(Check out our previous introductory post on research chems for more background info.)
Here's a list of some of the trends we've seen to date in Toronto, but we're going to keep you posted on what we know is happening with Research chems locally. If you have any questions about RCs that you'd like to know more about, or if you have noticed any emerging RC trends, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by approaching any of our volunteers.
aka "super coke"
Despite the nickname, this substance is chemically unrelated to cocaine and produces significantly different effects: it is a (much) longer-term stimulant that is better compared to speed. While the branding helped initial sales of this substance, many users who experimented with it based on liking cocaine found themselves experiencing negative effects (generally due to the length and strong emotional levels of the high). MDPV is a common ingredient in “bath salts” formulations sold online and via head shops. As with any stimulant, prolonged and repeated use can result in users staying up for days in a row, potentially impairing cognitive judgement and producing delusional and paranoid mental states, i.e. psychosis.
aka "max volume" (local), "meow meow" (UK)
Mephedrone was developed in the UK and distributed quite cheaply, quickly gaining popularity amongst youth at a time when more common drugs like E became increasingly scarce. Use has declined as more and more negative side-effects are reported, including decreased sexual ability in males, apparently high abuse potential and (in the case of some heavier chronic users) health problems including vasoconstriction leading to vein collapse. Media scare reports in the UK and underground anti-Mephedrone campaigns emerged as use spread, it became increasingly uncool to be known as a user of the drug, and laws were tightened. Chemical manufacturing companies marketing RCs in the UK have since made a point of pricing their new substances (like MXE) much higher so as to avoid the same explosion of underage use and the negative media attention that was associated with it.
2C* (2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-E and related molecules, as well as 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7, etc)
While these substances have existed for decades, being first synthesized and described by Alexander Shulgin in PiHKAL in the 1970/80s, they have had much more limited distribution and use until quite recently. Now these phenethylamine psychedelics have began appearing in place of MDMA/E and in some cases LSD (not on blotter, which isn't large enough to contain an active amount of these substances, but in small microdot pills). This is despite the fact that the effects differ quite a bit from MDMA/MDA - these psychedelics tend to be longer-lasting, more hallucinogenic, less euphoric, less empathogenic, more physically uncomfortable, more anxiety-producing and more likely to produce introverted states in social situations.
Important to note is that the 2C*s are much more potent than MDMA, especially when snorted, and anyone who is used to snorting MDMA or E pills should be very cautious with new batches because of the chance of an unpleasantly strong psychedelic trip if they have actually been given 2C*s.
As well, the related but separate 2C-T-* group has a particular warning attached to it, as 2C-T-7 has been linked to accidental lethal overdoses in experimental users (even ones who knew exactly what they were consuming), especially in those users who have been snorting rather than eating the drugs. More information can be found at http://www.erowid.org/ask/ask.php?ID=2175 (this link is over a decade old, so doesn't discuss many of the newer RCs).
MXE is a ketamine derivative that was developed in the UK in 2010 with the specific intent of being distributed on the "grey market" in place of K, which was facing stiffer and stiffer legal controls in many countries. Although many users experimenting with MXE have sought it out based on the hope that it is similar to K, most users report the effects as being more comparable to opiates.
It has been advertised as being "bladder friendly" and was designed in an attempt to avoid the bladder damage issues that have been reported by heavy, chronic ketamine users. Being sold in the wake of the UK's mephedrone wave, distribution was originally done at a higher price than necessary in order to limit the speed at which the substance spread. Despite the initial promise of "a safer ketamine," overdose deaths have since been reported and lawmakers are quickly moving to enact bans on the substance. Russia and Switzerland have banned MXE since late 2011, and the UK rushed through a temporary ban while they wait to get around to discussing a permanent ban. In Canada, MXE may be considered illegal based on PCP analogue laws - updates on this as we learn them.
Two related but different amphetamine-class drugs, PMA and PMMA have increasingly appeared in place of E/MDMA and (in the case of PMA) LSD.
PMA acts as a psychedelic without being particularly stimulating or euphoric. PMMA, instead, acts primarily as a stimulant. Both have been linked to numerous overdose deaths, including PMMA in early 2012 in Western Canadian provinces where it was sold as pressed "ecstasy" pills.
