The Guardian's Mike Power investigated the "legal highs" industry and found a pretty disturbing world where you can get kilos of LSD, cannabis and MDMA replacement couriered to you for a pittance. But unlike the drugs they replace, these ones are potentially lethal, and sold interchangeably to unsuspecting neuronauts and punters.

26 Responses to “Bath salts in Britain”

  1. B E Pratt says:

    It took me the longest damn time to realize that ‘bath salts’ (drugs) were not really actual bath salts. I just could not figure out why someone would even think of ingesting something meant to go in your bathtub in the first place.

    • Neural Kernel says:

       I’m not a medical professional, but I believe Epsom Salts are useable as a laxative if ingested orally, along with their topical use for muscle pain.

      • billstewart says:

        That’s correct.  But you take them in teaspoon quantities for internal use, or use cupfuls as bath salts.  (5ml vs. N*250ml, for you metric folks.) 

        Similarly, mineral oil is used in teaspoon quantities as a laxative, slightly larger quantities as a wood sealer, or liters to gallons if you’re cooling electronics with them (my college roommate got strange looks from the drugstore people when he bought gallons of the stuff to build ham radio equipment, back in the vacuum-tube days.)

        And lavender can be ingested in tea or liqueur, or you can put it in your bath, but the volume ratios aren’t as extreme.

      • Florian Bösch says:

        Sodium sulfate decahydrate is also a fairly good laxative. It’s dissolved in water in a hypertonic solution, it’s gastly bitter. Makes the gut-muscles work overtime and sucks water out of the body on the way trough. Glorious shits thereafter until you shit clear water smelling like ceder.

  2. Shouldn’t we quit calling them ‘bath salts’ already?  Research chemicals is a much better term.

  3. tré says:

    Oh, man, the lethal stuff is legal but the safer (not necessarily “safe”) stuff is prohibited? That sounds like a major problem. I’m sure people are soon to be up in arms about it and a sensible solution will be found quickly.

    • Ygret says:

      This just points out the idiocy of “illegal” drugs.  There are always going to be things people are willing to put in their bodies to get high, not least of which is the incredible amount of legal drugs available.  Its about time we stopped the war on certain classes of people who do certain classes of drugs once and for all: it is collapsing of its own contradictions, illogic and insanity.  But the people who make their money from this insane war are dug-in and will fight to the end.

      • Ray Perkins says:

        With a majority of people (both US and Canada) thinking pot should be legal, what is wrong with holding a referendum? Well, except Wiki tells me you can’t do that in the US at the federal level. Shouldn’t a democracy be responsible to the wishes of the majority? Or do our elected leaders apparently know better than us?

  4. brainflakes says:

    I think you’ll find in the UK it’s called “plant food”

  5. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    Does the UK have an, er, analog to the US ‘Analog Act’(TL;DR: If we haven’t banned it yet; but it looks like something we have banned, it is hereby banned.)?

    • Beanolini says:

      Sort of. In 1977, the Misuse of Drugs Act was modified to include all N-alkyl tryptamines, N-alkyl ring-hydroxy tryptamines, and most phenethylamine derivatives. This is regardless of whether they have ever been found ‘in the wild’, or are actually psychoactive. 

      It was later modified again (1998, I think) to catch all the compounds from PiHKAL that weren’t covered, despite some of these being described as ‘inactive’ in the book.

      This meant that MDMA was illegal in the UK long before it became popular, and long before it was banned in many other countries.

  6. agonist says:

    Whenever I hear about kids taking some low-rent, dangerous substance like bath salts or sativa or whatever cheap high is available, I feel bad for them that they don’t have access to simple, safe, and effective cannabis.

  7. SedanChair says:

    Like I give a shit

  8. billstewart says:

    As a libertarian, I find this market failure really annoying.  Prohibition leads to black market drugs that are impure and distributed by criminals, because it makes it difficult to maintain purity standards, test for safety, or resolve conflicts peacefully, while legal pharmaceuticals and other chemicals are generally high quality, and tested for safety and effectiveness.  But by banning the competition and manufacturing, and by imposing moving-target prohibitions on newer drugs, the UK and other countries are pushing the market for new legal drugs into the black-market channels, where consumers are used to buying from dodgy dealers selling products of random content and purity that generally haven’t been around long enough to be tested, and pushing the sources to China where product safety and purity are already dodgy.  (The article also said that 80% of people who’ve consumed “random white powder” have done so when already high, which is just a spectacularly bad idea.)

    Fortunately there have been some trends in the opposite direction, at least in the US.  Medical marijuana legalization has pushed the quality of semi-legal and illegal marijuana much higher, and harm reduction groups like DanceSafe and its successors have been doing product testing at raves and similar events (though that’s obviously more effective for well-known drugs like Ecstasy with commonly-used fake substitutes like meth than for Random-New-Research-Chemical-Of-The-Month.)

  9. daemonsquire says:

    Parallel developments in the pharmaceutical industry, comparing Beschizza’s summary of the recent Wired story about the resumption of medical testing with psychedelics (“Translation: drug companies need new products, badly.”), and the quote in the above linked Guardian story, ”Of the 73 new drugs in 2012, more than 50 were cannabinoid receptor agonists”.

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