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  1. Alfa
    GOODBYE ECSTASY, HELLO 5-MEO-DMT: NEW DESIGNER DRUGS ARE JUST A CLICK AWAY

    Psychedelics Legal In US But Banned In UK Are Openly Available On The Internet

    British recreational drug users are turning to a new generation of designer
    class A drugs from the United States as demand for ecstasy plummets, the
    Guardian has established.

    The majority of these new drugs are powerful synthetic psychedelics from
    the same chemical families as LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline. They are
    too new to have enticing street names; instead their lengthy chemical names
    are shortened to abbreviations such as 2C-I, 4-HO-DiPT, and 5-Meo-DMT.
    Unlike ecstasy, methamphetamine or other synthetic recreational drugs, the
    new compounds are not made in illicit factories or backroom kitchen
    laboratories. Instead, "research chemicals", as they are euphemistically
    known, are synthesised by commercial labs, often based in the US, which
    openly sell their products on the internet.

    The rapid growth in the transatlantic online trade in such chemicals has
    been fuelled by international differences over legality. While Britain has
    outlawed all of these drugs - under an amendment to the Misuse Of Drugs Act
    in February 2002 - they remain legal in most other countries, including the
    majority of EU member states. Even in the US, despite some of the most
    draconian anti-drug laws in the world, the bulk of research chemicals are
    legal to manufacture, sell, possess and consume.

    With ecstasy dropping in price and popularity, users and dealers in this
    country are looking further afield to obtain new highs. A recent Home
    Office survey found that ecstasy use had dropped 21% in the last year. The
    street price had also dropped to an all time low of #2-#3 a pill.

    But while most research chemicals are too psychedelically powerful to make
    it as club drugs, one, 2C-I, is rapidly gaining popularity in this country
    as a dance drug, thanks to some similarities in effect to MDMA, the main
    ingredient of ecstasy. More than 125 pills of the drug were seized by
    police last year, including 65 at the Glastonbury festival, and some London
    dealers are offering it for #10 a tablet.

    British police acknowledge that the internet drugs trade is a growing
    problem. "It is one of our key priorities," a spokeswoman for the National
    Hi-Tech Crime Unit, responsible for policing internet crime, told the
    Guardian. "Supply of class As is one of the areas we are examining."

    Most research chemicals come as crystalline white powder. They can be
    swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected. Some users prefer to administer
    them via enema.

    Psychedelic stimulants such as 2C-I and 2-CT-2 induce visual
    hallucinations, energy surges, and euphoria. The most powerful is
    5-Meo-DMT, doses of which are smaller than a grain of salt. When smoked,
    its effects are nearly instantaneous, propelling the user into an alternate
    reality, described as like "being shot out of the nozzle of an atomic
    cannon". The experience lasts 10 minutes.

    Competitive

    Online drug trading is becoming an increasingly competitive and
    sophisticated industry. Last month, the Guardian revealed that at least
    five British websites were selling cannabis online.

    The leading research chemical sites compete openly to offer the purest
    product, the best customer service, the fastest deliveries and the lowest
    prices. Sophisticated e-commerce technology, electronic payment systems and
    next day courier services guarantee swift, effortless "one-click"
    transactions. Most sites offer between five and 15 different drugs, with
    prices ranging from $95 to $350 (about #50-#185) a gram excluding delivery.
    The maximum order is 5g. Customers must be over 21.

    Credit cards and international money orders are accepted. Drugs like 2C-I
    can be shipped, via UPS or Fedex, worldwide. Next day delivery is often
    guaranteed. Most will ship to the UK and other EU states with one caveat:
    "All purchasers are responsible for compliance with any applicable city,
    county, state, federal or national regulations related to the purchase,
    possession and use of any and/or all product," reads the disclaimer on one
    site.

    "It's very easy to get them if you know where to go and you're prepared to
    take the risk," said Charlie, 34, a photographer and graphic designer from
    south London. He calls himself a regular customer of a research chemicals
    company based in New York.

    Every three months he buys a selection using his credit card. It usually
    takes three days to arrive via UPS Express. Most recently he made a
    repeat-order for 1g of 2,5-dimethyoxy-4-ethylthiophenethylamine (or 2-CT-2
    for short), a class A psychedelic similar in effect to mescaline. It costs
    $175 excluding delivery.

    "It's pure. You know exactly what you're getting," he said.

