alt.drugs Clandestine Chemistry Primer & FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions)
(c) 1995 Yogi Shan
"Give me an underground laboratory,
half a dozen atom-smashers, and a
beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil
waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee,
and I care not who writes the nation's
-- S.J. Perelman
Subject: 1. Introduction and Miscellanea
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
UseNet is one of the most amazing phenomenon I have ever seen: a
dynamic synthesis of human knowledge, thought, and understanding.
Where else but on the 'Net could I post a comment about an obscure
line from the SF cult movie "Blade Runner" in the evening, and
find half a dozen follow-up posts from fellow aficionados scattered
across the globe, by the next day?
But as the human spirit soars to unimaginable heights, so does it
wallow in the gutter of depravity with equal, if not greater joy.
As a high traffic newsgroup, alt.drugs generates about 130 posts a
day. And according to news.lists estimates (Jan. 1995), has 120,000
daily readers, a possibly conservative figure.
A topic of continuing interest -- enough to result in the 1994
spawning of its own subgroup, alt.drugs.chemistry -- is the subject
of "underground" or "clandestine" chemistry: the covert manufacture
of illicit drugs.
In an undoubtedly vain attempt to stem the flow of wasted bandwidth
arising from idiotic "How do you make <illegal_drug>?" questions on
the alt.drugs* and sci.chem newsgroups, I have assembled this FAQ/
This document is Copyright (c) 1995 by Yogi Shan. This text, in
whole or in part, may not be sold in any medium, including but not
limited to electronic, CD-ROM, or print, without the express written
permission of Yogi Shan.
Permission is granted to reproduce for individual, personal, non-
commercial use, in electronic form *ONLY*, provided that no part
of this document is modified in any way, including this notice.
I reserve the right to revoke this permission at any time (though
I don't presently anticipate doing so).
Any commercial, organizational, institutional, or governmental use
is expressly forbidden without prior written permission.
REWARD OFFERED!: If you know of any violation of this copyright
notice, please show your gratitude to the author for making
available this document, by letting him know. As well, I'll give
you 25% of any damage award (net) I get from legal action.
If you have found this document of use, a $5 donation is requested
to any of the following: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
Amnesty International, or any schizophrenia/mental health charitable
organization. Please let the author <firstname.lastname@example.org> know if you have
made such a donation. It will truly brighten his day. Thanks!
Where To Find This Document
Initial Draft...............................v. 1.0 950319
Major Revision............................. v. 2.0 950419
Added Synthetic Heroin and Amphetamine
Impurities Sections.........................v. 2.5 950518
Thanks to Malcolm, Lamont, Pearl, KMH, and especially Denni,
for their comments and input.
Nothing in this document should [obviously] be construed as
advocating or promoting the criminal violation of any laws.
Neither does the author take responsibility should you poison,
injure, or blow yourself or others to smithereens doing
something alluded to in this document.
Subject: 2. Table of Contents
1. Introduction and Miscellanea
2. Table of Contents
misc.legal & misc.legal.moderated
4. Books: The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly
PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story
The Anarchist Cookbook
5. So You Want to Make <Illegal_Drug>
The Merck Index
6. Historical References on Underground Chemistry
"No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
LSD Manufacturing: Boys -- and Girls -- in the 'Hood
A Selected Bibliography on Synthetic Heroin
7. "You Have Greatly Misunderstood the Purpose of the Net"
Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
"Please e-mail me the answer to my [Stupid] Question."
"Why Didn't Anyone Answer my [Stupid] Question?"
Is the DEA on the Net?
Can I Rely on Net.answers to my Questions?
8. The Law: Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200,000
9. Morality & Ethics
Subject: 3. Net.resources
"It's propping up the governments,
In Colombia an' Peru,
You ask any DEA man,
He'll say, 'There's nothin' we can do.'
From the Office of the President,
Right down to me an' you.
Me & you."
-- "Smuggler's Blues"
Glenn Frey/Jack Tempchin (1984)
A document listing a plethora of net.resources may be found at:
Other World Wide Web and other Net sites are:
<http://www.lycaeum.org/> [an "entheogen" group]
<http://www.csp.org/entheogen.html> [another "entheogen" group]
<http://www.undcp.org/> [U.N. Drug Control Program]
<http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/pblist.htm> [the U.S. DEA]
<http://www.crl.com/~zbear/> [Owsley Stanley's artwork]
There are a variety of FAQs and other documents, which range from
excellent to not-so-excellent, available at the hyperreal.com site
(the "official" alt.drugs site). In case it changes (making this
reference stale), the pointer to the site is regularly posted to
alt.drugs as the alt.drugs FAQ and the Net Resources FAQ.
