Drug table - final draft Legal Drugs First published: The Face, October 1992 (c) Peter McDermott firstname.lastname@example.org Terry Southern: (On arriving at William Burroughs apartment with a bag of pharmaceutical samples.) Well, Doctor, I suppose we’re in for another damnable stint of trial-and-error. Burroughs: We’ll not go the trial-and-error route on these premises. The human species has three innate drives — we need sustainance, shelter and species reproduction. In his book, Intoxication, Californian psychopharmacologist Ronald Siegel claims humans may have a fourth primary instinct — we need to get high, to change the way that we feel by artificial means. There is good evidence in support of his claim. All human societies have used some form of intoxicanting drug. The exception was eskimoes, probably because nothing grows in polar regions. Despite many attempts to link drug use with social deprivation, the association is spurious. It’s just that the poor get caught more often. Look at Elvis, he had everything that a man could desire, looks, talent, wealth - but after he’d eaten all the cheeseburgers he could swallow, when he got bored chasing young girls in white panties, how did he spend his time? With the contents of Dr. Nick’s Gladstone Bag. Recreational drug use is bigger today than it was in the sixties, but enthusiasm for Ecstasy may be starting to wane. People have begun to notice that the initial pleasure can give way to spiritual and psychological disruption. Fear about the impact of Ecstasy on health is growing. Some twenty people have died after taking E in the UK in the last two years. Other problems associated with the drug are still emerging. Doctors have discovered an association between Ecstasy use and disturbance in Liver function. Other experts fear for the future — MDMA damages nerve terminals in rats and monkeys and there is a strong possibility that it causes similar damage in humans. Personally, I’m bored with feeling so nice every Saturday night. As a society, our attitude to intoxication is based on a double standard. Certain intoxicants are culturally approved, and therefore acceptable. Alcohol and tobacco inflict great harm on individual health and have a high social cost. Yet the dealers are respected members of the community. Cannabis dealers, on the other hand, make far less money but can end up in prison. So why are some drugs legal and others not? If it isn’t because of the harm that drugs cause, could it be because we disapprove of the very act of becoming intoxicated? In order to save law abiding Face readers from a possible prison sentence, I decide to investigate some of the legal highs that are available. There might well be all kinds of exotic drugs as yet undiscovered and uncontrolled. If I could just discover one, and come up with a catchy marketing phrase like ‘Turn on, Tune in, Drop Out’ I might well become the next Timothy Leary. My search began after reading a piece in the Daily Sport. Following an article in which several drugs experts warn that dog worming tablets and water oxygenating pills are presently being passed off as Ecstasy, there was a half-page advertisement. “NEW LEGAL BUZZ TAKES THE COUNTRY’S RAVES BY STORM. Europe’s top glamour model launches safe rave tabs.” Safe rave tabs — could this be what I’m looking for?. “Trine Micheson, ex-Miss Denmark and currently Europe’s top glamour model, is set to smash the drug culture that is destroying so many young lives today.” “Lives have been wrecked by evil designer drugs such as Ecstasy, but at last a healthy, legal alternative with the same buzz is now available in raves up and down the country. Incredibly, these little pills of pleasure are totally legal and actually good for you.” Trine’s testimonial was highly persuasive. “Make no mistake, Love Hearts have kick. The rush comes on in five minutes, lasts for an hour, and your buzzin’ and still going for hours.” The effects of a drug are dependent upon the relationship of three factors — the pharmacological properties of the drug, the mental set of the drug user and the setting in which the drug is taken. In order to give Love Hearts a fair trial, I decided I should try them at a rave. Although the tabloid press continuously goes on about how drug dealers are unscrupulous scum, I dismissed their claims. The drug dealers I’ve met are just people doing a tedious job for little reward. So I had always taken it with a pinch of salt until now. Ugh! Still, the price was right. As the advert said, “The average price of a tab of Ecstasy is £15.00 — yet “Love Hearts” cost only £4.95 for a packet of three — just one tenth of the designer drug equivalent.” By Saturday night, I had grown somewhat wary about the ex-Miss Denmark’s claims. I was even starting to wonder if she really was Europe’s top glamour model. The pink, heart-shaped pills came in foil packets that listed the ingredients. Nicotinic acid, Cellulose, Lucerne, Yellow Dock, Plantain, Lapacoho, Guarana, Caffeine, Cornsilk, Cloves. The active ingredients were 50 mg of Caffeine and 300 mg of Nicotinic acid (Vitamin B3). Perhaps they might be good for you after all? I began asking people if they knew anything about them. One girl told me that though she had never taken them herself, her friend had tried them and turned bright orange. Later, I met three teenage lads from Blackburn, Colin, Neil and Stephen. They had each taken three that night. They had bought them in the