Research chemicals or designer drugs are new synthetic substances that mimic existing drugs. Structurally they are almost identical to the original drug but just different enough to be considered new. Which is why these substances are not automatically illegal.
In fact, it takes at least two years before a new substance has been identified by the authorities and a procedure can be started to place it on the list of Schedule I drugs.
That’s why developing these research chemicals pays off for certain people; they can do it without immediate risk of prosecution. Each year, over 50 new synthetics are introduced.
Smartshops and synthetic substances
The first smartshops that arose in the 90s owed their existence to synthetic drugs. Twenty years ago, a lot of substances such as 2C-B and MDA were not classified as drugs yet.
Back then, smartshops were the primary points of purchase for these relatively unknown chemical drugs. A few years later, most synthetic substances were gone from the store shelves and placed on the list of Schedule I drugs. At the same time it became illegal to sell new synthetic substances for consumption.
People tried to bypass this law by offering certain research chemicals as something else, for example: an air freshener, bath salts or plant food. One such product is Explosion. It had a solution that smelled like vanilla and was supposedly an air freshener, but it contained methylone.
Methylone has an effect that's very similar to MDMA, but with a shorter duration. The Dutch Food Safety Authority ensured this substance was treated as a medicine, making a sale without prescription illegal. This is a faster and easier procedure than adding a substance to the list of Schedule I drugs.
Safety not guaranteed
Even though it's now illegal, some smartshops still offer these synthetic products. These are sold with a label that says it's 'not for human consumption'.
The VLOS (Dutch Association of Smartshops) is very unhappy with this. Research chemicals sold in smartshops do not contain any usage/dosage instruction, leaving you completely in the dark.
What's more, people could assume that products purchased in a store are safe. However the safety of research chemicals is even less guaranteed than that of well-known drugs.
Smartshops that nevertheless sell these substances taint the image of their industry and could even endanger the continued existence of smartshops.
Azarius does not support the sale of research chemicals. However, we did recently add a new encyclopedia article on this subject. As always, Azarius supports good information to reduce the risks of experimenting with drugs.
Stay safe guys!