Chemists Stay One Step Ahead Of War On Some Drugs

Mephedrone

Mephedrone

Cat and mouse plays out in the war on some drugs, chemistry set edition. Jeanne Whalen reports for the Wall Street Journal:

ANTWERP, Belgium—When the housing market crashed in 2008, David Llewellyn’s construction business went with it. Casting around for a new gig, he decided to commercialize something he’d long done as a hobby: making drugs.

But the 49-year-old Scotsman didn’t go into the illegal drug trade. Instead, he entered the so-called “legal high” business—a burgeoning industry producing new psychoactive powders and pills that are marketed as “not for human consumption.”

Mr. Llewellyn, a self-described former crack addict, started out making mephedrone, a stimulant also known as Meow Meow that was already popular with the European clubbing set. Once governments began banning it earlier this year, Mr. Llewellyn and a chemistry-savvy partner started selling something they dubbed Nopaine—a stimulant they concocted by tweaking the molecular structure of the attention-deficit drug Ritalin.

Nopaine “is every bit as good as cocaine,” says Mr. Llewellyn, who has lived in Antwerp on and off since the late 1980s. “You can freebase it. You can snort it like crack.” Still, he emphasized, “Everything we sell is legal. I don’t want to go to jail for 14 years.”

Mr. Llewellyn is part of a wave of laboratory-adept European entrepreneurs who see gold in the gray zone between legal and illegal drugs. They pose a stiff challenge for European law-enforcement, which is struggling to keep up with all the new concoctions. Last year, 24 new “psychoactive substances” were identified in Europe, almost double the number reported in 2008, according to the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, or EMCDDA.

The problem is also touching U.S. shores. A new synthetic drug similar to marijuana is increasingly popular, for instance. Some states have started banning it. But many of the other substances and stimulants vexing Europe are less of an issue in the U.S., according to a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]

, , ,

  • mole_face

    I never got articles like this. It honestly reads to me like a thinly veiled advertisement for the products. If I were unfamiliar with the “legal high” market, this article would make me shit my pants with excitement as soon as it mentions “a new synthetic drug similar to marijuana”. I wasn’t even familiar with nopaine until reading about it in this article, but I’ve gotta say it sounds pretty swell. Thanks Wall Street Journal!

    • Alech

      And then it will be banned and an even shittier more dangerous substitute will be found and more people will die unnecessarily.
      Legalise the good stuff already. It won’t save everybody, but it beats this legal death spiral hands down.

      • mole_face

        There doesn’t appear to be any more risk to the body or brain associated with synthetic cannabinoids than the naturally occurring variety, other than the theoretical carcinogenic properties of some. The very fact that this stuff has existed on a large scale for so long makes me think that the establishment has their hand in this market somehow and is using it as a testing ground for a slightly more libertarian drug policy. I mean, you can actually buy nopaine freebase online – essentially crack. Where did crack come from the first time around? But yeah, obviously the earth provides all the recreational or medicinal drugs that anyone could ever need.

  • fuzzgun

    I never got articles like this. It honestly reads to me like a thinly veiled advertisement for the products. If I were unfamiliar with the “legal high” market, this article would make me shit my pants with excitement as soon as it mentions “a new synthetic drug similar to marijuana”. I wasn’t even familiar with nopaine until reading about it in this article, but I’ve gotta say it sounds pretty swell. Thanks Wall Street Journal!

  • Alech

    And then it will be banned and an even shittier more dangerous substitute will be found and more people will die unnecessarily.
    Legalise the good stuff already. It won’t save everybody, but it beats this legal death spiral hands down.

  • Haystack

    Hunter S. Thompson would have done a much better job covering this story.

  • Haystack

    Hunter S. Thompson would have done a much better job covering this story.

  • fuzzgun

    There doesn’t appear to be any more risk to the body or brain associated with synthetic cannabinoids than the naturally occurring variety, other than the theoretical carcinogenic properties of some. The very fact that this stuff has existed on a large scale for so long makes me think that the establishment has their hand in this market somehow and is using it as a testing ground for a slightly more libertarian drug policy. I mean, you can actually buy nopaine freebase online – essentially crack. Where did crack come from the first time around? But yeah, obviously the earth provides all the recreational or medicinal drugs that anyone could ever need.

  • Anonymous

    Did he say “you can snort it like crack”??
    You don’t snort crack…you smoke it dumbass…and these drugs will probably kill you faster than heroine or Coke.!!!

  • manitoidman

    Did he say “you can snort it like crack”??
    You don’t snort crack…you smoke it dumbass…and these drugs will probably kill you faster than heroine or Coke.!!!

  • Anonymous

    There was a big scare campaign against Mephedrone in the British press last year. Some teenagers died and the politicians rushed to ban it. It later turned out they had died of a combination of Methadone and alcohol, the deadly potential of this combination has been known for quite some time. Mephedrone or Methadone, apparently journalists and politicians don’t know, or care, about any distinction. I suspect Methadone is too old to fit the the tried and tested narrative of “beware good citizens, there’s a new danger in town, it’s lurking in the shadows in order to prey on your children!“. For fear mongering journalists and politicians moral outrage itself is a like a drug, it boosts their performance while luring them away from rationality.

  • Tchoutoye

    There was a big scare campaign against Mephedrone in the British press last year. Some teenagers died and the politicians rushed to ban it. It later turned out they had died of a combination of Methadone and alcohol, the deadly potential of this combination has been known for quite some time. Mephedrone or Methadone, apparently journalists and politicians don’t know, or care, about any distinction. I suspect Methadone is too old to fit the the tried and tested narrative of “beware good citizens, there’s a new danger in town, it’s lurking in the shadows in order to prey on your children!“. For fear mongering journalists and politicians moral outrage itself is a like a drug, it boosts their performance while luring them away from rationality.

  • http://www.frimobil.se Markus 3 Dahm

    Legalize the natural stuff and regulate it. Banning just seems to spawn the hydra if you follow me? Chop one head off two grow back. At least we know the long historical use of the others and the well documented health benefits and dangers. What science is it on the new ones? Prohibition is actually creating a greater danger. If people want to get high, they WILL find a way to get high. It is a war you can never win.

    http://www.frimobil.se Låsa upp din mobil
    mobile phone unlocking 

  • http://www.frimobil.se Markus 3 Dahm

    Legalize the natural stuff and regulate it. Banning just seems to spawn the hydra if you follow me? Chop one head off two grow back. At least we know the long historical use of the others and the well documented health benefits and dangers. What science is it on the new ones? Prohibition is actually creating a greater danger. If people want to get high, they WILL find a way to get high. It is a war you can never win.

    http://www.frimobil.se Låsa upp din mobil
    mobile phone unlocking 

  • http://www.frimobil.se Markus 3 Dahm

    Legalize the natural stuff and regulate it. Banning just seems to spawn the hydra if you follow me? Chop one head off two grow back. At least we know the long historical use of the others and the well documented health benefits and dangers. What science is it on the new ones? Prohibition is actually creating a greater danger. If people want to get high, they WILL find a way to get high. It is a war you can never win.

    http://www.frimobil.se Låsa upp din mobil
    mobile phone unlocking