3-MMC: The Party Drug with No Comedown?

Sometimes it feels like the drug world is a continuous game of cat and mouse. The law being the cat, and the drug-makers being the mouse. Every time a substance is banned, another synthetic one will pop up in raving culture, that is supposedly better and legal. That’s exactly what we have with the designer drug: 3-MMC.

Short for 3-Methylmethcathinone, this synthetic stimulant is part of the cathinone class of chemicals, with effects similar to those of amphetamines and MDMA. There are a lot of disparate opinions surrounding this substance, with some users claiming it has the high of ecstasy, without the comedown. However, there’s also very little scientific research into the drug. We’re going to be delving into the chemistry of 3-MMC, hearing first-hand accounts from users, and figuring out whether this drug has some sort of magical powers that others do not. Let’s go. 

Designer Drugs

There’s no doubt that drug culture is very hard to keep up with nowadays. New, cool and intriguing substances are popping and then slowly diminishing from people’s awareness all of the time. A lot of these substances are designer drugs. Designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs or research chemicals, are substances created in a laboratory to mimic the effects of existing drugs while avoiding legal restrictions or detection in standard drug tests. These drugs are designed by altering the chemical structure of known compounds or creating entirely new compounds that interact with the body’s receptors in ways similar to traditional drugs like opioids, stimulants, or hallucinogens. Science Direct writes:

“Designer drugs of abuse exist in a dynamic market with new drugs appearing all the time. Based on their chemical structures, designer drugs can be classified into amphetamine types… It is important to stay at the forefront of drug detection techniques and strategies to allow speedy identification of new substances as they emerge.”

Each new substance will have a moment of being popular and – in a sense – legal, until eventually it is discovered by law enforcement and cracked down on. Designer drugs are chemically modified versions of existing drugs or entirely new compounds. These alterations are often made to evade existing drug laws and regulations. By changing the chemical structure, manufacturers hope to create substances that are not explicitly controlled by legal frameworks. At first, when these new substances are easy to access and legal, they become increasingly popular as party drugs. However, the moment they become illegal and difficult to access like any other substance, people will often return to the usual favourite banned substances. These include: cocaine, MDMA and ketamine. The types of ‘new’ designer substances that have stood the test of time include: spice, crystal meth and 2CB. There is always a worry and an excitement with designer drugs, which is due to the chemical structure change that happens to them. This alteration can either be incredibly dangerous, or can lead to a new and incredible effect that no other recreational substance has ever had. It’s two sides of the same coin. 

What is 3-MMC?

In the last few years, 3-MMC has broken into the limelight. You may have heard of it, you may have not, but it’s certainly been raising some eyebrows. Let’s see what this synthetic substance actually is. 3-MMC is a synthetic compound that shares structural similarities with both cathinone and methcathinone, two substances known for their stimulant properties. It acts as a releasing agent for neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, leading to enhanced mood, increased energy, and heightened alertness. The chemical structure of 3-MMC has evolved as an attempt to create a legal alternative to substances like MDMA and amphetamines. 

How It’s Taken

Users take 3-MMC much the same as MDMA. It comes, most commonly, in a white powder that can be bombed (wrapped in a rizla and swallowed), snorted or poured in a drink. Sometimes 3-MMC can also be sold in a pre-made capsule that can then be swallowed. 

The Effects

Effects of 3-MMC have been reported to include:

  • Euphoria
  • Horniness 
  • Energy
  • Distorted sense of time and vision
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Gurning 
  • Increased empathy and affection
  • Increased sensations
  • No comedown? (we’ll analyse this later)

The Rise of 3-MMC

The rise of 3-MMC has been recent, existing as a ‘legal’ designer drug version of 4-MMC (mephedrone). The Face writes:

“It was one of the most popular drugs at English summer festivals last year, with research finding that 45 percent of substances sold as ​“MDMA” last year in fact contained cathinones. One of the most prevalent cathinones was 3‑MMC.”

Supposedly, at the Lost Village UK festival, the substance was being sold as Louis Vuitton pills, pretending to be ecstasy. Due to covid restrictions in 2020-2022, the demand for MDMA was not being matched by the lack of supply. Because of this, 3-MMC was being sold instead. This was occurring all around Europe. In 2022, the European Commission made it their goal to ban the substance of 3-MMC, after reporting its increase in supply around the continent. The Face goes on to write:

“Many countries in the EU are just banning 3‑MMC now, so this has become part of the bizarre game of whack-a-mole between the law-makers and underground chemists. One substance gets banned, another pops up in its place like an unelected Tory prime minister.”

So whilst it’s rather comical to watch this game of whack-a-mole, it is important to understand what 3-MMC actually feels like. You can list off a bunch of supposed effects that a drug might have, but really what counts is people’s genuine, real-life accounts. Does this drug genuinely have no comedown?

What 3-MMC Feels Like

As we’ve heard, 3-MMC has very similar effects to MDMA. Due to this, some have made the case that the drug has the euphoria of ecstasy, without any of the next-day comedown. Of course, if that was to be true, it would be a serious game changer. I myself was attending festivals in London in 2021/2, during the supposed MDMA-shortage period, and remembered friend’s talking about this new mandy-like substance. All they said to me was that it felt slightly less potent than MDMA, which annoyed quite a few people if I recall. Vice reports speaking to a user of 3-MMC, who warns:

“Psychologically, 3-MMC can make you feel euphoric, sociable and increase your libido. However, it also has side effects: insomnia, anxiety and even psychosis… “It’s a FOMO drug,” Giraud explains. “It completely messes up with your notion of pleasure. It’s as if you were about to cum, but you never actually do.”

What this user claims, is that 3-MMC does not quite live up to the euphoric sensation of mandy. Meaning that you are constantly in that limbo stage, waiting for the satisfaction to come, but it never really does. Maybe there’s something to this. If 3-MMC is a slightly less potent version of MDMA, then it would make sense to assume that the next-day comedown would also be less potent too. Here are two accounts from Reddit users:

“I didn’t think 3mmc had one. I plan on using one last time for a festival in 2 weeks and then I will only use it monthly. It’s incredibly underrated, I saw much negativity towards it, but it was so unique. I think it’s great when you want to have an mdma like experience, without the mdma comedown and high serotonin depletion”

“I almost feel as if I’m in an afterglow today, after using for 2 days and only sleeping for 7 hours… I don’t ever do stuff like this often though, so maybe that’s why.”

For those unaware, the term ‘afterglow’ describes a pleasant feeling that remains after something equally pleasant has just happened. In a sense, it’s the opposite of a comedown. However, this is not the only reputation of 3-MMC. Actually, it has also had quite a lot of bad press too. The Face describes its effects quite vividly:

“Think: the stimulant effects of MDMA but minus the rushy empathy, the horniness of cocaine without the ego, and the longevity of speed but with a worse comedown. It feels like halfway between ecstasy and coke but it lasts a lot longer. With clean MDMA, you can expect to sleep when you get home from a club. With 3‑MMC, you’re not going to sleep for a while. This is a drug that’ll keep you in the club until that traumatic moment when they turn the house lights on and it feels like your brain is dribbling out of your eyeballs.”

Does this not sound like the polar opposite of the accounts that we’ve heard so far? Reddit users also go on to agree with the idea of this end-of-the-night feeling:

“3-MMC has some of the worst comedowns of any drug I’ve tried (and I’ve tried quite a few). It’s only redeemed slightly by the fact that the comedown doesn’t last too long”

“I’ve experienced 1 of the worse comedowns from 3mmc. Gotta add that I used to binge for 2 days with 5 g’s whenever I took 3m. 3mmc can have gnarly comedowns.”


Final Thoughts

With any reasonably new designer substance, it’s really difficult to find any sustained truths of the effects. As is the case with this game of cat and mouse, the mouse has to constantly find different ways to dodge from the hands of the law. Thus, these varying effects could be due to structural differences in the substances that these users are taking. Who knows? What is clear however is that people experience all drugs in their own way, and whilst some people get incredibly bad comedowns, others do not. This has always been the way of the recreational drug world. It is incredibly hard to know, for certain, how a substance will make you feel – especially when it’s fresh in the game. So does 3-MMC have no comedown? Well, reports seem to suggest yes and no. But maybe you know something we don’t? Tell us your stories.

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How MDMA Got Sassafras Banned

You might be familiar with the sassafras plant. You’re also probably familiar with the drug MDMA, even if you only know it by name and not experience. What you probably don’t know, is that MDMA is the likely reason that the otherwise innocent sassafras plant, was banned in the US and beyond.

A little on sassafras

The first thing to know about sassafras is that its not a psychoactive plant. It doesn’t make a person high or euphoric, it doesn’t bring on hallucinations, and it was never used in either of these capacities. However, it has a powerful ability as a medicinal plant, and its history is mainly as this.

Sassafras originated in Cherokee territory, and entered European culture by way of European settlers. Beyond North America, there are two species of the plant that originate in East Asia. The North American version is classified as Sassafras albidum. The whole plant is an aromatic plant, and the roots, in particular, are used to make oil. Sassafras oil contains at least 80% safrole, which is the compound most associated with its medical benefits.

Cherokee traditions use the oil for a number of issues, including venereal diseases, skin ailments, rheumatism, diarrhea, appetite suppression, colds, as a vulnerary wash, for blood purification, and enhancing other herbal concoctions. It’s used as an abortifacient, perfume, natural insect repellent, as a natural pain reliever, to treat lice, and to soothe insect bites, as well.

