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Chemical imbalance: New drugs defy ban

While legislation banning all mind-altering drugs is just days away from becoming law, manufacturers of head shop products are still busily churning out new drugs.

With rumblings in Garda circles that the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010 may not be straightforward to implement, it is not clear when, and to what extent, the law will be enforced.

Ministers have already predicted wealthy head shops owners will challenge the law in the courts, possibly hampering implementation even more.

Garda sources say many of the head shops that have remained open after the ban – 44 out of an original 102 shops – are adopting a "wait and see" approach.

The trade could, they suggest, shift online, with some sites, including ones based in Dublin, offering a delivery service.

In the meantime, new chemicals continue to reach the cabinets of head shops here, replacing the popular products banned on May 11.

Researchers at the Department of Pharmacology at Trinity College Dublin have been working literally around the clock over the last three months in the painstaking task of identifying what exactly is being sold in head shops.

"We have basically condensed a year’s research work into a couple of months," said Dr Pierce Kavanagh, research leader.

As well as identifying the drugs available pre-ban, they have, since the ban, identified some 13 new chemicals, which were not on sale before May 11.

"They are new in that they are new to us, as we are constantly extending our analytical portfolio and as time progresses the range of compounds that we look for is increasing," said Dr Pierce.

The 13 chemicals were found in 38 packets, with often the same substances sold in different packets.

The drugs often contain a number of different chemicals.

These 13 chemicals include:

nNaphyrone – a stimulant replacing mephedrone, found in packets Mind Melt, Pure NRG and Enchanted.

nFluorotropacocaine – a cocaine substitute, found in Star Dust and Whack.

nDimethocaine – a local anaesthetic/stimulant, found in Mind Melt, Amplified, Mint Mania.

nSynephrine – a stimulant like ephedrine, found in Energy, Go-E, Empathy, Bio Happiness, Diablo, Storm, Exotic and Molotov.

Other new chemicals are levodpa, glaucine, ethcathinone, iso-ethcathinone, 5-hydroxtrytophan, desoxypipradrol, am-694, dimethylcathinone and mitragynine.

They also identified four chemicals, on sale before the ban and still being sold.

They were not listed in the ban. They include dimethylamylamine (DMAA) and 2-Phenylethylamine, two chemicals, which between them, were found in more than half of the 38 packets.

Dr Kavanagh said they were also monitoring websites offering what they call "research chemicals" for sale.

"We have observed that MDAT, MDAI, 5-IAI and especially 6-APB (Benzo Fury) are becoming quite popular."

However, the actual availability of Benzo Fury from such websites is unclear and some state the "official launch date" is the beginning of August.

He said their analysis had thrown up a large number of mysterious or "unknown" substances.

"A number of products we’re seeing now we haven’t see before – nor have other any laboratories – so, we’re left with what we call unknowns," he said.

"These unknowns could be deliberately incorporated active materials – manufactured in laboratories – or, in some cases, significant impurities introduced during the manufacture of these products.

"Whatever we may know about the active ingredients – the naphyrones, ethcathinones and so on, albeit in most cases anecdotally – we simply know nothing about the impurities and this is of great concern."

He said a product that was 99% pure naphyrone and 1% impurity could pose major risks: "That 1% impurity could be 1,000 times more potent than the parent molecule. It could be very, very, toxic."

The research details have been posted on, a website run by Crosscare, attached to the Dublin Catholic Diocese, and funded by the HSE.

Source: Cormac O'Keefe, The Irish Examiner, 26/07/2010

Posted by Andy on 07/26 at 08:11 AM in Legal and illegal highs
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(2) Comments


#1. Posted by Roman Masata on July 26, 2010

Behind the Mirror
I am co-owner of a head shop. Without any warning, the state issued a law, and goods we had bought legally became illegal overnight and were confiscated. Now the state claims and will exact taxes. Absurd? The law itself seems more absurd to me. I entered this business with a very good feeling that it was really helping, and the only way to keep drugs under control. Banning anything only leads to an even greater desire to try it out. And then I contemplated the very concept: a drug. On the scale of dangerousness, alcohol is in fourth place, nicotine in ninth, and natural cannabis without artificially reduced THC content (which is sold in head shops) in eleventh place. I havent made that up; this is from a scientific study. Ireland is full of advertising encouraging me to drink alcohol, and while this is not the case for cigarettes, they can still be easily purchased. But cannabis, even with reduced THC content, is now criminalized. Why? Substances that were sold in head shops had a weaker effect than illegal drugs, and were far from having such a devastating impact on people as alcohol has. Customers were peaceful and pleasant and didnt have any trouble going to work after they slept it off. It hasnt really been proven that they would harm themselves, as even consumers of sweets or fatty meals do. In addition, I noticed an interesting thing: hardly any of my customers drank much alcohol. I know of many cases in which consumers of alcohol not only harmed themselves, but were also extremely dangerous to their surroundings. After all, they tried to ban alcohol in the USA some 80 years ago. The result? People kept drinking, but the crime rate increased. Im not saying that drugs should start being sold in supermarkets, but I do insist that it is much more efficient to provide people with controlled, weaker substances for their relaxation than to force them to secretly buy real drugs that are much worse. Here are two examples of the hypocrisy: One guy kept coming to our shop quite often, threatening us with demolition, but was always so drunk that he could hardly walk. Another example: In front of our shop, nine people gathered to protest and presumed to speak for everyone. Their leader worked in a bar, selling alcohol, and two of them lit a cigarette during the protest. Hypocrisy? Ignorance? Desire to be seen? My former customers have told me that they are now buying the goods on the street again (i.e. secretly). Did the government really think that with this law, people would stop taking drugs? I dont think so. And so, while enormous income flows into the state budget from the sale of cigarettes and alcohol, street sellers, now without any competition from head shops, leisurely add heroin to cocaine and turn occasional customers into regular, addicted ones. While I cannot prove it, I have heard that head shops drove 25 % of drug dealers out of business, and I believe it. I asked my customers about their age and required an ID if there was any doubt they were over 18, but I cant imagine that street sellers would do the same. Its even less believable that they would pay taxes from their sales. They will only ask: Do you have money? And perhaps this is why the street dealers are the only winners here. They wont pay taxes, but they are organized, and so they can just put their money together and pay less, and somewhere else, and certainly not to all of Ireland.

Roman Masata Director of Eiropies Ltd

#2. Posted by MDAI on April 20, 2011

Great post Roman. The whole system is steeped in Hypocrisy. They treat suppliers as criminals yet you can openly sell alcohol or cigarettes on every street corner. It has been proven that both are more harmful than ecstacy. If you went to a nightclub where people took drugs you would find them a much more pleasant experience than one full of people getting drunk. Fair enough if tests are done which prove that these new drugs are harmful but it’s never the case. In the UK Mephedrone was banned due to a newspaper story which ‘decided’ that 2 boys who died on a night out had taken the drug. This led to a media outcry and the chemical was banned. 2 months later it is revealed thatthey hadn’t touched Mephedrone. It’s unbelievable how incompetent our justice system is. When a top drugs Tzar came out and questioned the classification of such drugs as ecstacy and cigarettes he was sacked!!





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