The "Australian Natural Highs FAQ" and "Chemical Extraction FAQ" are
particularly note-worthy, since extraction of botanical drugs is the
procedure most likely to be successful for the amateur. The chemical
synthesis section of "PIHKAL" (infra) may also be found at
The book "E for Ecstasy" (1993), by the Englishman, Nicholas Saunders
<Nicholas@neals.cityscape.co.uk> is also available at hyperreal.com
as well as at:
There's an interesting piece in the Notes section (at the end),
describing the trials and tribulations of clandestine MDMA
manufacture as experienced by some English entrepreneurs. The
appendix (by Alexander Shulgin) lists a number of synthetic
references for MDMA, though it is incomplete. The MDMA
FAQ at hyperreal.com has a good chemistry section too.
Email <Cora.Belgique@agora.stm.it> for a regular e-mail report
summarizing an extensive variety of newspaper reports on issues
of drugs and drug control. Focus is on European newspapers by
the anti-prohibition group. Not really clandestine chemistry
related, but interesting nonetheless.
As well, some very high quality chemical and pharmacological
information is occasionally posted by some readers of alt.drugs.
However, the signal-to-noise ratio is very low (< 1:100), so you
have to pay close attention. Even worse are the idiots who have
read a book or two and now fancy themselves as experts. They are
As with the rest of the net, reputation is a good *indication*.
Majority rules is not. Never gamble where issues concern health,
safety, or freedom. In the interests of eugenics, feel free to
ignore the previous statement.
Though the focus is on "smart" drugs, alt.psychoactives is a related
group with a much lower traffic level that you might want to check
out/post to. Ditto for alt.drugs.psychedelic.
Make it easy for the DEA: post your chemistry questions here. After
all, we wouldn't want them having to wade through a lot of silly "I'm
really baked! (Hi, Mom!)" posts.
Less well propagated on the net (by half!) than alt.drugs, for obvious
reasons. In order to maximize your audience, cross-post to alt.drugs
if you're going to post here.
Many a great mind will attempt to tap into the knowledge-base of
*real* chemists in their glorious quest for riches, er, I mean
enlightenment, by posting thinly disguised drug manufacturing
questions to sci.chem. Usually related to the manufacture of
methamphetamine, these queries generally fool only the totally
The questions are generally phrased around the topic of reducing
agents, reduction of benzylic alcohols, reductive amination, or
the ever-popular benzyl methyl ketone/phenylacetone, the archaic
pre-IUPAC names for P-2-P, the notorious (and scheduled) amphetamine
precursor. (P-2-P was mentioned briefly in the Harrison Ford movie
Such questions seldom produce the desired result, though I suppose
there's no harm in trying, as long as you don't mind being flamed,
or having your name passed to the relevant civil authorities. On
the other hand, I've also seen some craftily worded drug synthesis
questions successfully run the gauntlet without detection.
Posting anonymously tips off many people to the true nature of your
(nefarious) motives, by the way.
misc.legal & misc.legal.moderated
Get all your legal questions answered NOW. There's no Newsfeed in
Anon.penet.fi is no longer available, but the many U.S. cypherpunks
anon remailers are even better, and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), for
encrypting e-mail, should be _de rigueur_.
The fact that these utilities are easily available (check out
alt.security.pgp, alt.privacy.anon-server, alt.anonymous, and
sci.crypt; or wait for the two different PGP FAQs to appear in
news.answers or alt.answers; ask around if you need help!), but
not widely used, is _de facto_ evidence that drug use impairs good
judgement, if not the mental faculties, in general.
For a current list of various anonymous remailers:
or alternatively: finger <email@example.com>
Subject: 4. Books: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
"[It's] the last American folk adventure...
the light in the moon...narcotics agents
chasing you all over the land. It's a
fantasy made real."
-- George Marquardt, convicted
drug chemist, on his profession
As with the Net in general, there is a paucity of accurate
information available on the subject of illicit drugs. Even
the fact of publication is not necessarily a guarantee of any
sort of technical legitimacy, particularly, though not limited
to, "counter-culture" efforts.
There are many reasons why people write books, but making money
is one of the biggest. When the subject is of an illegal nature,
the likelihood of inadequate, incomplete, or blatantly wrong
information is even higher than usual.
Companies like Paladin, Delta Press, and Loompanics are typical
purveyors of such trashy misinformation under cover of the U.S.
Ever seen the list of "underground" books by Ragnar Benson &
Duncan Long? How many things can these guys be "expert" in?
Not bloody likely. What's that maxim? If you can't do, teach.
