. i'll go back to reading xlr8r and shaking my fist at those darn candy kids (of course, xlr8r is nowhere near as good as when... er, yeah.).
posted by fishfucker at 10:32 AM on March 7, 2002

i'm missing some verbs there and stuff, but hopefully you'll get the idea.
posted by fishfucker at 10:35 AM on March 7, 2002

Two quick points:
It's always best to counteract the effects of drugs with other drugs.
Any drugs are better when mixed with other drugs.
posted by goneill at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2002

what's frightening about the "scene" is the attitude some of these kids have towards things much worse for you than mdma, e.g. pcp is not uncommon now and doesn't have that sketchy stigma it had in my day
posted by juv3nal at 12:52 PM on March 7, 2002

Eek! juv3nal: where are you that that's happening? The dance community here (Seattle) certainly doesn't see any of that, nor do the communities I know in LA and SF.
posted by arielmeadow at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2002

i want helpful photos of candy goths*. they're supercreepy.

*unholy union of goth and raver.
posted by patricking at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2002

I suppose it depends where you live and who you know, juv3nal... In my experience, if you tell someone that you did PCP, they'd look at you as though you told them you'd just eaten baby brains.

patricking: They're called Gravers, and they hold regular events, here in Toronto. You don't want the helpful photos, trust me.
posted by Jairus at 1:18 PM on March 7, 2002

I do organic chemistry research for a living. I use purified solvents and reagents in a clean lab under controlled conditions. I have instruments (NMR, MS) that allow me to see what's in the things I make. Thus, I know that all kinds of things can get into these reactions even under the best circumstances. MDMA and other synthetic drugs are made in garages and illicit labs for profit which means they are using "tech grade" (cheapest and dirtiest) solvents and reagents and are likely not rigorously purified after the final synthesis step. I'm not coming from a moral high-ground here, just a practical safety standpoint: You are OUT OF YOUR MIND if you eat this stuff!!!! Nevermind the questionable safety of eating the actual drug...the other shit that's in there (and believe me, there is a ton of other shit in there, even in the 'purest' stuff) is gonna poison you a little bit (or lot) at a time.
posted by plaino at 2:21 PM on March 7, 2002

i enjoyed it, but didn't like the two weeks of depression that followed while my serationin crawled back up to normal levels.

It's more likely you were recovering from being poisoned.
posted by plaino at 2:24 PM on March 7, 2002

I sure as heck want to look at the graver photos. Sign me up for the next event in SoCal.
posted by bingo at 2:47 PM on March 7, 2002

Rave culture, huh? Colorful costumes, mysterious drugs, wild sex, repetitive electronic music?

Sounds Familiar. :)
posted by jonmc at 3:16 PM on March 7, 2002

plaino: Depends on your source. Having seen a whole host of GC/MS drug analysis results, it seems to me like the amount of contamination really depends on where the drugs are coming from. Most samples I've seen from the US have been significantly more dirty than Dutch, or Canadian samples. Some results showed that the MDMA was near medical-grade levels of purity, others had lighter fluid in them.

It's a risk either way, but I don't think the contamination problem is as large as you seem to think it is.
posted by Jairus at 4:35 PM on March 7, 2002

It's a risk, just as with many things in life. But where you can reduce your risks when on your bike by wearing a helmet, or parachuting by wearing a parachute, how are you going to reduce the risks when popping illegal drugs? Unless you know the guy who's synthing 'em, you can't.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:21 PM on March 7, 2002

Yes, you can, in many cases. For example, with regard to the drug we're talking about, you can drink plenty of water.
posted by bingo at 6:37 PM on March 7, 2002

Careful not to drink too much water, though. Too much can be worse than not enough.

If you have access to GC/MS machines at a university, you can also find out what's in the pill itself, which can be useful if you have a large quantity from the same batch (as the pill is destroyed in the analysis).