The Cherokee harvest only young plants with red stems. According to local traditions, the red-stemmed plants are considered medicine; while the alternate white-stemmed plants, are considered poison. This idea may or may not be related to how the plant is viewed today. And it might shine a light on the idea that knowing how to prepare something, is the difference between safe and dangerous.

Sassafras plant

Sassafras also used to be an ingredient in root beer. In fact, sassafras was responsible for much of the taste. However, because of its current illegal standing, other artificial ingredients now replace sassafras, changing the taste of the soda. Some say, for the worse. If you crush or tear a sassafras leaf, you’ll get that great root beer smell.

A bit on MDMA

You might have forgotten while reading through about sassafras, that this is actually an MDMA-related article. MDMA is a psychostimulant, which acts similarly to classical psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT), in that it acts as an agonist at 5-HT serotonin receptors, forcing the brain to release more serotonin, and blocking re-absorption to force more into the brain.

MDMA, or 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine is often referred to as ecstasy, although this term sometimes simply denotes an impure product. It also goes by the name Molly, which is short for ‘molecular.’

It was created in 1912 by Merck Pharmaceutical. It wasn’t used or understood much at this time; and essentially sat on a back shelf until the 1970’s, when Alexander Shulgin found a new way to synthesize the drug. He subsequently tested it out with his therapist friends; who began using it in their practices along with assisted therapy. It was found that MDMA reduced fear and anxiety in at least some people, while also increasing feelings of empathy and overall connection between people.

Though it seemed to work well in psychiatric practice, the drug was nonetheless made illegal by the US federal government in 1985, by way of the previously installed Comprehensive Crime Control Act from the year before. This law allows the government to immediately ban a substance it deems dangerous; and was used at its onset to make LSD and magic mushrooms illegal.

Much like its psychedelic cousins, and other hallucinogens like ketamine; MDMA came back into prominence in the last few years. Cannabis legalization has softened the public’s feelings toward some drugs, and compounds like MDMA have been able to gain more traction than they were in decades prior. In the case of MDMA, particularly for its ability to help with PTSD reactions; something that can be seen in EEG and fMRI research.

Colorado was the first state to legalize medical MDMA, contingent on a US approval. Australia was the first country to pass a medical legalization. Currently, the company MAPS has an MDMA drug for PTSD which received ‘breakthrough therapy’ status from the FDA; indicating a desire to get this product to market quickly.

How MDMA got sassafras banned

We’re now talking about a psychostimulant compound that acts like a classic psychedelic in many ways, including producing hallucination experiences; and a plant with a long history as a medicine for many ailments, but no psychoactive response. What is the connection between the two; and how did MDMA cause sassafras to get banned?

Chemical formula for MDMA
Chemical formula for MDMA

MDMA is a purely synthetic drug, which might make you wonder why sassafras is involved at all. Now consider that LSD, also a completely synthetic drug, is synthesized using the ergot fungus which grows on tainted rye plants. When getting into pharmaceuticals, you’ll find that a large proportion of pharmaceutical drugs are synthesized using plant material.

Despite the fact sassafras was used for tons of purposes by different Native American tribes over hundreds of years, the FDA decided that safrole is carcinogenic, and banned the oil’s use in food products. In fact, a Science Direct article actually makes the statement: “Because of toxicity, carcinogenicity, and lack of therapeutic benefit, the use of this plant cannot be recommended under any circumstance.”

And yet it had been used medically for hundreds of years, making this a strange statement. After all, its not uncommon for a plant oil to be dangerous in high amounts. Think of mint, or cinnamon, or oregano oil. Yet they weren’t banned. So perhaps this banning has more to do with the fact that safrole is a building block for creating MDMA.

Basically, sassafras oil is used to make illicit MDMA. According to a DEA notice meant to inform the public, “individuals and businesses handling safrole and essential oils rich in safrole, such as sassafras oil, “brown” camphor oil 1.070, also referred to as Chinese sassafras oil, that they are sometimes used in the manufacture of MDMA. MDMA is also known as ecstasy, and is often spelled XTC. MDMA is a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.”

It goes on to try to illicit a little fear, warning “Criminals are always searching for sources of safrole and essential oils rich in safrole,” and that “handlers of safrole need to know their customers so as not to become an unwitting supplier to a clandestine MDMA laboratory.” As per this idea, the DEA then requires that any provider who uses sassafras compounds to report to the DEA information related to moving large quantities, unusual payments, or anything that the provider might think is suspect.

It’s also required to report if working with anyone known to the DEA, or if the plant material inexplicably gets lost, especially when in high amounts. The DEA then goes on to confirm “It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess or distribute safrole, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, the safrole will be used to manufacture MDMA.”

The inconsistent story of how and why this happened

The new way to synthesize MDMA started in the 1970’s with Alexander Shulgin. Prior to this time, there is not much written about issues with sassafras, though MDMA wasn’t used or known about. It had been found decades earlier, but wasn’t a part of the medical or psychiatric world. So, no MDMA yet, and no complaint or issue with sassafras. Or last least, no confirmable issues. There are stories about studies from the 50’s, but I can’t find any. I did see one reference from 1950, in this article; but nothing else.

In the 1970’s, MDMA started appearing more, and this brought it to the attention of US authorities. In 1979 (according to some sources), the FDA subsequently banned sassafras because of a study with rats that used insanely large doses to draw the conclusion that sassafras causes cancer in rats; and therefore might in humans. To be clear, this problem didn’t actually come up in humans, and all talk of cancer and poisonings don’t match general history. Its good to remember, sassafras oil and tea were widely used. Yet somehow, the plant was banned on the premise of a danger that was never seen.

Recreational ecstasy use

As tends to be the case in fear-mongering articles meant to make the public think a particular way; sassafras has not subsequently shown any similar danger to humans, as it did to rats. Though the plant is banned, the danger has not been backed up. In fact, it’s rather difficult to follow the research/policy chain, as the story changes according to different sourcing, and is wildly inconsistent.

For example, in some publications, like here from McGill University, it speaks of the FDA banning sassafras due to research showing carcinogenic effects and oxidative damage in mice. But the study it links to, is from 1999, and doesn’t mention the FDA or a ban. However, in this article, it mentions the FDA ban following research in 1979. It does not link to any article or research paper. Go to Wikipedia, and it says that the FDA banned sassafras oil in 1960 – which would then be well before MDMA, and give credence to a lack of connection between the two. It goes on to say the tea was banned in 1977, but that that ban was lifted in 1994.

Wikipedia links to an NIH article entitled Botanical Dietary Supplements Gone Bad from 2007, which mentions the date 1960. However, the articles it links to in support, are from 1983 and after. And its statement about banning by the FDA is attached to a 1994 study. Perhaps this was a re-banning. The article makes this troubling statement: “These experiments confirm the genotoxic effects of safrole and thus justify the restrictions made by the FDA and other health authorities.”

Whether the date is 1960 (a couple sources give the date, but with no confirming evidence), or 1977-1979 (much more likely); the implication is that this was done without any corroborating evidence. To the point that the NIH article makes it sound like subsequent research backed up a ban that was put in place before research was available. Of course, as its not backed up in life; it appears the research was done as a substantiating measure for something put in place for other reasons.

Moving on, this Science Direct article, which mentions that the FDA prohibits sassafras in food products, attaches to nothing explaining why, or the date the ban happened. And Medicine Net? It specifically says the FDA banned sassafras tea in 1976, though that might only account for tea. There is no attached information. Mashed.com gives the date of 1976 for the FDA ban as well.

According to EatThePlanet, a ban was put in place in 1960 due to research from the 1950s indicating safrole can cause cancer in rats. Once again, nothing is attached to back this up. Between all sourcing taking place after 1960, and given its clear affiliation with MDMA; this date is questionable, though I cannot rule it out. As I cannot find hard backing for the other dates given either, its impossible for me to say when this actually happened, or why. And this in and of itself, is a very strange thing.


The result of this investigation is that I cannot find one source that gives a definitive date for the sassafras ban, a law or piece of regulation attached to it, or any information on study results prior to the 1980s. We’re not talking about 500 years ago, either, we’re talking about the last few decades; which makes these discrepancies very unusual. This is compounded by the differing information from nearly every different publication, and that sassafras is used to create an illicit drug. It seems the line that sassafras is carcinogenic, is likely just a guise to try to stop illicit MDMA production.

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Arkansas Vs US Over Delta-8

Arkansas recently passed legislation to ban cannabis compound delta-8, and other compounds; even when derived from hemp. This led to controversy due to the 2018 Farm Bill, which now involves federal courts. Did Arkansas go too far by including compounds derived from hemp? Read on for more info on this story.

Arkansas ban on hemp-derived delta-8

The current controversy in Arkansas stems from a bill (Act 629) that was signed by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders on April 11th of this year. The law is aimed at taming the growing illicit cannabinoids market; by instituting a ban on the production, sale, possession, and transfer of any products with compounds like delta-8, delta-9, delta-10, and so on. The state rescheduled these compounds to Schedule IV, which is the same for standard cannabis. Basically the ban is on anything potentially intoxicating.

According to the legislators who supported the legislation, the ban is necessary because of unregulated stores that sell unregulated products, without checking IDs. There is a logic point, of course; that these stores already function outside of regulation, so instituting regulation isn’t likely to help. I suppose it gives backing for raids, which must be the primary reason for passing such legislation anywhere it does pass…as otherwise it would be expecting non tax-paying businesses, to care about something they don’t care about.

