designer drug

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designer drug,

chemical substance synthesized in a laboratory that is intended to have effects similar to those of a drug that is a controlled substance, such as methamphetamine, marijuana, LSD, or an anabolic steroid, but not be illegal or detectable by drug tests as a result of differences in its chemical composition. Designer drugs are typically produced by chemical laboratories that intentionally modify the molecular structure of known controlled substances in order to circumvent the law, but producers of such drugs also search through the scientific literature to identify reports of potentially useful compounds. Other designer drugs are not chemically similar to a controlled substance but nonetheless produce similar effects. Designer drugs are typically produced by trained chemists in professional-quality laboratory and manufacturing facilities, are usually transported using major international delivery services, and may be sold via a website, in legal establishments under variety of names, or illicitly. Such drugs are often more dangerous than the controlled substances they are intended to replace; creators of such drugs may modify the molecular structure of the compounds they produce in order to increase the potency and addictiveness of the resulting drug. Because toxicology tests are not designed to recognize an unknown substance that has chemical differences from controlled substances, it can be difficult to identify a drug and appropriately treat a patient for an overdose. Designer drugs are often misleadingly identified and packaged as research chemicals, bath salts, or plant food, and specifically labeled as not for human consumption, in an attempt to circumvent drug laws.

Although a number of synthetic drugs with psychoactive properties similar to controlled substances were produced earlier in the 20th cent., designer drugs became significantly more common in the 1980s. Early designer drugs were based on PCP, fentanyl, meperidine, and amphetamine and methamphetamine. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), also known as ecstacy or molly, which has properties similar amphetamine and mescaline, was a designer drug that became prominent in the 1980s, though its synthesis occurred earlier and clandestine production of the drug began in the 1970s.

In more recent years, many designer drugs have been synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, and hallucinogens. Cannabinoids mimic the effects of THC, the main psychoactive component of marijuanamarijuana
or marihuana,
drug obtained from the flowering tops, stems, and leaves of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa (see hemp) or C. indica; the latter species can withstand colder climates.
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 and other forms of cannabis, and have been sold as spice, incense, potpourri, K2, and under other names. Cannabinoids are typically sold added to a dried herb to create "synthetic marijuana," which can be smoked, or as a liquid for use in an e-cigarette. Cathinone is found in khat (see staff treestaff tree,
common name for some temperate members of the Celastraceae, a family of trees and shrubs (many of them climbing forms), widely distributed except in polar regions.
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), and synthetic cathinones, such as MDPV, mephedrone, methylone, and alpha-PVP, have effects that are similar to those of cocaine or methamphetamine. They have been sold as bath salts, plant food, and under other names. NBOMes, substances that are chemically similar to mescaline (the active ingredient in peyotepeyote
, spineless cactus (Lophophora williamsii), ingested by indigenous people in Mexico and the United States to produce visions. The plant is native to the SW United States, particularly S Texas, and Mexico, where it grows in dry soil.
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), have been sold as N-Bomb, LSD (which is much less potent), and under other names.

In an attempt to ban unknown compounds that are similar to controlled substances in their effects and might otherwise be sold as legal alternatives to controlled substances, the United States enacted the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act in 1986. Under the law, it is illegal to manufacture and sell a substance if it is substantially chemically similar to an existing controlled substance and if its effects in a user are similar to or intended to be similar to that controlled substance. The law, which has been criticized as unconstitutionally vague, has not stemmed the development of designer drugs. Producers of designer drugs, who are often overseas in China, India, and Pakistan, can reformulate a chemical before it has been declared illegal, allowing their production facilities to switch to a new chemical formulation as soon as the earlier formulation is outlawed.

References in periodicals archive ?
Designer drugs are produced by combining "different chemical components in an artisanal procedure, completely lacking safety regarding manipulation [of substances].
Sauve, medical director of TMS Neuro-Health Centers of Richmond and Charlottesville, both in Virginia, said designer drugs have grown in popularity in recent years because they are perceived as legal alternatives to illicit substances.
The evolving nature of designer drugs is a particularly challenging issue for clinical and forensic laboratorians attempting to detect drug abuse.
To improve such testing, Marilyn Huestis, a forensic toxicologist at NIDA, wants to identify the breakdown products of spice and other designer drugs.
The majority of these designer drugs are derived from the parent compound cathinone, the active ingredient of the plant khat (Catha edulis).
Schwartz has been involved in the public health investigation of two Spice outbreaks and numerous cases of toxicity associated with Spice use since the designer drug epidemic began in 2009-2010.
Beyond THC: the new generation of cannabinoid designer drugs.
Since routine immunoassay drug-screening methods are unable to detect most of the hundreds of individual designer drugs that have been identified, we are working with Agilent to develop advanced analytical methods to screen and confirm the presence of such drugs in both ante- and post-mortem specimens," said Dr.
This road trip suddenly takes a turn for the worse when Carol's boyfriend begins using a designer drug known as Bath Salts.
In 2010, poison control centers responded to roughly 3,200 calls related to designer drugs, according to the DEA.
The designer drugs, such as Benzo Fury, which is DRUG J Alex thought to have killed 19-year-old Alex, are modified versions of illegal substances that manage to bypass drug laws.
3) Military commanders are committed to combating this craze and have focused on this problem by creating policies, campaigns and crime-tip websites to deter the use of designer drugs.