local sex shop in the hope of saving the money they would normally spend on ‘E’. So what were they like? They looked a bit sheepish as they answered. “They come on in a kind of rush, then you like, glow all over. A glow all over your body — like central heating for kids.” Well, they had each taken three and they weren’t dead yet. Perhaps Trine was telling the truth and Love Hearts were being taken at raves all over the country. When one clubber was taken to hospital following an ecstasy induced fit, I decided that Trine was right about something else: Ecstasy is dangerous. Time to go for it. The safest way to test any unknown substance is to start with a low dose and gradually increase it. It’s very easy to put more drugs inside your body, but very difficult to take them out again. Removal usually involves inconvenient trips to the hospital, tubes into the stomach, that sort of thing. Anyway, we started low, a friend and I took one tablet apiece. For twenty minutes, nothing happened. We sat around, waiting for the caffeine to hit. Then, the surface of my skin became to get hotter and hotter. We went out into the foyer to check each other out in the light and relative quiet. Our skins had turned bright red all over. My lips felt engorged, there was a ringing in my ears and I could feel the blood pumping around the veins in my head. After an hour, the sensations began to subside. The effect wasn’t a drug effect, it was simply unpleasant. There was no effect on my mind at all, but my body felt as though it had been in the sun too long. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 representing normality and 1 representing having your wisdom teeth pulled out without an anaesthetic, I’d say Love Hearts rated about a four. I managed to trick four or five other people into trying the pills, just to verify my own experience. They all agreed. Vile. Still, I wasn’t about to give up. Love Hearts might be a cynical attempt to rip off the drug-obsessed kids on the rave scene but there must be a host of other legal substances that might do the trick. While my skin was burning away in the foyer of the Floral Hall, I fell into conversation with some lads from North Wales. After explaining the nature of my quest, they told me about their own favourite legal high. Potters Herbal Cigarettes are a smoking preparation made from stramonium. They break up the cigarettes, and make tea with the herb. They claimed that drinking the tea gave them an intense, trip-like experience. I gave that idea short shrift. I don’t want an intense, trip-like experiences, thank you. Besides, I already know about Stramonium. It is derived from a plant called Datura that European witches used to make a psychedelic ointment. They would apply it to the mucus membrane of their vagina using a broomstick. The high that resulted produced sensations of flying, often accompanied by fantastic visions of strange lands. It was probably this practice that gave rise to the popular image of witches flying on broomsticks. In America, the Datura plant is better known as Jimson Weed or Loco Weed. Who wants to be the Timothy Leary of Loco Weed? I had a much better idea, Khat. Khat is the Ecstasy of the Yemen. Some experts claim that it is addictive, always a good sign. Apparently, the people of Yemen spend a third of the Gross National Product on the vegetable-like drug. The whole country stops work at one o’clock. People gather for their daily chew. It is a social ritual, somewhat akin to a few drinks after work. There have also been reports of psychosis following overuse, another good sign. All I had to do was score. I copped from a city centre newsagent. At first, the shopkeeper looked perplexed. “No I haven’t got a cat.” After she finally twigged, she went downstairs into the shop’s cellar, and returned bearing half a tree. “This is Yemeni Khat. On Saturday’s, we get Ethiopian Khat. The Ethiopian is more powerful — you can sleep on the Yemeni, but Ethiopian keeps you awake all night.” Apparently, a whole drug subculture exists under our noses but completely invisible. Khat has to be fresh in order to work, so the shop gets a delivery every day. Moderate strength for the weekdays, and the heavy duty gear for a Saturday night. I made a wad out of the young leaves and twigs and tried to masticate slowly. It tasted like a privet hedge. Seconds later, I had a mouth full of pulverised leaves. I spat it out and tried again. This time, I took a more substantial amount. After positioning the wad in my cheek I sat around waiting for the hit, feeling smug with my new-found anthropological skills. The hit comes on in a rush. A couple of hours of amphetamine-like stimulation is followed by a laid-back, introspective period. This drug actually works. The sensation is similar to a small dose of amphetamine. I felt stimulated — mentally alert, talkative and sociable. The main problem was the constant stream of bright green saliva that I was expectorating every minute or two. Yemeni homes and cafes provide a spittoon for this purpose. I wonder will it catch on here and fantasize about enormous Khat raves all over the country — ‘Mastication — featuring D.J. Chewing Tunes and MC Yocker. 