Regardless of the missed logic, the law passed, was signed by the governor in April, and set to go into effect on August 1st. A day before it was scheduled to do so, four lawsuits dropped on the state, by hemp product makers. The four producers are: Bio Gen, out of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Greenbrier, Arkansas’s Drippers Vape & Hemp Relief; Hometown Hero CBD from Austin, Texas; and Smoker Friendly out of Boulder, Colorado.

Arkansas is not a recreational cannabis state

The lawsuits claim that Arkansas’s Act 629, is in violation of the 2018 US Farm Bill, aka the Federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018; which legalized industrial hemp, and gave it a new definition that legally separates it from marijuana. The plaintiffs also argue that the law gets in the way of their industry and livelihood, and that it’s in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s commerce and supremacy clauses.

The latter is particularly important as it concerns protections for interstate commerce, and those tasked with bringing products over state lines. This law, according to plaintiff attorney Abtin Mehdizadegan, can now mean a person can face “criminal sanction for products now deemed illegal despite what the federal law says,” according to a thv11 article.

Arkansas defense for delta-8 ban

The 2018 US Farm Bill is a piece of federal legislation that legalized the production, sale, possession, and use of hemp products. It does not legalize any specific hemp or hemp-derived products for medical or other therapeutic use, but it doesn’t specifically disallow them either, creating a little gray area. Add onto that, that most products like delta-8 require some amount of synthetic processing, and the reality becomes that it’s not exactly a legal market.

Having said that, this is not Arkansas’s excuse exactly. The ban is not specifically about synthetics, though the topic is mentioned. Griffin stated “Arkansas recognizes that industrial hemp is a valuable commodity when cultivated as intended. Act 629 does not stifle such production, and instead, protects Arkansas from the adulterated products that result from chemical synthesis.”

The problem with what Arkansas did, is that it went beyond synthetics. It’s one thing to ban the compounds if they come from a marijuana plant, or to tighten the restriction on synthetic processes. It’s even within the limits of legality to really go hard on the .3% THC separating line. But what Arkansas did, is write off tons of products, that if made the correct way, are legal according to US government law. Or at the very least, not illegal. However, since the US government didn’t officially legalize specific products; this case has the potential to put the federal government in quite an odd position.

Arkansas’s Attorney General possibly dug the state in deeper, by actually using the line that the ban should stay, because it was instituted by the state, and that state law wins out over federal law. I repeat that this argument was put forth by Attorney General Tim Griffin in court, according to MJBizDaily.

Arkansas passed a new law that bans delta-8
Arkansas passed a new law that bans delta-8

Griffins is referring to the idea that if something isn’t constitutionally clear, that it can go in either direction; but at no point has this ever meant that a state automatically wins over the federal body. State cannabis legalization measures are based on the lack of constitutional finality on the subject; they did not simply go through because they trump federal policy.

On August 8th, Griffin asked U.S. District Court Judge Billy Roy Wilson to dismiss the lawsuit, in which he made a cheap shot at the plaintiffs for not being of decent standing, and said they didn’t show irreversible harm from the law (which is too newly enacted for such proofs). The case was not dropped; and currently no hearings are scheduled. One could ask what Griffin is really after in this, and what he thinks will really happen. So far, he’s trying to argue that states rights should override federal laws, and he’s been wildly insulting to the plaintiffs in the case.

The only thing Arkansas has to go on for this law, is a stated fear of children getting high. This excuse is made all the time, even while beer cans continue to look like soda, and are sold everywhere. No one dies from cannabis products, with the exception of a few cases where bad additives were used. People do die from opioids, and guess what looks like a little piece of candy… a cute little yellow pill. That the new Arkansas bill says there should be a state of emergency over cannabis products, is an insult to those dealing with real drug danger; like opioids, or alcohol, or cigarette damage.

The case against Arkansas

The case against Arkansas regarding the delta-8 ban, involves several companies, who are together now suing the state. This creates an interesting conundrum for the US government, which they are appealing to. If the plaintiffs get a positive ruling by the court, it would make a ruling on overall legality of certain cannabis products, at least to a degree. This also happened recently when a federal court validated delta-8 products as having a valid trademark, something that an illegal product can’t have.

The federal government has three options. It can uphold its own laws which legalized hemp and hemp-derived compounds. This would work to legalize delta-8 THC, and the other cannabinoids, so long as requirements like not being synthetic, are met. Or, it has the choice of backing Arkansas, in which case it undermines its own laws. Last, it can drop the case, and make no judgement at all; although this too makes a statement in that Arkansas is specifically touting its supremacy over federal law. Really, its very much a catch-22 for the feds.

Arkansas is not the first state to ban compounds like delta-8 THC. Several states have moved to do such things, some with general bans on cannabis in general, and some that have legal markets. Perhaps the biggest issue with what Arkansas did, is that it made the ban without a stipulation for synthetic processing. It just went ahead and banned any of these compounds if they come from hemp, with little-to-no thought about the 2018 Farm Bill, and what it allows.

Legal hemp field post 2018 Farm Bill
Legal hemp field post 2018 Farm Bill

Maybe this case is just a right place at the right time situation. And maybe it goes to show that how a state writes its legislation is important. Overstepping happens, even with legislators trained on writing laws. That, and ego gets involved. Regardless of whether Griffin is agreed with or not on certain points, he was divisive and unnecessarily mean about the plaintiffs in the case; and that is a highly unprofessional, ego-motivated move. And that doesn’t say much for Arkansas right now.


This is certainly a case to watch, because it’s one of those cases that comes along at the right time. The federal government must now make a decision regarding the validity of the Arkansas ban on cannabinoids like delta-8. And in doing so, that decision might force a legal reckoning for certain products. Even throwing out the case makes a statement at this point, as it makes it look like the federal government can’t back up its own laws.

As a final note, I cannot find so much as one place where it says the federal court this case is filed in. This is a bit odd as all articles thus far speak of a federal case, yet there is not one document related. Perhaps the case is private. I note here that I don’t like situations where I’m passing on information that I cannot verify.

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Are You Tripping On Fake LSD?

There are so very many drugs out there; and so very many that are made by governments or research entities. One of interest, has been around since 2003, and goes by the name 25I-NBOMe. This drug is sometimes sold as fake LSD. What is the stuff, is it comparable to the acid we know and love, and is it dangerous? Read on for more info.

The real LSD

The idea of fake is often attached to something that’s synthetic, or unnatural. But it can also mean a phony version of something else that already exists; even if that something else is also synthetic. For the first scenario, think of something like ‘fake leather.’ Its a synthetic version of something that exists in nature. And though its meant to mimic animal hide, the synthetic version is usually made animal-free.

As far as the second scenario, consider fake brands and knockoff products. This implies one company copying another, and selling products as that other company. It doesn’t matter if the product is natural or fake. The idea is that what’s being sold, is the fake version of an already existent product. Both are the case with the drug of interest today, 25I-NBOMe. Its both a synthetic compound, and also a fake version of LSD; something that already exists.

Acid, or LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide; is a synthetic drug, which was brought to us by Albert Hoffman in 1938. He was working at Sandoz Lab in Switzerland, trying to find functional uses for the ergot fungus, which grows on tainted rye. The lab isolated and studied different compounds from the plant, all of which came from the same starting point of lysergic acid. On his 25th time of pairing the lysergic acid with another compound, this time a derivative of ammonia, called diethylamine; he created the combination called LSD-25.

Hoffman didn’t ingest the compound until 1943; which led to his rather psychedelic bike ride home, the first report of LSD effects; and which thenceforth helped to create a counterculture movement concentrated on this, and other naturally-occurring, psychedelic drugs. Though LSD is synthesized using the ergot plant, its a drug that can only be made in a lab. There is question as to whether ergot itself has some of the capabilities of LSD, but this remains undetermined.

LSD is one of four psychedelic drugs; however, the rest of them are naturally occurring. Together with DMT, mescaline, and psilocybin, LSD gets the title of a psychedelic hallucinogen. These drugs are grouped based on a similar mode of action, which includes elevating serotonin levels. Though the drug MDMA functions similarly; its categorized as a psychostimulant, rather than a psychedelic, when it comes to formal classification.

Fake LSD – 25I-NBOMe

The compound 25I-NBOMe, or 25I for short, is sometimes sold as a fake version of LSD. It was formulated in 2003 during research into how the brain uses 2A serotonin receptors. It’s a member of the 2C family (think 2C-B), and like classical psychedelics, has an agonist effect at 5-HT2A receptors. The discovery was made by Ralf Heim in Berlin, at the Free University of Berlin. Heim published the finding in his dissertation; and the drug was subsequently studied by researchers at Purdue University. Here it was studied in rats, where it was found to be stronger than LSD.

25I-NBOMe is sold as fake LSD

Like a lot of compounds that were created in labs for research purposes, 25I-NBOMe ended up as a black market product. It has its own names on the street, like: “N-Bomb”, “Solaris”, “Smiles”, and “Wizard.” Beyond this, 25I-NBOMe is also sold as fake LSD, since it comes with similar effects as the more well-known psychedelic compound. Its entrance into the black market was around 2010. By 2013, it was common enough to show up in medical literature.