One of the more egregious examples of gross error in the drug
book realm, was the "Cocaine Consumer's Handbook" by one David
Lee (Berkeley, California: And/Or Press, 1976). In it, Mr.
Lee flogged the notorious "Clorox [bleach] Test" for cocaine.
This test, described in excruciating detail, and complete with
color photographs, purported to detect not only eight different
adulterants and diluents, but the relative percentage purity of
the cocaine itself.
Alas, several years later, the test was finally unmasked as utter
nonsense by PharmChem, a reputable Menlo Park, CA street drug
analysis organization. Their testing established that the orange
color produced when lidocaine is present in the sample being tested
was the extent of the Clorox Test's scope and usefulness.
Undeterred, Mr. Lee -- shameless scallywag and possible shill for
the Clorox Company -- came out in 1981 with a brand new book, "The
Cocaine Handbook: An Essential [sic] Reference." Alluding coyly to
the PharmChem "controversy", Lee continued to include the Clorox
Test (now illustrated with black & white photos), but added an
equally useless "foil burn" test (with color pics), along with the
detailed procedure for home manufacture of freebase ("crack") cocaine.
Cocaine use had by now begun to lose its cachet, as well as more than
the occasional user, so the ever-helpful Lee covered his bases and
assuaged his seemingly bullet-proof conscience by including a thirteen
page (!) list of addiction service agencies.
So it goes.
There are many other such errors large and small that have made it
into print. Books like the "Anarchist Cookbook" (infra) are ridden
with them. For instance grafting a hop plant onto a marijuana root
(debunked by Crombie & Crombie (1975) and Starks (1990), infra),
and making meth from soft coal, ammonia, and bluing compound
(described in "Complete Guide to the Street Drug Game" by Scott
French. Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart (1976)) are all complete bunk.
Militating against the writing of quality books is that the fact of
the matter is that if you gain enough knowledge to be a competent
underground chemist, you can snag good paying employment -- and not
risk your freedom and mortal soul through involvement with the drug
(Then again, there's the infamous case of Michael Hovey,
the young DuPont chemist gone feral ["Chem. & Eng. News",
851223 & 860310].
Working at DuPont's Delaware research facility in quiet
desperation, and apparently inspired by lurid media
accounts of Fentanyl analogue manufacture, out of the
blue he decided to go into the synthetic heroin
Unfortunately for him, he had no contacts for distributing
his 3-methylfentanyl product. In a hopelessly amateurish
attempt to make such contacts -- he approached a black
DuPont janitor -- he was promptly turned in, arrested,
convicted, and sentenced to an 18 year Federal prison term
(Ouch!). For apostasy, more than anything else.
Needless to say, Dr. Hovey was also promptly fired.
Cf. "New Scientist", 930807, p. 21-22, for a different
case at Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals in England.)
Nonetheless, reliable books on clandestine chemistry have been
published. Below are some of the more accurate efforts I have seen.
It is no coincidence that the "good" ones originate from the San
Francisco Bay area, a center of politically-motivated underground
chemistry since the early Sixties.
These books may be "illegal" and/or subject to confiscation by
postal/customs authorities in countries such as Canada and Australia.
M.V.Smith. Port Townsend, Washington: Loompanics (1981).
<firstname.lastname@example.org> (P.O. Box 1197, Port Townsend, WA 98368).
Largely abstracted from the specialist literature, PC is the
hands-down leader in a very small field. It's a classic. LSD,
mescaline, psychedelic amphetamines, and THC are thoroughly
covered, among others. One of the more interesting "recipes"
is an actual underground one for the large-scale production of
LSD; to wit, a two million (!) dose batch.
M.V. Smith (a reference to the Martian messiah in Robert Heinlein's
'60s SF classic, "Stranger in a Strange Land") is a pseudonym for
Michael Starks, author of "Marijuana Chemistry" (infra). PC was
originally published by San Francisco's RipOff Press, and --
unfortunately for the budding felon -- requires a thorough grounding
in organic chemistry to make heads or tails of. Though out of date,
it is generally accurate.
There are two known serious mistakes. The first is an MDA synthesis
where hydrogen peroxide is substituted for water, with possibly
unfortunate results. This mistake was copied from the "Chemical
Abstracts" (infra) abstract that was the source of this entry.
The second error is the extension of the Ritter Reaction to MDA.
According to a 1958 _Bull. Soc. Chim. Fr._ paper and others,
apparently ring-substituted allylbenzenes will cyclicize to the
Loompanics also sells a few other books on clandestine chemistry,
which range from trash to OK. An example is Jim DeKorne's
"Psychedelic Shamanism", which is in the worthless trash category.
