New Upgraded SSL Certificates on Erowid and EcstasyData

This last week we installed upgraded security certificates on Erowid and EcstasyData.

Over the last couple years there have been lots of new exploits and problems discovered with SSL. Although we have kept up with all the security updates as soon as they were announced (thanks to JL and Brian!), we had not upgraded our web security certificates that allow for substantially more secure connections for browsers that request it.

The new certs support SHA-2. SHA-1 is now considered “dangerously weak” and some groups have declared that they will no longer support it by the end of 2015.

As of today, gives an “A” :

SSL Labs Gives Erowid A
SSL Labs Gives Erowid A

Marquis and LSD: Is color change visible?

Short Summary: Marquis, Mecke, Mandelin, and Simons are not reliable tools for confirming or disproving the presence of LSD in blotter, liquid, gel, or tablet forms.

 Figure 1 Confirmed LSD blotter produces little or no reaction to Marquis, Mecke, and Mendelin when tested on white porcelain.
Figure 1 Confirmed LSD blotter produces little or no reaction to Marquis, Mecke, and Mendelin when tested on white porcelain.

Long Version: We get asked a lot about how specific drugs react to the various drug-detection field tests like Marquis, Mecke, Mandelin, Simons, Robadope, Ehrlich’s, etc. In most cases, it’s a matter of getting some of the pure target compound, a fresh set of reagents, and doing a little testing, photographing, and documentation..

However, with drugs active below 1mg, such as LSD, this may not be so simple. Because the amount of target compound is often very small, the reactions can be altered, slowed, or blocked by tiny amounts of other substances present. In the case of LSD blotter paper, where the amount of LSD on a 1/4″ square (6mmx6mm) is usually at or below 100 micrograms, the paper and the ink on the paper are far more likely to be the cause of a color change than the LSD itself. With liquid LSD, the alcohol carrier can dilute the response enough that no color change is visible. Thus, a color change or the lack of color change can be due to the form in which the substance is being tested.

LSD is said to create an olive green or black reaction with a Marquis reagent test. Organizations that sell reagent tests such as Dancesafe and Bunk Police report that LSD has an olive-black reaction with a Marquis test. This may be based upon sources such as this Department of Justice article stating that LSD causes an “Olive black” result. [ Fatah A. “Color Test Reagents/Kits for Preliminary Identification of Drugs of Abuse” (2000) ].

Figure 2 LSD sample confirmed by GC/MS produces no response to Marquis, Mecke, or Mandelin reagents.  Black squares shown to illustrate blotter location do not indicate a “black” color reaction to these tests.
Figure 2 LSD sample confirmed by GC/MS produces no response to Marquis, Mecke, or Mandelin reagents. Black squares shown to illustrate blotter location do not indicate a “black” color reaction to these tests.

However, the results of our own lab’s field tests on samples confirmed to contain LSD using GC/MS show varying responses to Marquis and other field tests. When tested with a Marquis reagent, most of these samples showed no reaction or only a very slight reaction and none produced an olive green or black reaction. For examples of these test results see Figure 1 and Figure 2. Furthermore, the blotter paper itself—not the LSD—may be causing these slight reactions.

You can see a list of numerous LSD samples on EcstasyData along with their field test color changes here:

Despite claims that LSD produces an olive green or black reaction to Marquis, evidence collected and published through EcstasyData does not support this. Furthermore, a 1979 paper by by Johns et al is consistent with these EcstasyData results. The researchers tested a wide variety of drugs from that era with nine different reagent tests, including Marquis and Ehrlich (Table 1). This paper reports that LSD only reacts with Ehrlich and not with any of the other reagents. Interestingly, the researchers used dry LSD from Sandoz Laboratories. Other publications claiming that LSD produces olive green or black reactions to Marquis do not report the source or form (i.e. liquid, crystal, or blotter) of the LSD tested. The results of the Johns et al., study suggests that confirmed pure crystal LSD has no reaction with a Marquis test. Below is a summary of the results:

Compound Reagent test Color reaction Testing surface
LSD Marquis no reaction Porcelain
LSD Mecke no reaction Porcelain
LSD Madelin no reaction Porcelain
LSD Cobalt thiocyanate no reaction Porcelain
LSD Dille-Koppanyi no reaction Porcelain
LSD Ehrlich purple Porcelain
LSD Froehde no reaction Porcelain
LSD Sulfuric acid no reaction Porcelain
LSD Nitric acid no reaction Porcelain

Although other sources say that LSD causes an olive-black reaction with a Marquis reagent test, this study, along with the EcstasyData results, suggests that LSD may not cause an olive-black reaction with a Marquis test—at least not on blotter paper in the amounts it is commonly sold. Based on this evidence, the Marquis is not a reliable for test for LSD. On the other hand, the Ehrlich may be an alternative test for this purpose based on the findings published by Johns et al. The Ehrlich reagent produces a color change when LSD or another indole is present. However, like all reagent tests, an Ehrlich is not a confirming test, it is just another in a wide array of rule in / rule out tests that can help confirm or deny the presence of LSD in a given sample.