25I-NBOMe differs in many ways from LSD. For one, through uptake methods. The drug reportedly does not work by swallowing, and must go more directly into the bloodstream. This is generally done via intranasal, buccal, or sublingual administration. The former means snorting it, since the inside of the nose has many blood vessels. The latter two relate to uptake by the blood vessels around and under the tongue. For these methods, 25I is often put on blotter paper, similarly to LSD. The paper then gets held in the mouth so the compound is taken up through the mucus lining.

When it comes on blotter paper, is when its most mistaken for acid; as acid is often sold this way. Its also found as gel tabs, or put on candy; which are other ways that acid is sold. 25I is supposedly cheaper than LSD, and easier to make; which means selling 25I-NBOMe as fake LSD, is cost-effective for vendors.

The drug is very potent, and doesn’t require much for a result. Common dosing is somewhat debated, but seems to be in the range of 600–1,200 μg. Both LSD and 25I are known to cause bad trips at times. LSD is never associated with much worse than that; and its debatable if 25I is more dangerous.

What does 25I-NBOMe do?

25I-NBOMe is sold as fake LSD, as its similar to the well-known psychedelic. 25I-NBOMe can last between 4-10 hours, depending on how its taken. It has similar effects in that it causes hallucinations; but there are many reports of negative trips with it, and its thought that the prevalence of bad trips is higher with 25I. As per a study of seven men who entered an emergency room on this drug, some of the similar physical effects to acid are; hypertension, tachycardia, (very infrequent) seizures, and hyperpyrexia (increased body temperature). Both drugs cause hallucinations.

In other ways, its reportedly different, possibly causing more aggression, creatine kinase elevation, the electrolyte imbalance metabolic acidosis, acute kidney dysfunction, hypoglycemia, rhabdomyolysis (damage to skeletal muscles), and organ failure. Its not known how commonly such things occur, however, and there are few reported cases of some of these more severe issues. Its often linked to greater amounts of anxiety, panic, and agitation; and there are a few reports of death, though it seems confirmation is just about the presence of the drug.

Woman with a tab of real or fake LSD
Woman with a tab of real or fake LSD

When it comes to the danger of death and disability, its hard to say just how dangerous – or not – the drug really is. There isn’t official human testing, and we know from drugs like cannabis and LSD, that we’re often told a drug is more dangerous than it actually is. While cannabis and LSD aren’t associated with death, the everyday pain medication Tylenol kills about 500 people a year, just to put it in perspective. We don’t get warned much about that.

So I won’t be the next to warn you about this drug, since there isn’t a lot of data, and there certainly isn’t a mass death issue to make the matter clear. Another problem with understanding its danger level, is knowing how many people use it. Without knowing how prominent it is, its impossible to know if the stories attached represent a problem or not. If one in five dies from something, its a problem. If one in 1,000,000 dies, its less so. These numbers are important.

Is this fake LSD dangerous?

To give an idea about what I mean, the first confirmed death related to 25I was not until 2015. It existed on the black market for about five years without a confirmed death attached, and this just means it was confirmed to be in the user’s system. Right away, this makes it questionable that this is really a drug of concern. We don’t have to question how dangerous synthetic opioids are, or if people die from them. When there’s real danger, its usually visible by a certain point. That first case was of a 15-year-old who consumed 25I along with mushrooms, and ended up dying of multi-organ failure.

That year there were yet another couple reports after. One for 25I, and one of a 16-year-old male who consumed a close relative of 25I, called 25B-NBOMe, via a blotter at a party. He was found unresponsive the next day; and was pronounced dead shortly after. Both of these cases involved agitated behavior by the victim.

While there are several research papers that talk about the toxicity, I can’t give more examples of deaths or disability attributed to this drug (or its near relatives), because there isn’t more mentioned beyond bad trip experiences. Its thought that 25I-NBOMe is sold as fake LSD so often, that a lot of the bad trips people experience, are really caused by 25I, not LSD. If this is the case, it actually speaks to the lack of true detriment; as this means many, many people have taken it (LSD is one of the most popular illicit drugs), with less than five deaths attached from over a decade.

It seems one of the main issues with 25I-NBOMe and other NBOMes, is that they cause more agitation and psychosis. This can lead to thrashing around by the user; which is the impetus for many of the injuries suffered by those on the drug. It’s also possibly associated with suicide; but this assertion too is centered around just a couple cases.

Is 25I-NBOMe dangerous?
Is 25I-NBOMe dangerous?

The first case from 2015, involved an 18-year old who took it thinking it was acid. He experienced a trip, followed by growing anxiety and confusion. He subsequently stabbed himself with scissors, to get out of the trip. Another reportedly jumped to his death in 2017 after taking a blotter at a party, but its unclear if he was on other drugs. Other party-goers explained the blotters were sold at the party, indicating a lot of people probably also ingested them. Yet this is the only report of its nature.

These are just two cases, and what happened isn’t well defined in the reporting of either. Just for a little more perspective, at the same time the debate over the compound’s safety goes on, there’s also a huge debate as to whether government-approved antidepressants raise the risk of suicide. This argument isn’t based off of just two cases, and concerns drugs which are prescribed everyday to millions of people, including kids.


We’ve got fakes markets for just about anything, so maybe its not that weird that 25I-NBOMe is sold as fake LSD. Though this compound has caused a couple problems, it seems the biggest issue is in producing a bad trip. For those not looking to inadvertently experiment with it, or get sold a fake product; maybe best to stick with mushrooms or DMT instead.

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Study: Most Users Experience Little to No Psychedelic Effects from THC-O-Acetate

Understanding cannabinoids is a key element of understanding cannabis as a whole, and while even the most novice consumers are generally familiar with the staples like THC and CBD, the cannabinoid world has gotten notably more complex with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill and the booming hemp-derived cannabinoid market that followed.

A number of new synthetic and semi-synthetic cannabinoids have emerged—technically derived from hemp and not naturally occurring in nature, with the potential to still offer psychoactive effects. Among these new cannabinoids is THC-O, or THC-O-acetate. The cannabinoid is created by chemically converting CBD into delta-9 or delta-8 THC, then converting those cannabinoids into their acetate ester form.

It’s chemically very similar to delta-9 THC, though the effects of THC-O are often considered to be stronger than delta-8, delta-9, delta-10 THC or HHC, another synthetic cannabinoid. Claims online, on social media and on manufacturer websites have gone so far to claim that THC-O-acetate elicits a psychedelic effect, similar to drugs like LSD or psilocybin.

Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Buffalo (UB) has taken a closer look at the claims, examining the alleged psychedelic effects of THC-O-acetate and ultimately finding that the claims have been greatly exaggerated.

The First Study to Examine Psychedelic Potential of THC-O-Acetate

In the study abstract, researchers note the growing interest in semi-synthetic cannabinoids over the years. The rise of THC-O has raised questions among health professionals and industry leaders alike, but even other cannabinoids like hemp-derived THC have caused quite a stir as an unintended consequence of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Two researchers, lead author Daniel J. Kruger and co-author Jessica S. Kruger, had previously conducted a study on the effects of delta-8 THC. This study is the first to examine the claim that THC-O-acetate produces psychedelic effects. To test the claim, researchers developed an online survey for consumers who had tried the cannabinoids, assessing the experiential profile of THC-O-acetate and including questions from the Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ), which is designed to assess psychedelic experiences.

“THC-O-acetate has been getting a lot of attention because people are saying it’s stronger than regular THC and there are these claims that it produces psychedelic effects. We wanted to study this and see, is there really a psychedelic cannabinoid? Can we find evidence that THC-O-acetate has this effect? And the answer is, not so much,” said study lead author Kruger, research associate professor in the School of Public Health and Health Professions and research scientist in the Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

The survey asked nearly 300 participants to share the extent to which they experienced a number of symptoms when using THC-O-acetate, including altered sense of time, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, euphoria, hallucinations, pain relief, paranoia and relaxation. Participants also completed items from the MEQ and were asked which, if any, psychedelics they had used.

Don’t Buy the Hype

Respondents widely reported (79%) that the effects of THC-O-acetate were “not at all” or “a little” psychedelic. In regard to the MEQ, responses were significantly below the threshold for a complete mystical experience, and those who had previously used classic psychedelics score lower on all MEQ dimensions. Rather, the most widely reported THC-O-acetate experiences were moderate relaxation, euphoria and pain relief.

According to Kruger, there are three likely explanations behind the reports of psychedelic experiences among THC-O-acetate users: It may be because of expectations based on what users have read about the cannabinoid, some users may have experiences an intense high and mistaken it for a psychedelic experience or the product may have been contaminated.

“People have to be careful,” Kruger said. “It’s possible that some of these extreme effects are the result of some sort of contamination, and that’s one of the real dangers of these products if you don’t really know what’s in them.”

Kruger also harped on the need for consumers to verify that products undergo third-party testing and have results clearly posted for consumers.

“There’s tons of interest in delta-8 and THC-O-acetate, and lots of claims being made about them with virtually no research,” Daniel Kruger says. “They’re really new to the consumer market and cannabis still has this weird mix of policies where it’s illegal at the federal level, so we don’t have national regulations, certainly not the kind of testing you’d have with a prescription drug.”

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Xylazine – The Next Big Threat, Or Just an Overreaction?

There are some weighty drug issues in America. Whether you’re focused on the opioid crisis, or looking at meth or benzodiazepines, there’s a lot to worry over.  And perhaps amid all this, the media can get carried away. The next big threat getting coverage? A drug called xylazine. Is this one we should be concerned over, or just hype due to America’s general drug issues?

What is xylazine?

