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 compounds that are chemically synthesized and intended to mimic existing illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or methamphetamine.
Some of the most popular designer drugs are hallucinogens such as NBOMes, stimulants such as bath salts (named for their resemblance to Epsom salts) and spice--synthetic cannabinoids that mimic marijuana.
K2 and Spice refer to a new type of designer drug of abuse currently in widespread use in the U.
We're waiting to see if some of these newer designer drugs are what's in what these kids are taking,'' said Dr.
An inquest heard a postmortem examination found Paul had the designer drug Bath Salts in his blood stream.
The sophistication of the designer drug industry has grown over the past 2 years, and such drugs are "an emerging problem," said Ms.
Accordingly, preferring charges under this article is encouraged when servicemembers use or possess designer drugs in violation of a local command policy or service regulation and when the chemical composition of the designer drug is not listed in the CSA.
Mephedrone could be banned by April 16 if Parliament approves a draft order presented by the Home Secretary calling for a ban on the designer drug and similar derivatives.
Although alcohol is the drug that college students use most frequently and in greatest quantity, the designer drug ecstasy has generated both curiosity and concern in recent years.
Chambers, who twice failed to break through into gridiron during his two-year ban for taking a banned designer drug, experienced his first taste of rugby league in a specially-arranged reserve-grade friendly against York eight days ago.
A FACTORY set up to produce a dangerous designer drug never before found in the North East was uncovered by police raiding an apartment block overlooking the River Tyne.