Designer drugs have been subject of much media attention of late, as the Internet has made obtaining them easier than in the past. In many cases, it’s simpler to order designer drugs online than to try to obtain street drugs. Designer drugs can be just as dangerous if not more so than drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.
Designer drugs are drugs created in a lab to mimic popular drugs. Because they are chemically different, though similar, from drugs like heroin, crack, and others, up until 2012 many could be sold legally in the United States. This was because designer drugs are constantly being invented. Once a drug became popular, the drug enforcement agency usually began the process of adding it to the list of illegal substances. In 2012, President Obama signed into law an act that made synthetic drugs illegal.
Designer drugs have been around since the prohibition, when diethyl ether became a popular alternative to alcohol. In the 60s and 70s, designer drugs that mimicked LSD were sold. In the 80s, synthetic drugs were developed based on existing prescription narcotics. In the last thirty years, designer drugs have become much more popular because of their easy accessibility through the Internet. Synthetic versions of mescaline and anabolic steroids have become available.
Mephedrone may be the best known designer drug. It is commonly sold as bath salts. While the label says they are not meant to be consumed, this is only to avoid laws against selling substances that are very similar to illegal drugs. Although almost every category of drugs has multiple synthetic versions that are similar to it, it’s important to note that just because these preparations are similar does not mean that the effects of taking drugs are known. Even a very tiny change in the chemical structure drug can result in serious side effects, from short-term behavioral side effects of long-term mental health side effects.
K2 is a hallucinogenic that is sometimes called synthetic pot. Its effects are very different from those of marijuana.
Vanilla sky is a type of bath salt that is sometimes sold under the names Ivory Wave, Ocean Burst, and Purple Rain. This type of drug can cause extreme hallucinations. There been many reports of people with no history of violent behavior suddenly becoming extremely violent. Because these drugs are unregulated, there’s no guarantee that there aren’t dangerous compounds mixed in with the drug.
ecstasy is a synthetic drug that has been around for years. Users may feel euphoric and calm while taking the drug. Overdoses of ecstasy can cause convulsions, heart palpitations, kidney failure, coma, and death. The active ingredient in ecstasy is a compound called MDMA. Because it is one of the more well-known synthetic drugs, it has been explicitly banned in many countries, including the United States.
2C-I users experience energy, hallucinations, and feelings of empathy. This drug can also make users feel nauseous.
Various companies in the United States and overseas make synthetic drugs. The website JLF Poisonous Non Consumables sold many types of designer drugs. The business, which was based United States, was shut down by the DEA in 2004. This company tried to circumvent the law by claiming that the chemicals were for research purposes only and were not meant to be consumed.
The company RAC Research was shut down in 2004 for providing synthetic drugs that were analogous to banned substances. The company has maintained that since these substances were not specifically banned, it was legal to sell them.
American Chemical Supply, Duncan Labs, and LTK Research were also shut down by the DEA.
The largest raid on synthetic drugs occurred in 2004, when the DEA conducted operation Web Tryp. Ten people were arrested for selling drugs that were analogous to existing banned substances. These people ran companies that purported to sell drugs for research purposes only, though in fact they were meant to be consumed for a high. More recent legislation has given the DEA more tools to prosecute sellers of synthetic drugs. Now any synthetic drug similar to an existing banned substance is illegal.
Most designer drugs that were sold in stores were clearly marked that they were not meant to be consumed. Because of this, designer drugs are still a problem, even though they are now clearly banned. The DEA usually does not become aware of a new designer drug until it has started to make people sick or cause problems. It is difficult to monitor every new substance that comes on the market, especially when some stores import from suppliers who are out of the country and may not obey United States laws.