So what is this drug which sounds like a cross between a pharma product and a musical instrument? Xylazine is a drug that was lab-created in 1962 as an anti-hypertensive drug. It was discovered by scientists in Germany working for Farbenfabriken Bayer. It works as a central nervous system depressant, and has sedation, anesthetic, pain-relieving, and muscle relaxant effects.

Unlike a drug like ketamine, which isn’t as destabilizing to the body, xylazine use lowers blood pressure and heart rate, making for a greater possibility of death, especially in conjunction with other CNS depressants. It’s technically only cleared by the FDA in the US for use in animals, for which its often used alongside ketamine. Use in humans wasn’t approved due to issues like hypotension and bracycardia. It’s mainly used for bigger animals like horses, cattle, and deer as a part of veterinary medicine.

News reports indicate the drug has surfaced in American drug culture, though not necessarily by direct use. Instead, its rising in popularity as a cutting agent for drugs like heroin and fentanyl. When mixed with fentanyl, its known as ‘sleep-cut’, ‘zombie drug’ and ‘tranq dope’. It’s at least somewhat associated with causing skin sores and infections, mainly at injection sites. This is due to it killing the surrounding cells, (necrosis) in the area, and related infections.

Xylazine molecule

The drug is an analog of the drug clonidine, a blood pressure medication. It works by being an agonist at α2 receptors. It’s given by injection, either IV (in the vein), or IM (in a muscle). It has an extremely short half-life in animals like dogs, cattle, horses, and sheep; which is generally under six minutes, and as little as just over one minute.

This means its completely eliminated in under a half hour to about 50 minutes depending on specific animal; making it an extremely short-acting drug. In smaller animals like rats, the half-life is longer, coming to closer to an hour. According to research, the length of the half life is most related to age of the animal; but it seems there is a lack of hard and consistent information on this aspect.

In humans, the half-life is also very short. Though injection is the most common way to take it for humans, it can be taken orally, subcutaneously, or via inhalation as well. In humans, effects start after about 15-20 minutes, and can last up to about four hours. Once again, there is not a huge amount of information on this.

Though it has gained momentum in the news recently, it’s been a recreational drug since about 1979, or at least, that’s when the first reported case of toxicity was reported. Its used for recreational purposes in the US and Puerto Rico mainly, and was behind several deaths in a Puerto Rican prison in the early 2000’s. While xylazine is associated with overdose along with other drugs, it doesn’t seem to cause a huge death toll (or much of any) on its own.

Recent increase in xylazine use

The reality is, there isn’t a huge amount of information on this drug. Not on exactly what its capable of doing to humans, or in how often its used. But recent reports indicate that its seen more and more in overdose victims. According to the CDC, xylazine was implicated in less than 1% of overdose deaths in 2015 (as per a study on 10 cities), and rose to 7% by 2020. It said in Maryland between 2020-2021, 80% of opioid syringe samples tested by eight syringe testing programs, were positive for the drug.

According to a Newsweek article, between 2015-2020, in Pennsylvania it went from being involved in 2% of overdose deaths to 26%. Philadelphia, PA specifically reported (via CDC) that xylazine was found in 31% of overdoses involving both heroine and fentanyl in just 2019, and 90% of tested heroin samples, in 2021. In Connecticut, it was found in 10% of overdose deaths in 2020, and 19% in Maryland for 2021.

Xylazine is usually injected with other drugs
Xylazine is usually injected with other drugs

In just 2020-2021, xylazine in overdose victims increased by 103% in the Northeast of the US, 516% in the Midwest, 750% in the West of the country, and 1,127% in the South, as per the DEA via Newsweek. These increases point to its understood use as a cutting agent pretty much nationally.

It’s good to remember when looking at these numbers, though, that xylazine’s main use is only as a cutting agent for drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Which means its quite possible that none, or few, of the people who were found with it in their systems upon death, knew they were taking it. This likely goes for nearly all its use. The numbers do indicate that its use for this purpose has risen astronomically. It’s even thought these numbers might be low, as the drug isn’t always tested for. Or at least, hasn’t been until the recent spike in use.

To give an idea of how states are responding, Pennsylvania recently and temporarily made it into a controlled substance because of its widespread use in synthetic opioids. This went into effect June 3rd. This does not, however, stop its approved uses as a veterinary medicine.

Part of the ability for its quick spread, is likely due to not being a controlled substance in the US. As a veterinary medicine, its easily obtained online from suppliers. According to the DEA, it goes beyond this, and is often sold regardless of veterinary use. It points to Chinese suppliers, but its quite possible that that’s a limited scope.

One last aspect of xylazine which causes concern, is that it can’t be treated in the same way as opioids upon overdose. Right now, the drug naloxone is administered for opioid overdoses, and has the ability to reverse the effects. Xylazine does not respond to this, which could indicate that overdose victims have a lesser chance of survival when this is added in, even when receiving treatment for overdose.

Is this comparable to the opioid crisis?

Though its often written about now as a comparable threat to something like fentanyl, this seems to be incorrect on two levels. For one, it fundamentally doesn’t show the overdose rate of fentanyl, or opioids. Those drugs can cause death alone, regardless of being mixed with other drugs; though they often are. Xylazine isn’t known for its direct death toll, and none of the statistics I mentioned, are due to direct death. With such a short period of action, a lot is required with prolonged use, for an overdose.

American opioid crisis
American opioid crisis

Secondly, its not being sought after like fentanyl and other opioids. Fentanyl might end up in unwanted places, but its also a drug specifically bought. It seems literally all use of xylazine is as an additive by producers, so users themselves are not seeking it out. Thus, if its spread were inhibited, this wouldn’t be missed by those using the drugs its associated with. This is not the same for opioids, which are specifically sought after for direct use.

Having said all that, its definitely not a good thing to have more bad substances mixed into substances which can already kill people. Though xylazine does not seem to cause the same threat in getting people hooked, or being the drug of choice, it can certainly add a threat in conjunction with other drugs. As a drug which causes depression of the CNS, this makes the drugs its used with, that much more dangerous. In that sense, regardless of what the people are looking for, the growing use of this drug does pose a problem. Just not exactly the same kind that synthetic opioids do.

As per recent US statistics via the CDC, the overdose death toll for 2022 did increase, though at a lower rate than other years. Preliminary data indicates 109,680 deaths for the year, up from 109,179 the year before (originally reported as 107,622, indicating last year’s final number will also undergo adjustments). Unfortunately, a lower rate of increase, is still an increase; which means the drug problem has not been helped by any measures taken.

The grand majority of these deaths are related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl and oxycodone, although drugs like methamphetamine also contribute as large death toll drugs. As xylazine is specifically used in these drugs, it certainly does nothing good to have it around.

As a note, and I like to make this clear, regardless of which part you want to focus on, the entirety of these issues are lab-created. Even heroin started out as a pharmaceutical medicine back in the day, and so did meth. These are not issues of natural substances, meaning every death that occurs from these drugs, goes back to pharmaceutical companies, and the promotion of use through government regulation. This seems to be coupled with our extensive need to get high, which shows not just through the mentioned drugs, but in new drugs popping up all the time, like gas station heroin )also pharmaceutical).


Unless the drug becomes more popular on its own, xylazine is less the issue here, if you’re paying attention. Though it can cause skin ulcerations and necrosis, and contribute to issues because of its use with other drugs; the real problem is that there’s a huge opioid epidemic, for which this drug works as exacerbation. Unless it becomes an actually sought after drug though…getting rid of the opioid issue, would likewise get rid of this one. Something to remember.

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Death Toll Rising: Overdose Deaths 2022 Released

The numbers from the last few years are not encouraging. It seems these days people are dropping left and right, and the main culprit is doctor prescribed medication. Recent data released by the US government shows an increase – though minor – in overdose deaths for 2022. Read on for more info.

Overdose deaths 2022

2022 is now the highest recorded year for overdose deaths in the US, taking the place of the preceding year. Provisional data released by the CDC on Wednesday, May 17th, put the number for 2022 overdose deaths at 109,680. These are not final numbers however. For example, 2021 provisional data put the number at 107,622 deaths. That number rose to 109,179 by the time final numbers came out. Final numbers for 2022 are likely to be a bit higher than what just came out. Either way, still an increase from the previous year.

The most troubling factor in this, is that over 2/3 of these deaths, are attributable to synthetic opioids. Opioids are based on compounds from the opium plant, but are not naturally occurring, and are instead made in a lab. Whereas synthetic versions of weaker opiates (compounds found in the plant) are also given as medication – like codeine; the bigger issue is with the stronger, synthetic offerings. This entire classing of drugs is lab-created, and this whole issue stems not from a black market growing, but from doctors prescribing these medications.

The drug with the biggest share of the death toll? Fentanyl. Its estimated that of 2022 numbers, more than 75,000 of the total 109,680 are attributable to synthetic opioids, with fentanyl leading the way. Fentanyl is strong in its own right, but is often mixed with other drugs, either purposefully, or accidentally; which leads to many deaths. Other drugs that played a big role in 2022 overdose death numbers, are psychostimulants, like meth and coke; which together made up over a quarter of the deaths.

Overdose deaths strong in 2022

The White House’s Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. Rahul Gupta, had this to say in a statement about the current drug crisis and what the government is doing about it: “We’ve expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we’re improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we’re attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point.”

Of course the bigger issue, which was 100% ignored in the White House statement, is that these are doctor prescribed medications. The whole reason this is an issue at all, is because doctors were acting as dealers…and still are. Whatever other actions might be taken, that point must be remembered. The opioid issue is massively different from other drug issues, in that these drugs are legally prescribed, and their legal prescription is not only what started this mess, but remains ongoing.

