Navigating the new alphabet of intoxication.
You don’t have to be a molecular chemist to know which of today’s recreational drugs are safe. Wait, I take that back. You DO have to be a molecular chemist to navigate today’s synthetic drug market with anything like a modest degree of safety.
It’s hard not to get nostalgic: Back in the day, you had your pot, you had your acid, your coke, your speed, and your heroin. And that, with the exception of a few freak outriders like PCP, was about that. Baby boomers of today, already losing touch with leading-edge music—Macklemore? Tame Impala?—can now consider themselves officially out of touch when it comes to illegal drugs.
That is, unless they are familiar with psychoactive chemicals beyond mere methamphetamine “bath salt” knockoffs like mephedrone, and cannabis “Spice” look-alikes such as JWH-018. We’re talking about drugs like Bromo-DragonFly, Benzo Fury, and 2C-B. As Vanessa Grigoriadis writes in New York Magazine: “These drug users imagine themselves as amateur chemists, proto-Walter Whites, sampling and resynthesizing drugs to achieve exactly the state of consciousness they find most pleasurable. And there are no end of drugs to play with.”
A big piece of the synthetic drugs movement can be traced to the work of the legendary Alexander Shulgin, a Harvard grad who worked for Dow chemical, and who invented more than 100 entirely novel hallucinogenic compounds over the years. Other than the hallucinogens investigated by Shulgin and his coterie of personal friends, who were willing to take new hallucinogens and report back, none of the drugs on this list were meant for, or tested on, human beings.
Many of them are not, technically, new. Nonetheless, writes Grigoriadis, "almost every drug, from pot to GHB to morphine, has been messed with, as chemists find that removing a methoxy group or adding a benzene ring makes a new drug with different properties: body-grooving with a side helping of visuals, euphoric or speedy, long or short, or administering just the right dose of primal fear. Formerly known as “designer drugs,” they have morphed into “synthetic highs.” The tricky precursor chemical problem has become much easier to solve in the present moment, when any budding entrepreneur can send the official chemical designation of a drug, called its CAS number, to any of dozens of manufacturers in China, who will provide them with whatever weird “research” drug they need.
Herewith, a sampling of a few popular drugs of the day:
- 2C Series
- NBOMe Series
- 6-APB (Benzo Fury)
Photo Credit: http://legalmann.wordpress.com/