The Bathtub Gin of Cannabis (and Other Substances), Now with Bath Salts
The Erowids remain the most important authors around on drug policy. Consider their musings on the state of recreational drugs today:
Take “Ivory Wave” (recently renamed “Vanilla Sky”), with its shiny, corporate, mass-produced packaging. It is sold by the same vendors who sell other recreational psychoactives, although the manufacturer states it is “concentrated bath salts”. Groups of anonymous aspiring drug geeks discuss in detail in the hidden corners or very public squares of the Internet what effects they got when they snorted it and what they think its unidentified active chemicals could be.
Do you suppose it is (-)-2-?-carbo-methoxy-3-?-(4-fluorophenyl)tropane (?-CFT, WIN-35,428)? Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps it’s fancy packaging for MDPV. Or maybe it’s 4-methylmethcathinone or bk-PMMA, or ephedrine. Or maybe it’s really just bath salts that nobody should be putting in their nose. Actually, it’s unclear whether it’s worse to snort MDPV or bath salts. We might know in a decade or two.
But Spice and Ivory Wave are not the only new products out there: what is in “NRG-1” or “Doves”? A brave explorer could be the first on their block, or in their city, or maybe in their country to try “London Underground Doves” which, based on one anonymous laboratory analysis, purportedly contains both bk-MBDB and mCPP.
People are interested in part because these products are theoretically legal and easily acquired online, but also because they are novel materials and experiences.
As even the uninitiated can learn with a bit of googling, (-)-2-?-carbo-methoxy-3-?-(4-fluorophenyl)tropane (?-CFT, WIN-35,428) is structurally related to cocaine. It’s also — of course — a Schedule II drug. And it appears that it’s often made with radioactive tagging. (!)
In the market now, it is difficult to tell good snake oil from bad snake oil, effective from ineffective, or dangerous from well-known. There are dozens of research chemicals currently available online or in head shops. They are sold as “legal highs”, and often, whether implicitly or explicitly, positioned as replacements for a particular illegal drug like psilocybin mushrooms or cocaine. Some contain chemicals brand new to the recreational markets, while others are just caffeine.
Along with being sold as party pills and illegal drug stand-ins, some are sold as potpourri, incense, bath salts, plant food or plant growth inhibitors, dewormers, and room deodorizers. There is a swirling blizzard of new products…
One particularly telling example is Diablo XXX, which doesn’t identify ingredients but notes that it’s “strong as hell” and warns not to “double drop”. However, when the producer redesigned the packaging, they added that it is “Plant Feeder” and changed “Party Pills” to “Not for Human Consumption”.
Drugs didn’t do this. The war on drugs did. A legal, regulated, above-board recreational drug market would do a lot to end it.
As I said before, these aren’t the sort of choices that you or I would likely make. They are the sort of choices that other people are making, in the legal environment that exists today. Change that environment, and these choices will change too.