Bath salts. Research chemicals. New psychoactive substances. The classifications are varied, but all of these names label one thing—the mind-altering substances that fit into the legally grey area of chemical analogues. Be the substances alterations of well-known drugs, or something new entirely, research chemicals offer the population quasi-legal alternatives to illicit narcotics.
And they’re here to stay.
However, though their longevity is not in doubt, their legality is; at least in the United Kingdom. During the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament (which takes place tomorrow), the Queen summarizes the upcoming plans of the government, and because this speech ushers in a new government, it is of particular importance this year.
While many of the items of the speech are of little consequence to the average American, the speech will allegedly include a blanket ban upon legal highs, effectively banning all grey market substances within the UK. The wisdom of escalating the war on drugs despite mounting evidence against prohibition’s effectiveness is questionable, but that’s neither here nor there.
The ban is a bold new step, one similar to the Irish measure that hilariously backfired into a day of lawless, drug-fueled hedonism a few months back. While the United States has not announced any federal plans to crack down upon research chemicals, individual states have banned various specific compounds over the years.
The main problem with research chemicals (besides abuse) lies in the lack of information surrounding the substances. Human test subjects are nonexistent, and animal studies are extremely rare, if they exist at all. We’ve mentioned the dangers of PMMA and 25i-NBOMe before, but those are only two of a hypothetically infinite number of drugs. Yes, some of these legal highs may very well end up being safer than the classical alternatives, but there’s simply not enough information out there to be sure.
It’s an extension of the drug war, where the enemy is misinformation and deception, and these enemies lead to people getting hurt. The potential UK ban is indicative of an ideology of suppression, stifling legality instead of addressing the problem and educating the population. At Dance Music Northwest, we’d like to hope that people won’t take drugs, but we acknowledge that expecting abstinence is simply unrealistic. If banning drugs hasn’t worked yet, does the UK really think that this move will help?
For their sake, we certainly hope so.
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