100K lasers, 60K sound system, gyroscopes, brain machines, Yemeni massage and solid silver spittoons’. Sadly, there are a number of reasons why Khat is unlikely to catch on. Imagine how club bouncers would react to finding a bundle of Khat during a door search. And drugs have other socially properties besides their intoxicating effect. When you’re trying to impress the opposite sex, a foot- long bundle of foliage doesn’t have quite the same cachet as a pocketful of pills or a jar full of powder. Bored with the enterprise, I decide to give up. There is an enormous range of substances that people can use in order to change the way that they feel, but the safest and most reliable ones, the drugs that have stood the test of time, have all been made illegal. I asked one friend what he’d thought about the Love Hearts. “Legal drugs are a load of shite. Personally, I’m sticking to the Class A drugs. They aren’t called Class A for nothing.” The experience forced me to think about our drug policies, I wonder just how is it that the Daily Sport can advertise and sell Love Hearts, while kids who get caught selling counterfeit E’s get arrested and charged with deception or ‘going equipped to cheat’? I wonder why the newspapers get hysterical over twenty deaths attributed to Ecstasy, when two kids die every week as after sniffing solvents? Why can the tobacco industry still advertise their products, while cannabis, one of the safest drugs known to man, still remains illegal? Drug laws are shaped by racism and vested economic interest and the real reason that some drugs remain illegal is to allow the law to intervene in the lives of the dangerous classes. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even if the state did manage to completely stem the supply of a particular drug, people will find a substitute, but it may be more dangerous than the original drug. Personally, I’m off to the chemist to buy myself a bottle of Gee’s Linctus (active ingredient: tincture of opium). Go to Boots. Spend a pound. Throw up! (c) Peter McDermott email@example.com McDermott’s League of Legal Drug Desirability Substances are rated for euphoric quality, duration of action, and potential for damage Organic Highs Comments Magic mushrooms A popular and reliable favourite. Active ingredient psilocybin, a drug similar to mescaline. Not strictly legal - any preparation such as drying or crushing contravenes the Misuse of Drugs Act. Picking the wrong mushrooms may lead to poisoning and possibly death Morning Glory seeds Each seed contains one microgramme of Lysergic Acid Amide. Illegal trips usually contain about 100 mcg. Sprinkle them on your Muesli in the morning. May induce nausea, especially if sprayed with pesticides. Nutmeg The essential oil of Nutmeg is a precursor to Ecstasy. Once known as the prisoners high, Malcolm X reported using it in jail prior to his religious conversion. Difficult to consume enough to get high because of the nausea the drug produces. Unpleasant. Khat Available from Yemeni, Ethiopian or Somali grocers, a good deal at £5.00 a bunch. Some reports of psychosis and even addiction, but these may stem from our western cultural arrogance. Banana peel A sixties con-trick, banana peel and the other con of the period, saffron inspired Donovan’s hit record, Mellow yellow. Neither substance has any psychoactive effects whatsoever Pharmacol gical highs Do-Do’s Once popular with punk rockers, the active ingredient is ephedrine a precursor to speed that is said to produce a speed- like high.. Not very nice at all. Dr. Collis Brownes Compound The junkie’s standby, Collis Browne’s did contain the most morphine of any over- the-counter product. A new formula has reduced the drinkability of this preparation. If you can get past the nausea, definitely addictive. Benzedrine Inhalers A favourite with beatniks who would swallow the cotton wool with coffee. Sadly, unavailable since the early sixties. Vicks Menthol Popular with ravers. Smells better than sweaty bodies but no psychoactive effects whatsoever Potter’s Herbal Cigarettes A deliriant rather than a true psychedelic, Potters like Kwells and Valoid can make you unpleasantly crazy Chemical Highs Butyl nitrite The term poppers comes from amyl nitrite, an angina medication. Butyl nitrite is available in sex shops as Rush, Bolt, Locker-room, etc.. Popular for dancing and fucking. A suspected immunosuppresant, this is also not recommended for anyone with a weak heart Nitrous oxide A hit with the inventor Humphry Davy and philosopher William James, capsules of this dental anaesthetic gas can be bought in metal capsules for whipped cream dispensers. Make sure you get plenty of oxygen to avoid brain damage or death through suffocation Solvents Glue, Lighter fuel, Petrol shoe conditioner. and a host of others. Only really popular with children, punks and aborigines. Deaths from solvent misuse occur at the rate of two a week in the UK. Rip-offs Bob Martin’s worm tablets. A dead ringer for a disco biscuit - useful if you happen to need worming. Bisto Sometimes sold as heroin on strret drug markets. Ahhhhhhh! Oxo Cubes Don’t buy the brown hash. - save it for the sunday joint. Love Hearts Love is like an itching in my heart — and I can’t scratch it! No psychoactive effects whatsoever. Natural Highs Life Popular with religious types but sometiumes not all it’s cracked up to be. Anyone obsessed with drugs, though, would be well advised to get one, quick. Love The greatest hit of all. Highly addictive, powerful rush, but a terrible comedown. Sex Often dificult to score and can be somewhat disappointing. As with Ecstasy, new risks have emerged in recent years, but if you’re sensible, you can minimize them. Great fun.