Synthetic Drugs

How the Government Promotes Dangerous LSD Substitutes



A recent CNN story about the potentially deadly dangers of new synthetic drugs inadvertently calls attention to the government's role in promoting these novel compounds. In my latest Forbes column, I argue that imposing one ban after another drives constant innovation by underground chemists, resulting in drugs with unpredictable hazards. Here is how the piece starts:

This week CNN ran a report called "Deadly High: How Synthetic Drugs Are Killing Kids." The story highlights the threat posed by "deadly new drugs on America's streets designed to evade the law." In case you are not sure how you should react to this menace, correspondent Drew Griffin tells you. "That, to me, is scary," he remarks during a conversation with a federal prosecutor about an entreprenur who created an online business that supplied a synthetic psychedelic implicated in the 2012 deaths of two teenagers in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Griffin is right that something scary is going on here. But it is not the inherent hazards of psychoactive substances so much as the way the government senselessly magnifies those hazards.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. The only solution is just to make everything illegal unless you stand in line to get it from the government approved store. If anyone needs anything, they go to the government store, get fingerprinted, get their DNA recorded, and make their purchases.

    Anyone caught buying stuff on the streets? Send in the justice enforcement squad to choke hold them until they stop saying ‘I can’t breathe’. For the children.

  2. Why would the government care? The drug warriors will just play this up as more “Drugs KILL!” and use it as an excuse to demand more funding. They start with the basic premise that no one should use recreational drugs – ever. So they can then happily shift the focus from bad laws encouraging people to create new quasi-legal chemicals to their favored narrative of bad, bad people selling bad, bad drugs that are killing the children.

    1. There was an article recently about the latest formulation of poppers in Europe being suspected in irreversible eye damage after they banned a particular formulation and European producers shifted over to something similar but different. The original poppers (amyl nitrites) were considered so safe that they were taken off the prescription list and made OTC in 1960, but were banned in 1969 because of recreational use.

      It’s the equivalent of them banning Advil because people enjoyed taking it in moderation.

      1. Except Advil is much more dangerous.

  3. LSD is as safe as mothers milk

    1. Is that unpasteurized mother’s milk, mister?

  4. NBOME is a case of the dose makes the poison. It’s active at microgram quantities, like LSD, but the difference is that if you take too much LSD it probably won’t have any lasting effects (unless you’re an elephant, maybe), whereas if you take too much NBOME it might kill you. I’d bet the people who died (or the people who gave/sold it to them) didn’t know how truly tiny a dose is required.

    So, really, it’s another case of prohibition being bad for people, because if LSD or NBOME were not against the law, you could buy a dose and know that you were taking a safe dose (even when NBOME wasn’t prohibited, if you ordered it I’d bet you’d get a little plastic envelope of powder marked “Not for Human Consumption” or some such, not a hit of blotter or whatever).

    1. If what I was told by a friend of mine back in the 70s who was a chemist and pharmacist, I doubt that there’s been any real unadulterated LSD on the market since the 60s.

      Basically, he told me that all street LSD was other chemical mixtures which contained no LSD.

      I don’t know if that is true or not, but I believe the guy as he was quite intelligent and a serious person.

      1. Mid-90s

        It is very difficult to make

        1. Is it a case of the precursor chemicals are essentially controlled substances themselves? And since LSD has so few things that you can use to make it, unlike meth it just doesn’t get made?

        2. What my friend was telling me is that is was both costly and difficult to make, and that there were a lot cheaper and easier methods of making up some stuff that had similar hallucinogenic effects and that most people on the streets wouldn’t know the difference, but that he, having had the real stuff from actual pharmacy labs, knew the difference and that the street stuff was dangerous and contained really nasty stuff like strychnine. Seriously.

          1. I think that strychnine in acid is just one of those urban myths that is hard to get rid of. I’m pretty sure it was always false. Strychnine is not only very toxic, but one of the most bitter substances there is.

      2. Up until the 90s some time, almost all of the LSD (or whatever it was at that point) came from one source. Since then, I’m sure “Acid” that you are likely to encounter has been all sorts of different stuff.

    2. Well, LSD won’t kill you or injure you, but based on a few people I know who inadvertently took very large doses, there are some lasting psychological effects, anyway.

  5. According to CNN, the boyfriend had swiped the white powder he mixed into the chocolate from a drug dealer and did not know what it was.


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