As early as September, many research chemicals may become Schedule I drugs, bringing them from the legal gray area they currently reside in to an immediately illegal one. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is urging Congress to pass the “Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2016” and specifically calls out synthetic THC analogs and fentanyl-like research chemicals.
According to a Syracuse news outlet, Senator Schumer held a news conference on the steps of the county courthouse. With him were Police Chief Deputy Joseph Ciciarelli of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Onondaga County Health Department Commissioner Indu Gupta and others.
The U.S. Senator tells the press and public “These dangerous, often deadly substances, leave our emergency rooms in Syracuse and Upstate New York bulging with stupefied users with zombie-like symptoms and this will only continue if Congress doesn’t act quickly.”
In the Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2016, mainly cannabinoids are mentioned. Opioids and psychedelecs too, but it’s clear what type of drug is being targeted the most.
The cannabinoids: JWH–251, JWH–073, JWH–302, 5F–APICA, 5F–PB–22, AB–PINACA, MN–24, THJ–2201, ADBICA, 5F–AMB, and MACHMINACA. Interestingly, MDMB-FUBINACA didn’t make this list despite having at least 1,000 hospitalizations and more 40 deaths directly linked to it.
The opioids: Butyryl fentanyl, beta-Hydroxythiofentanyl, and Acetyl fentanyl.
The other: α-naphyrone, 5–APDB, 6–APDB, MDAI, 5–IAI, bromo-dragonfly, DOC, and MEM.
From what’s seen, it looks like the majority of the drugs queued for scheduling are ones that most of the drug community doesn’t use or already have accepted as too toxic for human use. Some of these haven’t even been readily available for sale in almost a year. Some, like THJ-2201 & AB-PINACA are already Schedule I as of January 2015.
Schumer said that he chose Syracuse as a platform for the bill because the synthetic drug usage hit Syracuse harder than any other Upstate community. According to his statement, Upstate New York’s Poison Control Center reported a major increase in synthetic cannabinoid hospitalizations between 2014 and 2015. A total of 509 cases have been reported in 2015.
The bill won’t only add some research chemicals to the DEA’s scheduling but it will also give law enforcement agencies more power to stop those who are producing the drugs.
For those who are unaware, many of the drugs the bill refers to are research chemicals that are technically legal in the United States, provided that they are not intended for human consumption. For instance, 5F–AMB, which the bill will be adding to Schedule I, is a synthetic cannabinoid that is designed to somewhat mimic the effects of THC. 5F-AMB (methyl 2-(1-(5-fluoropentyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamido)-3-methylbutanoate) is a potent CB1 agonist at KI = around 0.7 nM vs. THC’s Ki=10nM. However, since the drug is structurally different than THC, it isn’t directly illegal in the United States. As a “research chemical,” it is actually legal for laboratory and research purposes. You may remember the K2 incidents that occurred several years back – around the time that research chemicals started becoming a common occurrence. This is a similar situation (and drug).
Currently, the United States does have a “catch-all” type of law to prevent the use of unscheduled drugs but it’s fairly vague and not equipped for the modern world’s chemicals. The law, dubbed “The Federal Analogue Act” (21 U.S.C. § 813) allows any chemical with a structure that’s “substantially similar” to a controlled substance may be treated as such. But this is only the case if the drug was intended for human consumption. Since most “legal” sellers of research chemicals clearly state that the chemicals are not for human consumption, the analog law is basically worthless.
This law would change some of the chemicals sold but of current US-based RC vendors, most of these drugs aren’t sold in the first place so little change will come. Syracuse’s hospitals may clear up though; these drugs aren’t safe without prior knowledge. Some of them are downright toxic or lethal and some are dangerous if used in doses equivalent to their non-RC counterparts.