Previous years death overdose numbers

On the plus side (however much you can use that term), overdose deaths stayed relatively level from 2021-2022. 109,179 in 2021 is not terribly far from the overdose death number of 2022 – 109,680. Just a rise of a few hundred; although final numbers could put the 2022 number several thousand higher in the end. For now, the numbers indicate that things remained generally consistent, with only a minor increase; but considering an increase is still an increase – it also shows nothing was done to help the problem.

The final number for 2021 overdose deaths – 109,179, was 15%+ higher than 2020, which had approximately 93,000 overdose deaths. That number is a 30% increase from 2019 overdose death numbers, which totaled about ~70,630 deaths. This means just between the years 2019 and 2022, yearly overdose deaths increased by about 40,000 deaths. 2018 numbers weren’t much lower than 2019, with 67,367 overdose deaths that year.

In one of the only instances of a temporary change in trajectory, the 2018 numbers are a 4.1% decline from the previous year’s numbers. In 2017 there were 70,237 overdose deaths, which is almost on par with 2019; making 2018 numbers a temporary dip. Unfortunately, the trajectory did not change overall, and the numbers since increased. Weirdly enough, after that 2018 dip, numbers went up at a much faster rate than they did before. Kind of like the quiet before a storm.

The main issue with synthetic opioids started in the first decade of the century, although it didn’t pick up steam in a grand way until after 2010. Weaker opiate medications have been around for awhile, going back to the late 1800’s. It says a lot about these newer and stronger synthetics, that despite the fact we’ve had access to similar medications for over 100 years, it was only with their entrance that the overdose rate skyrocketed.

Synthetic opioids driving overdose deaths in 2022
Synthetic opioids driving overdose deaths in 2022

Even heroin has been around since the turn of last century, first as an actual medication. And whereas heroin used to represent the worst talking point for overdose deaths; related overdose numbers have stayed at relatively even levels in the last 20+ years. The main increase is in synthetic opioids only. You can see it all very clearly in graphs here.

Issues with White House statement

Obviously, upon information of this nature coming out, the White House must say something. The government has done nothing to stop the legal production of these drugs, which makes it a part of the problem automatically. The government made no bones about illegalizing Quaaludes back in the early 1980’s, despite also saying that they were highly addictive; so it stands to reason that caring about the addictive nature of opioids is not what keeps them legal. For the record, Quaaludes had a negligible death toll, especially compared to opioids.

Black markets exist for drugs that are both legal and not legal. For this particular issue, what set it off was the creation and sale of synthetic opioids. Meaning this is a pharmaceutical company and government-created issue. Given that, it stands out to me that the White House statement says this: “Most of these deaths were caused by illicit synthetic drugs like clandestinely manufactured fentanyl and methamphetamine, often in combination with other drugs including cocaine, heroin, and xylazine.”

Maybe this is true. Maybe most of the deaths are from the black market now, but plenty are not. And it could be that the majority are not. These are doctor prescribed medications. Whatever illicit market there is, is only relevant because of the legal market. The drugs were created by the legal market, NOT the black market. It seems the White House wants readers to associate this entire issue with the black market, and not as a government-regulated problem.

Gupta goes on to say this: “The historic actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration are saving lives. We’ve expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we’re improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we’re attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point. As a result, around 19,000 people are still alive and can be there at the dinner table, at birthdays, and at life’s most important moments.”

Once again, the White House really wants you to focus on the illicit market, not the one it promotes legally. Attacking the illicit supply chain? Why not simply not allow doctors to prescribe the medications? Why not stop their legal production and sale? If you read this without knowing anything about the issue, you’d probably not guess these are legal medications.

Drug overdose deaths
Drug overdose deaths

Even funnier still, is that having done nothing to help the problem, the government then takes credit for saving 19,000 lives. I expect the point Gupta is trying to make, is that the use of Naloxone reversed that many overdoses; but it certainly doesn’t mean that that many people were saved. It means a particular overdose was treated for a person. Not only is the government taking credit, it’s calling this a ‘historic action.’

Gupta goes on, “President Biden has called on us to double down on our efforts to save even more lives so we can beat this crisis, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.” But what does that mean? Even more Naloxone? Is his argument that a drug put out to counteract overdoses, will stop an entire addiction crisis for drugs still wildly available, even legally? Does pumping an alcoholic’s stomach, make them not an alcoholic anymore? Its like, the government is offering nothing, yet trying to take credit for an only small rise in deaths. And ignoring that a rise automatically means nothing improved.

He goes on to talk about seizures of illegal product, seemingly to put attention on the illegal market again. Yet, in not one place does he talk of changing regulation to limit legal production or prescribing. According to the statement, government actions are solely for increasing Naloxone use, and seizures of illicit drugs.

And it continues to ignore the most useful possibility out there: swapping ketamine for opioids. This actual solution is never mentioned at all by any government; which is painfully weird if the idea is to help people. Not only does ketamine show as a more useful pain treatment, and one that can last months after application; but without the addictive properties of opioids. Of course, not mentioning it does go in line with helping pharma companies make money from opioid sales.


Does this leveling off mean that some action is working, and the problem will reverse? Likely, no. Because no suitable actions have been taken. Maybe the problem won’t get worse, and we’ve reached the standard leveling off point. Or maybe this is just a break in the overall trajectory, which will continue up next year. One thing for sure (or pretty sure) is that real change takes real action. Right now, the government isn’t even being honest about where the problem is coming from. So can we really expect it to do anything useful about it?

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Opioid Lawsuit Money: Where Does It All Go?

Johnson & Johnson and friends are paying out a lot of money for their misdeeds; even if they refuse to admit to doing anything wrong. In fact, every state in the US has at least one opioid lawsuit; with the question now of, where does all that settlement money actually go?

How much must be paid & by who?

There isn’t a finite answer to this question, as not every case against the major players like Johnson & Johnson has been settled. And we’re only talking about America right now anyway. So far, over 3,000 suits have been filed by different states and local governments over the pills which have caused a major death toll in America, Canada, and beyond.

The biggest payout comes in the form of a $26 billion settlement that was made between 46 US states and Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. It was brokered in 2021, and dubbed the ‘National Settlement.’ This settlement does not include the four states that didn’t sign on, or anything previously decided or still ongoing. The number also doesn’t include separate lawsuits that have been waged against retailers like Walgreens.

Another of the big settlements has to do with the Native American population of America, a population hit very hard by opioids. This lawsuit was also against the four companies involved in the National Settlement, with a total of $590 million to be paid out to federally recognized tribes. It started as a settlement between AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson and just the Cherokee tribe for $75 million. This was then increased to $440 million, with a stipulation that it can be accessed by any federally recognized tribe member.

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For its part, Johnson & Johnson was also included and has two years to pay out $150 million in this particular case. Of that, $18 million is specifically for the Cherokees. To give an idea of the brazen ego of these companies; upon making this settlement, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that “This settlement is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing and the company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.” I guess the company just likes paying out big sums of money.

Even more opioid lawsuits

It’ not just the pharma companies and distributors that are set to pay a lot of money. Even retailers got hit with lawsuits. CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart were staring down over 300 lawsuits over opioids, and settled for $13 billion in late 2022.

And what of Purdue specifically? The company that skyrocketed this whole issue with the creation of Oxycontin, and all the lies surrounding the usefulness and addictiveness of this drug? It also is in the process of dealing with the fallout of its blatant disregard for humanity. This company isn’t a corporation, and is privately owned by the Sackler family. The family was made to pay out $6 billion in a 2022 settlement, which goes mostly to local and state governments. And this as a part of a revised bankruptcy settlement, just to give an idea how much these little pills are hurting everyone…including those who made them.

Opioid lawsuit money

Even the federal government, which allows the opioids through regulation, is a part of it. The US Justice department made an $8 billion settlement with Purdue, which was reported in October 2022. And who gets this money? It goes to the Treasury Department, which is allocating $1.775 billion for states, tribes, and local governments for the future. And only $225 million for a “public benefit trust” to state and local communities now. It’s thought that once its all told, approximately $50 billion will be paid out from opioid lawsuits altogether on the state and local level.

Opioid lawsuit money: How is it split?

The whole point of these lawsuits is that the drugs hurt (and are still hurting) a lot of people. Now, sure, you can also say the disability damages affect a wider audience, including governments, but the thing to really remember in this, is who the victims are. And that’s primarily people who started opioids for pain issues. When you think about it, these lawsuits have less to do with people who decided to take up the drugs on their own.

So how does the money get to them? Or does it even? States are bringing in millions and billions of dollars from these opioid lawsuits, so where does the money go? This is where things get a bit complicated. And where we have to hope that the created systems, actually use the money appropriately.

The National Academy for State Health Policy is interested in this question, and compiled data to help elucidate the situation by looking at “state legislation, opioid settlement agreements and spending plans, advisory committees, and other entities charged with disbursing state funding”. According to the agency, all the states are setting up regulated structures for money dissemination; some related to the settlements themselves, and some as a part of new policy.

As the biggest payout as of yet, the National Settlement includes both the ability for states to create their own policies, while also defining some aspects of the payment structure. For example, this settlement includes a timeline for payouts, which stipulates 18 months. The money is split due to factors like overall population; how many overdoes deaths the location had, as well as how many active use cases there are now; and how much of the medications made their way into the location.

