Designer Drugs

China is a leading source of not-quite-illicit drugs and chemicals used to make them:

The labs have also figured out how to stay one step ahead of laws banning illicit synthetic drugs simply by tweaking a few molecules, creating new and not-yet-illegal drugs.

Since 2008, the number of new psychoactive substances reported to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has soared more than eightfold to 541, far outpacing the 244 drugs controlled under global conventions. Often sold as “legal highs” and “research chemicals,” these drugs are designed specifically to exploit an outdated international legal framework. ...

To stay ahead of local and international laws banning new synthetic drugs, his company, China Enriching Chemistry, constantly developed new chemical variations for export, American officials said.

The company’s website, for instance, advertises a substance called “Eric-2,” a substitute for mephedrone that costs $1,500 for 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces.

“It falls outside all illegal laws currently regarding research chemicals,” the website boasts in slightly flawed English.
- In China, Illegal Drugs Are Sold Online in an Unbridled Market, by Dan Levin, New York Times, June 21, 2015

See also The Illusion of Illegality.

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