Tests find banned drugs on British legal high sites

By Terrapinzflyer · Aug 12, 2010 · ·
  1. Terrapinzflyer
    A number of British websites are breaking the law by selling so-called legal highs made from banned class B drugs, a Newsbeat investigation has found.

    Tests on five different products bought from online shops showed most contained chemicals already illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

    Police are warning anyone caught with the powders could face prosecution and end up with a criminal record.

    "The risks are and the consequences are serious," said Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne from the Association of Chief Police Officers.

    "If we analyse it and find it's unlawful then that could carry a five year sentence for possession.

    "If you are buying large quantities and selling it on to friends then that's possession with intent to supply which carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years."

    New legal highs continue to flood the market since mephedrone and naphyrone were banned earlier this year.

    Sold as plant food
    Most are manufactured in the Far East and imported to the UK where they are sold as research chemicals or plant food to get round the law governing the sale of medicines.

    But tests on a random sample of five products bought by Newsbeat from different British websites showed most contained a cocktail of banned material.

    Two were made from mephedrone itself mixed with prescription drugs while another contained lesser known class B drugs, MDPV and fluromethcathinone, mixed with lidocaine, an anaesthetic typically used to cut cocaine.

    Tests on a fourth were less conclusive but appeared to show it contained a different class B substance, still known by its chemical name 4-Methyl-N-ethylcathinone.

    "Clearly we need some law enforcement," said Dr John Ramsay, a toxologist at St George's Hospital, who carried out the tests.

    "We need the police to raid some of these shops and demonstrate what they are doing is illegal and wrong."

    Imported from China
    British websites buy the chemicals in bulk from China and might not be aware they are breaking the law, he added.

    "They probably trust their wholesalers to supply them with something legal but it is their responsibility to make sure what they are selling to the public is safe and they cannot possibly do that," he said.

    There is already evidence that customers buying these substances have been arrested and prosecuted.

    Twenty-one-year-old Jack, not his real name, was placed on electronic curfew after getting caught with less than ten grams of what he believed was a legal high.

    "I thought if you could get it off the internet then it couldn't be that bad," he said.

    "It didn't really affect me until I turned up to a party and suddenly got really paranoid. I just had no idea what was going on."

    Criminal record
    Jack reacted badly to the substance he was taking and spent two days on a life support machine in a coma.

    "I woke up and the police told me it was mephedrone and a load of class B drugs I'd never heard of," he said. "To come back as illegal was a real kick in the teeth and now I've got a criminal record. These sites should be shut down."

    The websites selling the four banned drugs tested by Newsbeat all said they were given guarantees by their suppliers and were shocked by the results.

    One immediately closed for business although there is evidence the person behind it is still selling legal highs under another name.

    Three other sites said they have temporarily removed the products from sale while they conduct their own tests.

    Police said they are now taking the issue "very seriously" and will take action if there is evidence they are selling banned substances.

    "Policing the internet is difficult because as soon as you shut one site down another pops up but that's just one of the dilemma of the modern age," said Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne.

    "The simple message is if you are suspicious about what you are being offered, then don't buy it because it could be illegal and get you a criminal record for life."

    By Jim Reed
    Newsbeat reporter

    Friday, 6 August 2010 07:35 UK


    there is also news video embedded on the linked story

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  1. malsat
    Someone should try getting in touch with these people and find out what products were purchased. Not me though. I'm far too lazy.
  2. godztear
    This shit is getting ridiculous over in Britain. Shouldn't they be worried about all the people knifing each other rather then what is happening on the internet? They already know Mephedrone was banned under false pretense...why do they still endure?
  3. Phenoxide
    I may try to contact those involved with this report, though based on their findings I suspect what they have sampled are NRG-1 and NRG-2. Samples of NRG-1 has been reported both by Drugs-Forum and Simon Brandt's group in Liverpool to contain MDPV and Flephedrone. Samples of NRG-1 analyzed by TICTAC communications and their collaborators in London have been found to contain MDPV along with other cathinones, particularly butylone. 4-methyl-N-ethylcathinone has also been reported as the active chemical in some batches of NRG-2 (others have been reported as inactive or containing mephedrone).

    Drugs-Forum Analysis of NRG-1: Controlled substances found

    Analysis of 17 RC products reveals a very concerning trend

    The BBC are at least a couple of months behind the times on this. Still, better late than never, eh?
  4. Seaquake
  5. Nick Nicely
    SWIM thinks this speculation will just fuel the legal high market. SWIM personally would love to find his NRG-2/3/4 contained a decent dose of flephedrone. Just as most SWIMers buying dimethocaine would be delighted to find it was in fact grade A cocaine.
  6. kailey_elise
    How can one adjust for dose and length of time one might be 'altered', if they have no fucking clue what they're ingesting?

    That's one of the major suckages with Legal Highs, but it's even worse now, with them changing the formula every other batch - say you bought 'LegalHighBuzz02' last week and worked out what a great dose for you was. You buy 'LegalHighBuzz02' again this week, take the same dose as last week, but all of a sudden it's waaaay too much, because they changed the formula.

    *sheesh* Can we at least have some consistency in the quasi-legal drug scene? ;)

  7. Synchronium
    I had Jim's email knocking around somewhere, so I've asked both what the products were called and where they were purchased.

    Probably won't hear back, but I gave him quite a bit of help for BBC Newsbeat's handful of mephedrone articles, so hopefully he'll repay the favour.
  8. Nick Nicely
    I agree, SWIM has decided to give up taking any branded legal highs due to the inconsistency of effects, swim has never had the good fortune to receive better drugs than those expected, just worse usually.
  9. Synchronium
    Unfortunately, Jim Reed can't share his data.

    Fair enough. :(
  10. gammabetalactone
    21 year old Jack (if he's actually real) should have checked the missuse of drugs act as he had a defence under law against those charges.
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