What about once a state has the money? The settlement agreement goes on to stipulate a standard rate for dissemination past that point, with 15% of the payment going to a State Fund, 70% to an Abatement Accounts Fund, and the last 15% to a Subdivision Fund. Should a state want to change this policy, it can challenge it. While all this applies to the biggest lawsuit, many settlements have similar instructions.

Lawsuits over opioids
Lawsuits over opioids

The ’State Fund’ is money which is “awarded directly to the state, with final spending authority residing with legislative appropriation, attorneys general, the Department of Health, or the state agencies responsible for substance use services.” The Subdivision Fund (Local Share) is money paid “directly to participating political subdivisions, including participating cities and counties.” And the Abatement Fund is to “distribute funding across the state.”

Essentially, each state is tasked with coming up with “unique process and administrative structures for allocating funding across state and local entities, identifying abatement needs, obtaining input from the public and experts, providing guidance on priorities and spending activities, and promoting transparency around the use of funds.” And these processes can be used for any opioid lawsuit money from future or already on-going cases.

Opioid lawsuit money, and how it can be used

With the National Settlement as the example, there are some stipulations as to how the money can be used once a state takes it in. This is where we need to make sure that these avenues lead to something useful; and that they don’t get corrupted. Which means watching over the process from beginning to end.

The main point is that at least 70% of this money must be used for ‘opioid remediation efforts,’ which essentially means policies that target the problem and attempt to solve it. As per the wording of the agreement:

“Care, treatment, and other programs and expenditures (including reimbursement for past such programs or expenditures except where this Agreement restricts the use of funds solely to future Opioid Remediation) designed to (1) address the misuse and abuse of opioid products, (2) treat or mitigate opioid use or related disorders, or (3) mitigate other alleged effects of, including on those injured as a result of, the opioid epidemic.” It’s not, however, more specific than this, leaving the individual locations to figure out what these measures should be.

The money must also be used to set up Opioid Settlement Remediation Advisory Committees. These committees are designed to provide some guidance for the remediation process; they only deal with the 70% allocated to the Abatement Accounts Fund.

Lawsuit money allocation
Lawsuit money allocation

The problem is that such systems have shown to be corruptible time and time again. To combat this (in some form) there is a guideline set up to try to deter unrelated spending. It stipulates a requirement to report all use of the funding money, including unrelated costs like payments to lawyers, investigation costs, court fees, and administrative fees. However, a requirement to report, doesn’t mean the funds won’t still be used for these purposes. If reported unrelated costs are still covered, the simple action of reporting does not mean the funds won’t be misused. We’ll have to keep an eye out.

Moving forward

Will any of this work, or are we simply filling government coffers, to be blown like so much other government money? The way I see it, there are two ways to look at progress. The first is if those who have been hurt, get repaid for their losses. And the second is in how it works to change the current landscape. Considering most new regulation focuses on decriminalizing drugs and setting up safe use sites, instead of looking at alternatives like ketamine; its certainly hard to see a path for positive change. And realistically, so long as the doctor is the dealer, can we actually expect this problem to go away?

It’s best to remember that no state pursuing an opioid lawsuit has barred the sale of opioids in the state; even with lawsuit money rolling in. Not even one made a guideline for making them harder to get. Kind of a contradiction, and one that shouldn’t be ignored if people really expect that governments are working on their behalf.

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Myanmar, Thailand, and the Growth of Meth in Southeast Asia

Opioids are all over the US, cocaine is still heavily associated with Colombia, and Syria is spoken of as the new hub for captagon manufacture. Now, Myanmar joins the ranks, as one of the biggest producers of meth; with Thailand as one of the biggest buyers.

Myanmar and its history with drugs

Myanmar (Burma), is a country in the west part of mainland Southeast Asia. As of 2017 it had approximately 54 million inhabitants; and borders Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand. Like many other poor countries, it was taken over by a big world power, Britain, which held control from 1824-1948. Since then, there has been much civil war, and military dictatorship. This has overridden all attempts at democracy; including coup d’é·tat efforts whenever someone is elected democratically. This happened after the most recent 2021 elections. This environment has led to an instability that allows mass illicit drug trades to thrive.

This is not the first time Myanmar has been associated with major drug production. Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Myanmar made a name for itself as one of the biggest opium producers in the world. According to UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), most of the opium cultivation took place in Shan State, a large rural area on the East side of the country, which borders China, Laos, and Thailand. There are a number of armed groups (militias, rebels, and insurgents) within the area to protect the drug trade.

Myanmar held its place as a top opium producer for many decades; though things started to decline in the 1990’s. This was mainly due to an effort by the ruling military junta called the ‘Tatmadaw.’ The group employed tactics like aerial spraying to kill large crop farms, and other methods to exterminate opium farms.

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Why did it happen? The Myanmar government had not done much until that time, essentially turning a blind eye to the trade. And it might have continued that way, if not for international pressure from countries like China (which uniformly hates opium due to the opium wars), and the US (which we already know loves to get involved in other country’s issues, whether it has a reason or not.)

The US probably gave a reason, like fear of it being trafficked to the US. Which is funny considering the country subsequently started the much worse synthetic opioid epidemic, and continues to allow this through regulation. But then, it can’t collect tax money from an illegal industry, only from a legal one.

Crackdown on opium in Myanmar leads to rise of meth

The crackdown worked, as lots of crops were exterminated. But that also meant that a lot of people were left without a job, and a source of income. And many of those people were not happy to see their business disappear into thin air.

In an act reminiscent of Colombia using its established cannabis lines to get cocaine into America, in Myanmar, these opium pathways led to the production and trafficking of another drug, methamphetamine. Opium requires fields to grow poppies, which are harder to hide. Meth, on the other hand, is made in hidden labs, making it that much harder to root out. All that’s needed are some chemicals like pseudoephedrine, and the product is easily made without eyes on it.

As the Shan State is located right next to China, its easy to import the chemicals needed for production. Regardless of how much China might not like opium, the country is a major supplier for the raw materials of worse drugs like meth; which go to places like Myanmar and the US. And fentanyl, which gets produced in Mexico to be shipped up to the US.

How much meth is produced in the country? As always with illegal industries, we don’t know exact answers. All information comes from arrests and seizures, and those numbers are used to estimate total production amounts. For example, let’s assume that its assumed that only one in 10 shipments gets intercepted, and each shipment averages 10 kg. If there are five interceptions, it would be calculated as 50 shipments of 10 kg, or 500 kg total. How precise is this? Not very, but it still gives some idea. Best to remember there’s no official reporting for illegal industries.

Meth production in Myanmar

UNODC estimated in a 2019 report, that in Myanmar, the meth trade is worth approximately $61 billion yearly. In fact, meth offers the country larger profit margins than dealing in opium and heroin. As happens with such industries, organized criminal entities have gotten involved, and the purest forms of the drug get trafficked to higher-priced countries like Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Thailand, and its resulting meth issues

The rising production and industrialization of meth, has brought a lot of money into Myanmar. It’s also predictably causing meth issues in other countries, like the neighboring Thailand. While I often write about Thailand for its progressive cannabis policies, and eye on a magic mushrooms industry; the current meth situation is now a growing problem in the country. And in this case, it’s a drug without a ton of medical benefits, though they do exist. Something exemplified by a Schedule II placement in the US…(while cannabis is Schedule I.)

According to a VOA news report from January, 2023, since Myanmar started production, meth use in Thailand shot up 30% in the last year alone. This makes sense. The drug is now cheaper with production right next door. And as a neighboring country, Thailand is much easier to get it to, than say, America. A nationwide survey in Thailand, led by Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, recently turned back results that meth increased among 18-65 year olds. It said numbers went up from approximately 44,500 last year, to 57,900 this year. These numbers are low, says the head of the University’s Center for Addiction Studies, who explained that many won’t admit to use.

Other surveys by Thailand’s Office of the Narcotics Control Board, which uses much wider sampling, found that the number is actually in the hundreds of thousands. This makes more sense with a population of around 72 million; and the production country next door for easy access. In Thailand, the drug is sold as tablets, and called ‘yaba’ which translate to ‘crazy medicine.’

To give an idea on price changes and availability, it’s now possible in some parts of Thailand to buy a tablet for between $0.50-$0.90 in the low-grade market. This is approximately ¼ the price it used to be. The premium market also saw a shift, with top shelf crystal meth prices decreasing from between $50-60 to as low as $14-29.

In order to deal with this very quickly exploding problem, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul mentioned instituting a new policy in January, which was introduced February 2nd. If it passes, this law stipulates that a person in possession of even a single meth pill, can be prosecuted as a dealer. Current law dictates that possession of 15 tablets or less classifies the possessor as a user, which means they can accept treatment to avoid jail time. Dealers on the other hand, face up to 15 years in prison, with an extra five added on if they are found selling to minors.

Thailand might arrest for just one meth pill
Thailand might arrest for just one meth pill

No formal change was made yet. The new update must be approved by the cabinet before going into effect. As of February 22nd, no formal proposal from the Public Health Ministry was submit; at least according to a government spokesperson, via VOA. We’ll have to wait and see if this policy becomes a real thing. Regardless of legal actions, the country is already increasing border patrols on its borders with both Laos and Myanmar.

Does the hype match the danger?

