Legal highs and the problems with synthetic drug manufacturing

Oh the irony. A few centuries back, China was struggling to prevent opium from consuming its citizens and the British East India Company answered every attempt at restriction with force. The result was two consecutive wars that would later be dubbed the Opium Wars. Now, the People’s Republic strikes back as the eastern giant continuously floods the international markets with new synthetic drugs.


More than any region in the world, the West is seen as the most lucrative for Chinese manufacturers, with the US and the UK one of their main overseas targets. Many of their creations mimic the effects of common drugs like marijuana and cocaine, but there’s a trick – the compounds of these stimulants are actually legal. Because of this, thousands of pounds go through the borders without trouble, where they can be redistributed across each country.

Now, the problem doesn’t lie in the fact that governments don’t make an effort to tackle this issue, it’s just that their efforts are practically useless. Even though many known synthetic drugs, like ‘Spice’ and ‘Bath Salts’, have been outlawed, it only takes a tweak of the chemical makeup, and the drug is back on the general market. As one DEA special agent put it, it’s like playing “whack-a-mole” – just when you think you’ve got them, they modify it to do the same job and for it still be legal.

The drugs in question are certainly spreading among our peers; they’re cheap, lawful and above all – almost like the real thing. But there’s a price to pay for low prices – there are increased dangers with these synthetic drugs. Of course, some mainstream stimulants have built their reputation through a long history of widespread abuse. Take for example one of the most infamous man-made drugs, an inspiration to Tyga and Whiz Kalifa and worldwide favourite – ecstasy.

Depending on where you hail from, you might know it by its colloquial name ‘Molly’ or ‘Mandy’. In the United States, CBS reports an increase of a whopping 128% in ER admissions since 2005, with over 10,000 cases in 2011, all because of this one century-old drug. However, copycats of ecstasy, like 2C-I, have quickly gained infamy through their bonus ability to pack a strong psychedelic punch. Imitators of LSD like the N-bomb raise the bar even higher because their hallucinogenic effects are far stronger, but thet can often be life-threatening.

It’s certainly not a pretty picture when you see someone at a concert drop down on the floor having a massive seizure, especially if it’s house or metal, where these kinds of drugs enhance the enjoyment of the music. Seemingly, people who are fed up with the tedium of everyday life and need to rewind reach for such quick and easy solutions just for the hell of it, but are they really? You can’t deny the heavy burden of social pressure when it comes to “just trying” stuff that you’ll regret later.

Lad culture in general is filled with uninspired escapism, but hey, whatever. Just pop that Molly and don’t worry about it.


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July 2021
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