Designer Drugs Make Government’s “War” on Drugs Redundant

4mmcThere are so many new synthetic “designer” drugs becoming available on the streets that governments just can’t keep up, reports the Guardian, concluding that “The war on drugs has not been lost, it has been made obsolete”:

The term “designer drug” became popular with the acid house and ecstasy boom in the 1990s, but it was never really accurate. The main ingredient in ecstasy pills – MDMA – was first synthesised in 1912 and began its life as a recreational drug in 70s California, years before it became notorious on the rave scene. The drug was never created for the party crowd, but the “designer drug” label stuck as the perfect phrase both to glamorise and demonise the fashionable new high.

There have been some genuine attempts at designer drugs through the years – where people have attempted to create new recreational substances to evade drug laws – but most have been abject failures. In the most notorious example, chemistry student Barry Kidston tried to create a synthetic heroin-like high in 1976 and ended up creating MPTP, a substance so neurotoxic that it gave him Parkinson’s disease days after he injected it. As a grim consolation, Kidston’s only legacy was to create a drug that is still used today in lab experiments to try and understand this debilitating neurological disorder.

But something has changed on the street drug scene in recent years. For the first time, we can use the term “designer drug” with confidence because we are in the midst of an unnerving scientific revolution in the use and supply of mind-altering substances.

These drugs have hit the headlines under names such as Spice, K2, mephedrone and M-Cat, but there are hundreds more. They are sold euphemistically as “bath salts”, “incense” or “research chemicals”, and don’t get regulated, at least not at first, because they are labelled as “not for human consumption”. Unlike previous generations of legal highs that were about as recreational as a slap in the face, they actually work. They get you high.

The two most popular types are synthetic, cannabis-like drugs, sold as smokable plant material, and stimulants, similar to ecstasy and amphetamines. But what makes this a revolution, rather than simply a market innovation, is the scale and speed of drug development…

[continues in the Guardian]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

38 Comments on "Designer Drugs Make Government’s “War” on Drugs Redundant"

  1. Protip: Never…. Ever… Do bath salts.

    • Quiet, I need to round up a dozen or so idiots willing to go face eating crazy on them. Then I will put them all in an abandoned building and charge people to go hunt real zombies.

      • I had the horrible Idea of doing a bath salts for a week(with meth)… it ended with me running through the streets of Nola thinking the world was trying to kill me and that I was dying from a heart attack at the same time… I stopped to ask a cop for a ride to the hospital, and then wind up thrashing around in the back of his cruiser, Biting one of them, kicking another, getting strapped down to a gurney, then breaking the straps to said gurney… Got sedate twice I can remember, and apparently 5 or 6 more times after that. my heart rate was 165 when I had it measured, and it was more than likely like that the entire experience… this wasn’t on the stuff, this was coming down while smoking weed.

        Also I managed to evade all hospital bills and criminal charges, I’m not sure how. Regardless I am never doing that shit again.

        • InfvoCuernos | Jun 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

          wow, bath salts and meth? Do you remember the thought process that led to that combo, or was this just the usual New Orleans high jinx?

          • 5 months without a job combined with complete lack of sex life for that time period combined with a friends Idea to make some money by working with a local dealer equals the worst mistake in my life… just after my first girlfriend and joining the army

          • on the other hand, I think that is the normal new orleans high jinx

        • The Well Dressed Man | Jun 17, 2013 at 10:18 pm |

          Not surprised at all! I tried to live in New Orleans for about a month, and it was just way too much of this kind of sketchy fun…

    • The Well Dressed Man | Jun 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm |

      It’s risky business. But this is largely due to ambiguous product labeling. What is in the packet? How pure? Some of these chems are very active at doses of less than 5mg, and sold in quarter-gram pouches. Not something to eyeball. MDVP and Mephedrone experiences seem to vary greatly. If I actually know which RC, I’m willing to experiment. The horror stories seem to be coming from people with little drug experience overdosing on these weird and powerful stims.

  2. mole_face | Jun 17, 2013 at 10:50 am |

    The government can keep up – they just choose not to.

    The federal analogue act that was passed in the early 2000s should’ve made the designer drug market obsolete. It’s no coincidence that this whole resurgence of the “research chemical” scene popped up immediately before a mainstream media push for the legalization of weed started gaining traction.

    I’ve had a theory for awhile that this current massive legal high scene is a testing ground for a forthcoming libertarian drug policy. Almost nothing has been done on a federal level to stop these drugs, only on a state level, even though the government has blatantly known about synthetic marijuana for almost a half decade now.

    It’s also no coincidence that this has all been happening concurrently with the libertarian slanted disinformation propaganda the establishment has been furiously pushing on us- Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, etc.

    It’s an exciting time to be alive.

