Drug Policy

The Mystery of Cloud 9: How Drug Laws Make Drugs More Dangerous



Have you heard about Cloud 9, the terrifying new synthetic drug sweeping the country? As I explain in my latest Forbes column, trying to pin down exactly what Cloud 9 is provides a lesson in the perverse effects of drug prohibition. Here is how the piece starts:

This week NBC News broadcast a story about Cloud 9, "a dangerous new synthetic drug that's been turning up at high schools." Anchorman Lester Holt warned that Cloud 9 is "legal, unregulated and readily available at convenience stores"; that it "has sent almost two dozen young people to the hospital this year in Michigan alone"; and that "it has already prompted one county to issue an emergency order banning its sale as an imminent danger to public health." In the report that followed Holt's introduction, correspondent John Yang described Cloud 9 as "a clear liquid" with "no aroma other than a faint fruity smell" that can be discreetly consumed in an e-cigarette and "cannot be detected by standard drug tests." According to Yang, the drug's effects "include hallucinations, agitation and severe vomiting," as well as "seizures, strokes and heart attacks."

Cloud 9 seems carefully designed to be every parent's nightmare and every yellow journalist's dream. But what is it, exactly, and what are its effects, aside from the hallucinations, agitation, severe vomiting, seizures, strokes, and heart attacks mentioned by Yang, which presumably are not what attracts people to it? NBC was vague on those points, and so is the local press coverage from which it cribbed much of its story. It turns out that lots of people think you should worry about Cloud 9, but very few of them know what it is.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. “Have you heard about Cloud 9, the terrifying new synthetic drug sweeping the country?”


  2. C’mon gang. One of you has given this a go. What’s the deal?

    1. It was insane… i couldn’t feel my legs for a week… i woke up with hair all over me, like i’d been raped by a pack of wolves…. i had dreams about my dead cousin…jesus, second cousin…. who now lived behind my toilet…. i cried for 6 hours into the hotel phone demanding to speak to the pope…. and to think, this stuff is *legal*

      – Maureen Dowd

  3. Obligatory:

    CIA Unveils New Ghetto Drugs


  4. This simply adds to the confusion that your average street dealers have to deal with on a daily basis: so many drugs that no one can even keep their names straight. The kids are so gobbered out on spazballs that you can’t even smell it on their breath like you used to.

  5. Oh sure this Cloud 9 seems like a great drug, but once a member of 4chan hacks into it and releases a bunch of your nudes onto the web, you’ll all change your tune.

  6. “a clear liquid” with “no aroma other than a faint fruity smell” that can be discreetly consumed in an e-cigarette

    Ah !…e-cigarette…I knew it. Vaping is the devil’s work.

    1. This is exactly why they are so dangerous. You see, you can put anything, ANYTHING into an e-cigarette and smoke it. Cloud 9, jenkum, alcohol squeezed from a tampon, ANYTHING!

  7. It seems like it shouldn’t be so hard to figure out at least what kind of drug it is. Maybe not, I’m not much of a chemist.

    It really annoys me how lazy reporters are in covering this stuff. It seems like what is in Cloud 9 is still sort of unknown, or at least uncertain. But we’ve known what is in so called “bath salts” for some time now, yet people keep saying “bath salts” (even Reason writers are guilty of this). Or “spice” for the synthetic cannabinoid smokable stuff. Seems like part of the job of reporting on this stuff ought to be to try to figure out what it actually is, rather than just repeating the silly names that unscrupulous people use to market it.

    1. That sounds just like what someone who’s hopped up on reefer and goofballs would say….

      *eyes Zeb suspiciously*

  8. You’d think that some, any, of the effects of some new, popular drug would be pleasant. You know, just one, like euphoria or something. But not Cloud 9! No, it has no pleasant effects at all, which is why it’s so dangerous! Everyone will want to do it!

    1. It’s right up there with Jenkem.

  9. Drug Baaaaad!

    Ban now, plz.

  10. One of the preparations I tried selling in the 1990s from Advanced Research 2000 was a Cloud 9. IIRC it was ephedra.

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