Thanks to W and Shaolin at the DMT Nexus for their work on this issue.

Morphine from BioSludge: Not Yet, But Soon

As drug geeks have already seen, in May and June 2015, a bunch of news came out of a publication of, perhaps, the final genetic puzzle piece to be able to engineer custom organisms (such as yeasts, slimes, goops, and other things that grow well in petri dishes and buckets) that could produce morphine.

The puzzle pieces have not all been assembled yet to prove that the puzzle has been solved, but it appears close enough that we added a Bioengineering section to our Poppy Vault as a place to keep track of the progress.

The global pharmaceutical industry has been designing organisms, altering DNA and RNA, to act as microbial factories to perform steps of synthetic chemistry since around 1980 (see Goeddel D, et al. 1978). So the technologies necessary to insert genes into microbes and use them to generate, synthesize, or convert one chemical to another are becoming fairly mature.

As Robert Service, an author at ScienceMag writes:

With the last piece of the puzzle now in hand, Dueber says the challenge will be to express the genes for the full synthetic pathway into yeast. That’s a “considerable” hurdle, Dueber says, but likely doable within a few years. Even when that’s done, the microbes will still likely only make vanishingly small quantities of the final medicines. So then the task will be to increase the efficiency of each of the steps. That, too, is likely not an insurmountable challenge. (

The two primary law enforcement implications of this technology are the future simplification of disallowing natural poppy growing and the problem of having morphine as a possible home brew drug. If in vitro morphine production is successful, the giant, legal poppy fields used to generate the source material for some of the most popular pharmaceuticals in the world could be eliminated. That would allow global drug enforcement agencies to outlaw all poppy fields, making them easier to police and destroy.

But the other edge of that technology is that it makes it possible and even likely that there will be dark and gray market availability of engineered organisms that generate morphine or related compounds. Currently, the global heroin and oxycodone markets depend on massive grow operations in remote locations. 20-40 years from now, it could nearly all be switched over to vat and bucket sourced molecules.

MSM Trace in MDMA Sample?

A visitor asked about result 3669. This result was determined by DDL via GC/MS to contain primarily MDMA but also a trace amount of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM has some practical applications in the final crystallization of some recreational stimulants (notably methamphetamine) but could also be used as a bulking agent to boost retail profits.

The visitor wanted to know how sure we are that the MSM was only a trace and not a more major component of the sample. Here’s an answer from our lab trying to address the issue:

There are numerous complications when asking how certain the ‘trace’ finding is for MSM in the testing process.

First, DDL has never done a quantitative analysis of MSM using our testing process. So our methods for analyzing MSM have not been validated by our team.

It could be that it might take a little more MSM to show up compare to say meth or MDMA, since MSM is a much smaller compound. We don’t know this for certain and would need to spend time verifying it if this is important to the project.

Second, MSM is easily detected and seen. We know it shows up we have detected it in many samples over the years.

Third, although we do not know for certain how a known quantity of MSM mixed uniformly with a known quantity of MDMA would show up in our GC/MS, it is hard to imagine the trace we saw with this sample representing more than a tiny amount in the actual sample analyzed.

Fourth, process issues it is possible that the sample submitted contained more MSM proportionally than we reported due to process issues. It could be that the sample might not be homogenized. If a baggie or capsule is filled with MSM and Meth, but wasn’t thoroughly mixed when filled, and when we open the capsule a pour a good representative amount to use, maybe there’s more MSM powder at the end of the capsule. Or perhaps MSM is not homogenized on a sample tablet when a good portion is scraped off or a portion broken off and crushed for analysis.

If we were primarily concerned about homogenization, we would dissolve the entire sample in a solvent, but we don’t do this for several reasons. We don’t want to use up the whole sample on the first attempt because a sample may not dissolve perfectly in the first solvent we choose or we may need to re-evaluate the analytical process from scratch and we would not want to add a solvent to all of the powder if we can avoid it. There are more reasons to keep the original solid sample than there are to homogenize the whole thing.

Fifth, one thing is certain, we can’t be certain. The way each drug appears using each analytical technique different. Because of this, quantitative analysis of drugs in forensic toxicology typically involves very technical development of validated processes using the drugs in their deuterated forms as internal standards.

So, there are numerous variables that may explain it only being trace relative to other drugs. Most likely, the sample only contained a tiny amount of MSM, but without further analysis this point, there’s no way to be certain.