    • mole_face | Jun 17, 2013 at 10:56 am |

      Also –

      It’s best to wait until more steps are taken to make the real stuff legal. Someone Who Definitely Isn’t Me fucked around with synthetic cannabinoids for awhile, and he told me that they’re loads of fun but also extremely dangerous. He said they’re also far too psychoactive for the average person to handle. SWDIM had a close friend who basically turned into a crackhead and let her life collapse after getting into that stuff, even though real weed never had that same detrimental effect on her.

      The old crop of synthetic cannabinoids that were eventually banned by a bunch of states were probably highly carcinogenic, and the current ones floating around the scene are all even sketchier and have serious toxicity issues.

      • InfvoCuernos | Jun 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

        I have heard this about the Marijuana substitutes before. It sounds like exactly the evil type of shit that big pharma loves to pull: let’s replace this easy to obtain and grow weed with a synthetic chemical that will cost outrageous sums and make the user hopelessly dependent on it, and will carry a long list of side effects that will conveniently have treatments that we will provide(for a fee, of course). Your local high school pot dealer doesn’t seem so evil now.

        • mole_face | Jun 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm |

          Definitely. I’ve realized this is what’s probably happening since the huge Spice bust back in 09. It’s scary shit – we’re seeing the modern day equivalent of CIA ghetto drugs.

          SWDIM feels fucking terrible that he got his close friend into that stuff. He was able to handle it because he’s a very strong willed person who’d previously quit cigarettes, alcohol, etc completely on his own through sheer will. He introduced her to this stuff and then within two years she’d dropped out of school, defaulted on her student loans, lost her house, and then shacked up with a sociopathic gangbanger who lives with her rent free and controls her with synthetic weed. Scary shit, man. The guy feels fucking terrible, even though he does realize that individuals have to take responsibility for their own actions. Most people are unfortunately incapable of handling that responsibility, even though a surprisingly large number of people actually are.

          The end to prohibition will be a double edged sword, for sure. They’re going to need to have a really good treatment system set up to help people who aren’t equipped to handle that sort of personal freedom after spending most of their lives coddled by the prohibitionist nanny state we’ve all been living under.

          • mole_face | Jun 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

            One final interesting point –

            Anyone who was around for the beginning of this current massive legal high scene in the mid 2000s remembers the initial products – Spice, then Spice Gold, then Spice Diamond etc.

            Interesting little factoid about Spice: the front of the foil packages were stamped with a giant Eye of Horus, of all things -“their” calling card.

            I’m sure this has dawned on a lot of other people too at this point, and I’ve just been keeping it to myself out of paranoia over airing this blatant stuff in public during the height of the surveillance state. It couldn’t be any more obvious what’s actually going on though, and I’m sure others have noticed it by now, so I’m not exactly going out on a limb by putting it out there like this.

            Not that I would know anything about this stuff anyway – this guy Someone Who Definitely Isn’t Me seems quite knowledgeable about this shit though, so I take him on his word.

          • mole_face | Jun 17, 2013 at 5:32 pm |

            I honestly don’t know why I even put comments like this out there anymore when it’s openly admitted that all electronic communication is stored in databases.

            I guess it’s pretty narcissistic to want to openly take credit for realizing all of this shit instead of just keeping it to myself like I’ve been doing all of these years. It’s interesting to watch how observations like this spread online though. It’s like a virus.. more and more people will realize what’s going on, and “they” actually want us to realize this – hence the blatant “Illuminati” symbolism on the Spice bags back in the mid 2000s.

            I’ve realized recently that as long as we don’t physically oppose the system, “they” want us to all know what’s going on and to spread this knowledge online. Our society is on the verge of becoming a libertarian utopia/dystopia – the mutant offspring of 1984 and Brave New World.

            Like i said, it’s a fucking exciting time to be alive.

            Or maybe I’m just insane. Either way.

          • H.P.BVSSCRVFT | Jun 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm |

            I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright glory, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, & be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie, this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.

          • mole_face | Jun 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

            Hi guys!

            I just want you to know that I really do appreciate what you’re transforming our society into right now.

            But just a couple pointers – I could really do without all the murdering and torturing and shit. I understand that you see it as a necessary evil, but it’s still evil.

            Still though, overall I’d give your plan (aka “the process of transformation” that was initiated through the sacrifice you committed on 911) a B+. Keep up the (mostly) good work!