For many drugs, the policies out there don’t match the danger level of the drugs in question. Think about how many people died in the cannabis trade, for a no-death toll drug. Perhaps this is the ultimate example of laws and the hype, not matching the actual danger level. This isn’t that different from what’s going on with Syria and the captagon trade. Captagon is an amphetamine-like drug, which I couldn’t find one death statistic for. So big trade or not, its not the most dangerous drug. Especially considering how much usage there is. Does this make it good? No. But does it make the response to it insane? Yes!

Yet, what was it reported that Jordan is doing? Allowing a shoot-to-kill policy for anyone trafficking it over the border. Which means there’s an automatic death/injury policy, for moving something which itself isn’t attached to a death toll. Ultimately, while drugs can be dangerous without a death toll, when looking at the moves of big countries, and the wars they wage on illegal drugs; much more damage is caused through that violence, than any drug that doesn’t kill anyone.

I don’t remember seeing anything about major health issues involved with captagon, insinuating this is about governments not wanting to lose profits to illegal markets, whether from manufacture in a home country, or import from another. On the other hand, sometimes its good to limit some drugs. The US would be smart to limit opioids, which it has never done. In the case of meth? You’ve certainly got a death and disability toll; though the jury’s out on whether the violent actions to prevent it, match the actual threat.

While drugs like cannabis and psychedelics have no real death threat, methamphetamine was responsible for anywhere up to 23,837 deaths in 2019 in the US, according to NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse). This number is actually for all psychostimulants, which include cocaine. And it doesn’t rule out that other drugs were also used. Another organization, NIHCM (National Institute for Health Care Management) put the number at 23,776 for 2020, which it separated from cocaine numbers; though the deaths could still involve other substances. So yes, meth causes death, meaning in this case, its not just hype, there’s actual danger involved.


It’s hard to say what will happen next with Myanmar and its new meth industry, or Thailand and its new meth problem. Perhaps one of the more interesting things to get out of all this, is the incredible need people seem to have to get high, almost regardless of substance. These trades exist because of how desperate people are for something that feels good. Doesn’t it make more sense to build better systems to make sure people of a country are treated well? Might make some of these drug issues…go away.

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DEA & FDA: The Confusion Over Legal Drugs VS Legal Products

This fight is ongoing. Are all cannabinoids that have to do with hemp, legal? Are hemp-derived cannabinoids that are completely or partially synthetic, legal? Are the cannabinoids that show up in nature, but are only used for production as synthetics, legal? And what about the products that are made from these compounds? Are they legal? There’s a mass amount of confusion on this, and on one end, a pretty discreet answer. So here we ago, when it comes to the DEA and FDA, what’s the difference between legal drugs, and legal products?

DEA, FDA, and USDA: what do these government agencies do?

For the most part, we have a generally good idea about this, but just to be clear, let’s quickly go over on a broad scale, the purpose (and power) of these government agencies. We’ll start with the DEA.

According to the agency, “The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States.”

On another hand, according to the FDA, “The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.”

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It goes on, “FDA also has responsibility for regulating the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products to protect the public health and to reduce tobacco use by minors.” And, “is responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medical products more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medical products and foods to maintain and improve their health.”

As the FDA controls the regulation of all tobacco products, as stated, this includes vapes. Vapes are currently regulated under tobacco law, meaning all usage of vapes (e-cigarettes) falls under FDA regulation as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

As far as the USDA, “We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. We have a vision to provide economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation’s natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.”

These three agencies all play a role with cannabis in some way. The USDA regulates industrial hemp cultivation; the DEA regulates the legality of drug compounds; and the FDA regulates cannabis in products like foods, cosmetics, medicines, and supplements. These designations are important when looking at the controversy over the cannabinoid industry (and the cannabis industry as a whole), and the idea of legal drugs vs legal products.

The part of the USDA

There is a huge argument right now over which cannabis compounds are legal, and which products are legal; and these two questions are fundamentally different, because they’re governed by different agencies. So, to get an idea how it works with cannabis, let’s go over the breakdown between the legality of one vs the other.

To start with, the USDA’s 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. And set a definition for ‘hemp’, which is the basis for a huge, and ongoing, argument, over exactly what this refers to; particularly in the case of wholly synthetic, or partially synthetic compounds. The ambiguity is partly related to the US not having a general definition for ‘natural’, meaning, there are no definitions for other thing like ‘naturally-derived’ either. Such a term is often used to greenwash products (make them sound more natural than they are), which has led to multiple lawsuits.

Natural and naturally-derived

There is more specific regulation on this front in terms of food, however, with organic laws setting particular standards. And with organizations like the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) which set standards for cosmetics and food. Apart from offering the hemp definition that causes so many problems (on one front), the USDA is less involved in the rest of the argument.

Legal cannabis drugs vs legal cannabis products, which is DEA and which is FDA?

USDA aside, the DEA regulates drugs on behalf of the Department of Justice. It holds drug scheduling lists that determine the legality and uses of a drug on a federal level. Schedule I is for 100% illegal drugs with no accepted medical use, a high risk of danger, and a high risk of addiction. These drugs are illegal for any resident to possess, use, cultivate, sell, transport, traffic, or do anything else with. Cannabis is one of these drugs. However, recently, plants with no more than .3% THC were legalized by the most recent farm bill, for industrial use; by moving regulation for cultivation and production (only) to the USDA.

When we want to know if a drug is legal in general, we look to the DEA. And that’s why the agency has fielded inquires, like from the Alabama Board of Pharmacy about delta-8, and more recently, by attorney Rod Kight in terms of two synthetic cannabinoids: Delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO. In both cases, it stipulated they’re illegal. These questions are about overall legality, like, can I have it at all as a legal compound, or will simply having it be a federal offense. But that’s where DEA control ends.

The problem with the current debate, is that its essentially over products, rather than standard legality. Whether the DEA says the compounds are legal or not, has 100% no bearing on whether they’re legal to use in products. And that’s because the FDA (NOT the DEA) overseas all uses of cannabis in anything related to medical, supplements, cosmetics, smoking, and food products.

This means anything dealing with cannabis in vapes, is illegal. As is every other kind of cannabis product: oils and tinctures (both supplements, or food), creams, patches, and makeup (cosmetics, or medicine), pills, and treatments of any kind (medicine or supplements). They’re all uniformly illegal; because the FDA never made them legal.

What does the FDA permit? “With the exception of Epidiolex, Marinol, and Syndros, no product containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds (either plant-based or synthetic) has been approved as safe and effective for use in any patient population, whether pediatric or adult.”

FDA allows legal cannabis pharmaceutical products
FDA allows legal cannabis pharmaceutical products

If it needs to be stated more clearly, this ends the question of whether any cannabis product is legal on a federal level. And the answer is no. Once again, this is unrelated to whether the DEA classifies something as illegal or not. In fact, it should be remembered that the DEA has cannabis in Schedule I, yet the FDA approved Epidiolex, Marinol, and Syndros. Which means an illegal drug can still be used in legal products, should the FDA pass them. And a legal drug, is still illegal in products, if the FDA doesn’t make an allowance.

Why do people try to use DEA answers to promote product legality?

Hard for me to say, but I have my theories. One of them is simply confusion. I fully admit I, myself, was quite entangled in the ‘synthetic or not’ aspect of the argument for a long time. And that still matters in terms of legal drugs, but it doesn’t affect legal products. At least not in current circumstances. When an industry has regulation through different government bodies for the same topic, it can get confusing. And for many, it might seem like the DEA holds the answers to issues of product legality.

The other possibility is more a manipulation issue. The ideas generally focused on when speaking of the debate on hemp-derived cannabinoids, are whether they cross the .3% THC level at any point in processing, and whether they’re synthetic to some degree and what that means. That’s because these things can be argued. What is less arguable, is that the agency that allows legal products, never changed its stance. If industry promoters and vendors had the public focus on this, their products would be seen as illegal with no recourse. If response letters from the FDA were published, there wouldn’t be a question.

This is similar to how I believe the government uses methods of subterfuge to keep American attention off certain topics. Whether the cannabinoid industry is dirty or not, it simply doesn’t come with any real death toll that can be attributed to anything but additives. As in, not any of the cannabinoids, synthetic or not, have caused an issue to any real degree. On the other hand, while the government talks of them like they’re a massive threat to humanity, it continues to push opioids through regulation, as they now kill close to 100 thousand people a year.

Same concept. By focusing on the DEA, and whether a drug is legal overall, takes attention away from the fact that the FDA regulates products, and the DEA has nothing to do with this. The cannabinoid products industry isn’t going to focus on the legal aspect that renders it completely illegal. It’s going to focus on the debatable part, and sell it products based on the argument therein.

Final thoughts

I really don’t care if the products market continues. I mean, it’s a bit gross, with trademark violations, fake labs, mislabeled products, and no way to know what’s added in. But legal markets tend to have these issues too. And realistically, they ain’t killing anyone. My argument is simply about understanding the legal landscape, and not falling victim to subterfuge marketing moves when it comes to this understanding. But am I parading around for the end of cannabinoids? No. And realistically, illegal or not, there seem to be few, if any, repercussions involved; likely because the US can’t fight another losing drug war.

Issues with mislabeled cannabis products
Issues with mislabeled cannabis products

I’d sure love if everyone had access to the real plant (which seems to lower use of synthetics anyway), but I also know people like to get high and will try what’s available. And if its not going to cause damage, or at least, not in remotely the same ballpark as other drugs like medically approved opioids and benzodiazepines, and illegal ones like meth; it kind of seems like the FDA should suck it up, and allow it to happen. Although, in the world of reality, the market continues regardless.

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