The dangers related to PMA/PMMA are for two different primary reasons. In the case of PMA, the substance acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), a substance which increases the potency and toxicity of many other drugs and even certain foods. When PMA and MDMA are taken together (just like when any MAOI and MDMA are taken together), the risk of serotonin syndrome can be increased.
PMMA, on the other hand, acts as a physical stimulant which can raise a user's blood pressure and heart rate. These effects can occur at doses lower than the other psychoactive effects, and so users who think they are taking normal ecstasy will assume that their pill is just "weak"/"bunk" and increase their dose. The overdose threshold for PMMA is lower than for MDMA, and users can reach the point of a dangerous stimulant overdose before they realize that they have taken anything unusual. As this is a particular health concern in Canada right now, be extra cautious about E and MDMA - test your pills and never re-dose because something seems too weak (who wants to double up on something that's crap anyway, right??). If you feel really sick after dosing & none of the normal tricks work (take a break, drink some water or something with electrolites, use the washroom, lie down, etc.) think about heading to the ER.
AMT is a psychedelic stimulant of the tryptamine family that is not typically found in place of other drugs. However, as it is often described as having a particularly unique set of effects, it has achieved a fair level of popularity on its own. While not extremely common, it is definitely more common than many other experimental psychedelics. First developed in the 1960s, it experienced a boost in popularity beginning in the '90s as commercial chemical supply distribution became more widespread. AMT currently remains legal in most countries, including Canada.
A euphoric stimulant which has been marketed under "legal high"/"ecstasy alternative" brands, BZP is now banned in a handful of countries but remains legal in Canada. Although no deaths have been reported from BZP alone, deaths have been reported in people consuming BZP and MDMA together, however BZP could not be identified as a direct cause in those cases. Nonetheless, the list of negative side-effects is substantial:
[Patients with mild to moderate toxicity experienced symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, dystonia, and urinary retention. Significantly, fourteen toxic seizures were recorded with two patients suffering life-threatening toxicity with status epilepticus and severe respiratory and metabolic acidosis. It was concluded that BZP appears to induce toxic seizures in neurologically normal subjects. The results of this study and others like it showed that BZP can cause unpredictable and serious toxicity in some individuals, but the data and dosage collection were reliant on self reporting by drug users, which may result in under-reporting, and there were complicating factors like the frequent presence of alcohol and other drugs.]
The above information came from a study in Christchurch, New Zealand: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzylpiperazine
How are we supposed to go forward from here with the possibility that any street drug could contain something we haven't even heard of yet?
The same old approach still holds true in this new situation:
Know yourself, know your substance and know your source!
Knowing yourself: Recognize when the effects of something you've taken don't match what they should. Try to familiarize yourself with information aobut RCs that you could possibly encounter and know what effects to be looking out for.
Knowing your substance: TEST!!! If at all possible, test every batch with a testing kit. While testing kits used to only identify a small handful of major substances, there are now kits which can detect many dozens of different things, ranging from illegal drugs to unusual RCs to major pharmaceuticals.
Contact TRIP! for more information on testing, and also take a look at the DanceSafe , EZ Test and Bunk Police websites. If you absolutely can't get something tested, you should still learn to be as skilled as possible at assessing your drugs by appearance, taste and other means (the common ketamine 'burn test' is a good example of another testing method).
Knowing your source: Part of this also means knowing that your source may be honest with you but still not realize that they were sold something weird. While most dealers won't be willing to tell you in-depth information about their own sources, you should try to get a sense of whether they have extremely reliable and consistent links or whether they switch suppliers and are kind of hit-or-miss every time they pick up.
Likewise, if you're getting RCs from a chemical supply company, realize that not all companies are the same - many of the less legitimate ones will sell impure products, poorly-made products, or even sell totally mislabelled products when they've run out. Get as many reviews as you can, make sure that online reviews aren't just spam put out by the company, and try to get a sense of whether the company really distributes large amounts for research purposes or is just some random person in a basement somewhere.
(Check out our previous introductory post on research chems for more background info.)