    Research chemicals are advertised online as 99% lab pure, but experts warn
    that that does not mean they are safe. Compared with similar drugs like LSD
    and magic mushrooms, which have undergone decades of informal human
    experimentation with relatively few direct fatalities, research chemicals
    are unknowns. Few human or animal toxicity studies have been carried out.

    Even their proponents are at pains to point out the unpredictability and
    danger involved in reckless experimentation. "It is not reasonable to
    assume that these chemicals are in any way 'safe' to use recreationally,"
    states the FAQ at erowid.org, the internet's biggest underground drug
    resource. "When you take a research chemical, you are stepping out into the
    unknown, and you could be the unfortunate person to discover a new drug's
    lethal dose."

    Safety is a big issue among avid users of research chemicals. Detailed
    "trip reports" and harm reduction tips are shared through an extensive
    network of websites and bulletin boards. First time users are expected to
    read up on their drug of choice and start with small amounts.

    Nevertheless, with active doses running to hundredths or even thousandths
    of a gram, overdoses triggering unexpected reactions can be a very real
    threat, even with electronic scales sensitive to these weights.

    In October 2000, Jake Duroy, 20, from Oklahoma, snorted 35mg of a research
    psychedelic called 2-CT-7 he had ordered from the web. He was an
    experienced user but this was a massive amount of the drug to take nasally,
    which can greatly amplify the effect. He quickly became agitated and
    violent and two hours later died of a heart attack.

    In April the following year, a 17-year-old died after snorting a similar
    amount of the same drug. A year later in July 2002, 2-CT-7 was
    emergency-scheduled by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. In their statement,
    they cited information from trip reports on the internet. After these
    tragedies, 2-CT-7 was removed from the online marketplace and has not
    reappeared.

    Police warning

    The EU recently recommended that member states ban 2C-I as a matter of
    urgency, although they turned up no evidence of large scale manufacture.
    The police, however, were quick to sound the alarm. "The chemicals to make
    this are available and it can be made pretty much anywhere," a source said.

    Most research chemicals were invented by one man, Californian biochemist Dr
    Alexander Shulgin, 78. As an expert witness and adviser to the US Drug
    Enforcement Agency, he held a licence permitting him to study psychoactive
    drugs. Over decades, he created hundreds of new mind-altering compounds and
    then tested them on himself and a small coterie of fellow "psychonauts".
    The recipes for more than 170 of his materials were published in two
    biochemical cookbooks in the 1990s and now form the backbone of the
    research chemicals industry.

    Despite the risks, Charlie is prepared to order again, although he admits
    he gets nervous every time. "I track them via the delivery company's
    website and can watch when they pass through customs safely," he said.
    "Then I know I can relax."

    Strange and outrageous chemicals

    DMT Dimethyltryptamine

    Found in minute quantities in certain Amazonian plants and in the human
    brain. Smoked, the effects are nearly instantaneous and very strange. "The
    closest you'll get to experiencing death bar actually dying" as one user
    put it.

    Dose 2-60mg

    Duration Less than 10 minutes

    Legal status Class A

    Price #100 a gram on the street

    5-Meo-DMT Methoxydimethyltryptamine

    A more powerful sister compound of DMT, occurring naturally in the venom of
    the Bufo alvarius toad but generally smoked in synthesised form. Not
    uncommon for those who take large amounts to suffer psychological and
    emotional difficulties for weeks afterwards.

    Dose 1-20mg (smaller than a grain of salt)

    Duration 5-20 minutes

    Legal status Class A but available to buy on the internet

    Price $175 (about #90) a gram

    2C-I (2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine)

    Most likely candidate for the coveted title "the next ecstasy".

    Powerful psychedelic stimulant described as a cross between MDMA and LSD
    but with much gentler side-effects. Already appearing in pill form on the
    UK dance scene.

    Dose 10-25mg

    Duration 5-8 hours

    Legal status Class A but available to buy on the internet

    Price $299 a gram web price; #10 a pill on the street

    2-CT-2 (2,5-dimethyoxy-4-ethylthiophenethylamine)

    Respected psychedelic, from the same phenethylamine family as MDMA and
    mescaline.

    Noted for its warmth and "outrageous visuals".

    Dose 10-25mg

    Duration 5-8 hours

    Legal status Class A but available to buy on the internet

    Price $299 a gram web price; #10 a pill on the street

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