Legal Research Chemical Vendor
Our research chemicals are mostly structural or functional analog of a controlled substance that has been designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug, while avoiding classification as illegal and/or detection in standard drug tests. Research chemicals include psychoactive substances as well as analogs of performance-enhancing drugs. Some of these were originally synthesized by academic or industrial researchers in an effort to discover more potent derivatives with fewer side effects and were later co-opted for recreational use. Other research chemicals were prepared for the first time in clandestine laboratories. Because the efficacy and safety of these substances have not been thoroughly evaluated in animal and human trials, the use of some of these drugs may result in unexpected side effects.
The development of designer drugs may be considered a subfield of drug design. The exploration of modifications to known active drugs—such as their structural analogues, stereoisomers, and derivatives—yields drugs that may differ significantly in effects from their “parent” drug (e.g., showing increased potency, or decreased side effects). In some instances, designer drugs have similar effects to other known drugs, but have completely dissimilar chemical structures (e.g. JWH-018 vs THC). Despite being a very broad term, applicable to almost every synthetic drug, it is often used to connote synthetic recreational drugs, sometimes even those which have not been designed at all (e.g. LSD, the psychedelic side effects of which were discovered unintentionally).
In some jurisdictions, drugs that are highly similar in structure to a prohibited drug are illegal to trade regardless of that drug’s legal status. In other jurisdictions, their trade is a legal grey area, making them grey market goods. Some jurisdictions may have analogue laws which ban drugs similar in chemical structure to other prohibited drugs, while some designer drugs may be prohibited irrespective of the legal status of structurally similar drugs; in both cases, their trade may take place discretely.
While through recent history most designer drugs had been either opioids, hallucinogens, or anabolic steroids, the range of possible compounds is limited only by the scientific and patent literature, and recent years have been characterised by a broadening of the range of compounds sold as designer drugs. These have included a wide variety of designer stimulants such as geranamine, mephedrone, MDPV and desoxypipradrol, several designer sedatives such as methylmethaqualone and premazepam, and designer analogues of sildenafil (Viagra), which have been reported as active compounds in “herbal” aphrodisiac products. Designer cannabinoids are another recent development, with two compounds JWH-018 and (C8)-CP 47,497 initially found in December 2008 as active components of “herbal smoking blends” sold as legal alternatives to marijuana. Subsequently, a growing range of synthetic cannabinoid agonists have continued to appear, including by 2010, novel compounds such as RCS-4, RCS-8, and AB-001, which had never been reported in the literature, and appear to have been invented by designer drug manufacturers themselves. Another novel development is the use of research ligands for cosmetic rather than strictly recreational purposes, such as grey-market internet sales of the non-approved alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone tanning drugs known as melanotan peptides.
…what is new is the wide range of substances now being explored, the aggressive marketing of products that have been intentionally mislabelled, the growing use of the internet, and the speed at which the market reacts to control measures.— EMCDDA director Wolfgang Goetz (November 2009).
Mephedrone and the cathinones marked somewhat of a turning point for designer drugs, turning them from little known, ineffective substances sold in head shops to powerful substances able to compete with classical drugs on the black market. Mephedrone especially experienced a somewhat meteoric rise in popularity in 2009 and the resulting media panic resulted in its prohibition in multiple countries. Following this there was a considerable emergence of other cathinones which attempted to mimic the effects of mephedrone, and with a newly attracted customer base, plenty of money to drive innovation.
Subsequently, the market rapidly expanded, with more and more substances being detected every year. These have not been limited to cathinones, with 35% being cannabinoids and the rest being composed of stimulants, benzodiazepines, psychedelics, dissociatives and to a lesser extent, every other class of drugs, even ibogoids and nootropics. As of 2017, the largest group of drugs is synthetic cannabinoids, with 169 different synthetic cannabinoids reported by December 2016.
In the UK to avoid being controlled by the Medicines Act, designer drugs such as mephedrone have been described as “plant food,” despite the compounds having no history of being used for these purposes.
In the USA, similar descriptions (“bath salts“ is the most common) have been used to describe mephedrone as well as methylone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Combined with labeling that they are “not for human consumption,” these descriptions are an attempt to skirt the Federal Analog Act which forbids drugs that are “substantially similar” to already classified drugs from being sold for human use.
Synthetic cannabinoids are known under a variety of names including K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, Zohai, Banana Cream Nuke, Krypton, and Lava Red. They are often called “synthetic marijuana,” “herbal incense,” or “herbal smoking blends” and often labeled “not for human consumption.”