Alabama like most states has banned the sale and use of designer drugs sold as “bath salts”, “plant food”, “incense”, and other products, and called “Ivory Wave”, “Red Dove”, and “legal marijuana”. The Alabama law prohibits the same substances as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
The chemical basis for the effect of most of the new crop of “legal marijuana” drugs is that they mimic the effect on cannabinoid receptors that marijuana does. The body makes its own pain reducing chemicals called endocannabinoids so that any law banning any substance that binds to a cannabinoid receptor in the human body is useless unless one plans to arrest the entire populace of the country.
A team of scientists reported the development of a new set of tests that can detect the source and ultimately the manufacturer of the new crop of designer drugs at the 242nd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
The new method uses isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) to identify the source. The source can be controlled by preventing importation from the country of origin. The manufacture of this type of substance in home labs is prohibitive because the process to develop this type of drug is so sophisticated and expensive that it is not reasonable to expect a home scale production like crystal meth.
The active compound in most of the new crop of designer drugs is mephedrone, which is a synthetic compound, structurally related to methcathinone, which is found in Khat plant.
The researchers have also developed the first chemical test for mephedrone that can be used in most police crime labs.
Oliver Sutcliffe, Ph.D. and colleagues at the University of Strathclyde and the James Hutton Institute in the U.K. and Robert Lantz, Ph.D., from the Rocky Mountain Instrumental Laboratories are responsible for these developments.
The increase in the global abuse of synthetic cathinones has given rise to significant legal and analytical challenges in their identification and quantification – thus rapid methods of testing (especially in the field) are urgently required. This paper presents synthesis; characterisation; validated presumptive and quantitative methods for these substances (both in pure and adulterated samples) and a rapid, novel NMR screening technique for street samples containing components which cannot normally be detected using standard chromatographic methods.
There is no end to human ingenuity. Unfortunately, this phrase even provides to be true when it comes to methods and means of getting high. Synthetic Cannabinoids, such as JWH-018 which is only one of many such substances (which is currently marketed as K2), and other substances such as Methylone (MDPV) and Mephedrone (which is currently marketed as “Bath Salts” or “Plant Food” respectively) present unique analytical chemistry challenges from a chromatographic point-of-view. Related challenges in terms of quantitation of these substances still exist. In the rush to make illegal and prosecute the possession and use of these substances, errors related the qualitative and quantitative reporting of these compounds can occur. This presentation will examine these challenges that exist and what lies ahead.
The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site on August 30, 2011.