  3. DrDavidKelly | Jun 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm |

    In Australia they have taken synthetic weed-like substances off the shelves for 120 days while they work out what to do. Apparently some kid got high on the stuff and jumped out of a window. But it’s the same old story – if they were really concerned for our health they would take tobacco and alcohol off the shelves.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Jun 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm |

    I’m willing to bet that
    the people using designer drugs
    also consume designer fast food & designer energy drinks

    • not that im keen on synthetics myself, but designer drug users are often quite intelligent. they’re usually connoisseurs and well-travelled in inner space. designer drugs are usually strange hallucinogens like 2cb and amt and mdma. Alexander Shulgin was a designer drug creator. Those types tend to walk apart from the mainstream.
      again, in no way do I condone what they do. but they’re not smoking spice(which I don’t think is considered a designer drug)

      • BuzzCoastin | Jun 18, 2013 at 12:16 am |

        to each their own
        but I prefer Nature’s designs
        I’m pretty sure that bath salts, meth et al
        are acceptable to those who also consume
        synthetic fast foods

    • Make pot legal and we’ll not need all these others..actually make all of them legal we send our people off to fight in wars why should we care whose doing drugs that’ll kill at home ? actually no-one dies smokin’ pot unless some nut ball cop shoots you..not counting those sicko cartel types!! their all money nuts just like our Legal system…War on Drugs= cashcow for both defence and prosecuters its just like cancer! big business cure will never be found!

  5. The Well Dressed Man | Jun 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm |

    I’ve done some pretty extensive independent pharmacological research over the years. Truth is, any substance purchased from the black market is suspect, especially in powder form. Grey market products are no less sketchy. Nothing that has been written about synthetic cannabinoids makes me curious enough to try, but, then again, the real thing is openly sold everywhere for those rare occasions when I might actually partake.

  6. Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Jun 17, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

    Legal recreational drugs are more dangerous than pharmaceutical medicine. And that takes something special.

    Of course, there’s plants that both entertain and medicate relatively safely at little-to-no cost. It would seem to be a sensible option. But if you do pursue that avenue, be forewarned: men with guns will shoot your dog in the night and throw you in a dark place where you will be raped.

    That tempers my enthusiasm.

    • there are plenty of legal recreational “drugs” that are far less dangerous than pharmaceuticals, actually. and some of them may be growing in yer back yard or at yer local garden center. pros and cons to most entheogens, but safer than pharmacuticals.

      • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Jun 18, 2013 at 7:32 am |

        Plenty, yes, and safe(ish) – IF – people know what they are doing. I had one particularly useful and extremely safe plant in mind when I wrote that.

        There are spectra of risk for every substance and each individual. These synthetic poisons seem legitimately dangerous though. They’re produced with all the cynical profit motive of industrial medicine, and don’t even pretend at a fig leaf of safety research.

  7. geminihigh | Jun 18, 2013 at 9:17 am |

    The term designer drug never made sense to me, even in high school before I ever had a sip, puff, or sniff of anything other than caffeine and sugar. Did Versace or Armani have a trademark on their E pills? (Well, actually, yeah, some of them did and still do from time to time, but thats beside the point since its copyright infringement) I can see the author’s point as to why its a valid term nowadays. The term “research chemical” is pretty silly too, IMO. LSD is the most researched of all the psychedelics and the standard to which all others are compared, but its still needs a hell of a lot more research done on it. Its still a RC in my opinion, just like mescaline, psilocybin, THC/CBD, MDMA, etc etc etc. Even that good old hair of the dog still has secrets of its own that have yet to be ascertained.

    The first gen of “spice” was awesome, really impressive. For some unlucky souls, it was WAY TOO DAMN IMPRESSIVE. Then came the bad shit. And then it only got worse from there. God only knows what sprayed on couch stuffing. The first wave of bath salts were supposedly pretty good, but not up par with meth or yayo from what I heard. I think the face eating zombie phenomenon is not caused by mephedrone and the like alone. Personally, I think some nefarious elements of the intelligence community are testing out a few new substances destined for military applications by placing them in bath salts. They are still searching for their perfect “Ladder”, of the Jacob Singer variety.

    • Apathesis | Jun 23, 2013 at 5:58 am |

      The “zombie” in Florida only had THC in his system. The speculation that he was on bath salts was wild, unsubstantiated conjecture. But you are right about Spice being dangerous. The guy who ate the dog was first accused of being high on bath salts and it turned out it was Spice.

      • You can smoke cannabis last month and it’ll show up in in your system today..lousy trump card the law uses!

  8. an these are worse than the illegal ones…

  9. Noah_Nine | Jun 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm |

    “we have not seen a massive increase in problem users” completely untrue…. i have friend that went on a six month bathsalts binge and ended up in the psych ward for trying to kill his girlfriend…. there were
    like 10-15 kids in their drug circle…. normally he’s a fairly mellow guy…. that stuff made him crazy…. he’s still not quite right a year later…

    • Noah_Nine | Jun 22, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

      i know it sounds like a swim story but it’s a swidm story….

    • This government makes me crazy..actually too date the last 4 in America have made me crazy..lets get rid of them. make pot legal, war illegal and get back to life!!

Comments are closed.