Less sophisticated tests are available, using Marquis Reagent, to determine the main psychoactive ingredients of your drugs from a scraping of the pill, although this won't tell you anything about filler, binders, or quality.

There are also a few chemicals that have been shown to reduce or eliminate low-dose MDMA neurotoxicity, when used correctly.
posted by Jairus at 8:33 PM on March 7, 2002

How is drinking water going to work as a preventative against contanimation, Bingo?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 PM on March 7, 2002

It's not. It's going to reduce risk of adverse effects from the drug in general. The most common problem experienced in conjunction with E is dehydration.
posted by bingo at 9:14 PM on March 7, 2002


Still won't be popping E any time soon. I really don't think I could cope with the aftershock.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:53 PM on March 7, 2002

Having seen a whole host of GC/MS drug analysis results, it seems to me like the amount of contamination really depends on where the drugs are coming from.

If you have access to GC/MS machines at a university, you can also find out what's in the pill itself, which can be useful if you have a large quantity from the same batch

As with any instrumentation method GC/MS is limited to only the kinds of molecules it was designed to see. In this case it will see volatile small molecules that have a chromophore, unless you are using one of the really expensive detectors that doesn't rely un UV absorption. So GC/MS is certainly suitable for seeing MDMA itself and closely related impurities, but it won't see the higher molecular weight contaminants, metals, and non-aromatic components any of which could be very hazardous even in minute quantities. Incidentally these are exactly the kind of contaminants low grade solvents are full of.
posted by plaino at 7:41 AM on March 8, 2002

I should correct myself on one point here. LC/MS relies on a UV detector and GC (without MS) uses a flame ionization detector but I don't know what detector, if any, is used for GC/MS. This still doesn't change the fact that it won't see high molecular weight and metal contaminants.
posted by plaino at 7:58 AM on March 8, 2002

I don't know about anybody else, but I don't find I have any depression after taking E. If anything, I feel far better and more energetic versus having been out drinking the night before. If anything, I find with limited use, E has a follow through essence an E hangover leaves you still tapping your toes and feeling happy the next day. In addition, you have to consider the healthy effects of dancing and drinking alot of water for4-8 hours. It is a great workout and really flushes out your system. I find the wording of the report very biased and would like to see what they would say regarding the effects of alcohol use by youngsters. They point a handful of deaths over the past several years. How many youngsters have died as a result of alcohol use during the same time period? I have recently attended a few all ages reves lately and I think the scene is far healthier than what I was doing when I was 13-17.
posted by Alfieri at 10:05 AM on March 8, 2002

I emailed plaino's first long post above re organic chemistry and the chance of getting poisoned with impure E, to the person who is my main source of info re drug chemistry and rave culture. His reply (given upon condition of anonymity) is below:

* * *

Actually, [plaino's post is] not really that far off. Most of the street stuff is impure, often intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. What the poster does not consider however is that spectography and other methods are
not only available to 'legitimate' chemists. Here's the whole force behind the harm-reduction movement: if people can have access to not only information but resources to guarantee the purity and safety of their compounds, they will be less at risk. Hence organizations like DanceSafe have made arrangements with private labs who do have the equipment necessary to analyze chemical makeup of random pills and powders so people can verify their sources before they put themselves at unnecessary risk.

Please refer people to EcstasyData, CheckIt!, and DanceSafe.

CheckIt! lists exact amounts of component compounds in the pills/powder provided and can include spectographs, where as US-based labs cannot list anything but composition by law.

The primary risk from 'dirty' synthesis is paramethoxyamphetamine, which can be toxic and does get into the market occasionally. On the whole, I would have to agree with the poster that taking any street drug without due precaution is unwise.

Of course, without getting personal, have your source remember that there is significant money in the street organic chemistry market, and that killing or poisoning your customers tends to be bad for business. His sense that he is a superior chemist with superior lab resources may be flawed in some markets.

* * *
posted by bingo at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2002

Graver girls.
posted by bingo at 1:32 AM on March 12, 2002

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