DeKorne is apparently a devotee of botanical psychedelics --
though not devoted enough to bother accurately documenting chemical
extraction procedures. [See the hyperreal.com web site for two
reviews of DeKorne's book, as well as the two previously mentioned
alt.drugs FAQs which are not only better, but free to boot.]
"PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"
("Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved"), Alexander & Ann
Shulgin. Berkeley, California: Transform Press (1991).
(P.O. Box 13675, Berkeley, CA 94701).
Authored by a published, legitimate, and respected chemist (his
non-chemist wife is co-author), PIHKAL thoroughly outlines the
synthesis of a couple of hundred psychedelic amphetamines (N,a-
alkylarylethylamines and congeners), including MDMA.
Many of these compounds, such as STP, were first synthesized,
and/or pharmacologically noticed, by Shulgin himself, beginning
in the mid-60s while working for Dow Chemical (Smith & Luce,
infra). _PIHKAL_ was Shulgin's "going public" with the fact
that his work continued long after government funding was shut
off, Schedule I classification, and finally, the Analogue Act,
had strangled the field this Ghost in the Machine advocated.
PIHKAL is an expanded and metamorphosed version of a lengthy
chapter by Shulgin in the "Handbook of Psychopharmacology" (11:
Like PC, you have to be a chemist to understand the syntheses,
since explanations of the synthetic routes are either sparse
or non-existent. The "recipe" section is available at the
It is believed that Dr. Shulgin is less respected -- in more staid
circles -- since publication of his _magnum opus_.
In 1995, the U.S. DEA, in likely retribution, and displaying their
trademark sense of humor, raided his Lafayette, California lab,
stripped him of his license to handle Schedule I Controlled
Substances, and fined him $25,000.
Michael Starks. Berkeley, California: Ronin Press (1990).
(P.O. Box 1035, Berkeley, CA 94701).
A detailed examination, written for the layman, of the world's most
thoroughly persecuted peasant inebriant. Extensively covers potency
issues in growing, home hash oil manufacture, and isomerization.
Good discussion on the pros and cons of various extraction solvents.
Contains an updated section on THC synthesis from PC, which Starks
also wrote. Originally published as "Marijuana Potency" (And/Or
"The Anarchist Cookbook"
William Powell. Secaucus, NJ: Barricade Books (1971)
($22 [includes S&H] from P.O.Box 1401, Secaucus, N.J. 07096).
I mention the infamous AC because of its notoriety, popular appeal
(over a million copies in circulation), and simply because it was
A veritable grab-bag of techniques for psychedelic urban guerrilla
warfare, the AC contains recipe-style, how-to sections on the home
manufacture of drugs and explosives, demolitions, weapons, and
electronic eavesdropping, making the AC the first mass market
publication created with the express purpose of subverting modern
technology in order to overthrow the government.
For this reason alone, the book is a classic.
Unfortunately, the book is outdated and full of all sorts of mistakes,
though most of the dangerous ones are confined to the explosives
chapter. The DMT recipe will *not* work (you have to use anhydrous
dimethylamine, not the 40% aqueous commercial solution that the AC
implies), for instance, Aldrich won't sell you trimethoxyphenylaceto-
nitrile, and the "bananadine" and peanut skin recipes are nonsense.
Thus, I cannot recommend the AC except as a curiosity, a stepping
stone to more serious works, or to impress cheap dates with your hipness.
But then again, with its healthy dollop of revolutionary leftist
ideology, I think that the AC was never meant to be so much an end
in itself, but more a beginning.
"Cannabis Alchemy" (by D. Gold), "Dr. Atomic's Marijuana Multiplier"
(a comic by Larry Todd), "Basic Drug Manufacture", and "The Book of
Acid" (by Adam Gottlieb) are several old, but reasonably accurate
Though technically accurate, they sprang forth from a time when
chemical sales were much less strictly controlled. Use at face
value is pretty much guaranteed to end you up in jail, rank
amateur status notwithstanding.
They are available from a number of '60s reprise, counter-culture
suppliers (such as FS Book Co., P.O. Box 417457, Sacramento, CA
95841) that advertise in such drug publications as the mass-market
"High Times" <http://www.hightimes.com/~hightimes/welcome.html>
and the smaller, shoestring-budget "Psychedelic Illuminations"
<http://www.lycaeum.org/~jkent/pi/> or (P.O. Box 3186, Fullerton,
There are other books available from Loompanics that I have seen
mentioned in alt.drugs, however I off-loaded my rakish friends many
years ago, and so haven't had the opportunity to borrow and review
them (donations cheerfully accepted!).
These include "Recreational Drugs" (by Prof. Buzz), "Secrets of
Methamphetamine Manufacture" (4th ed., Uncle Fester), and "The
Construction and Operation of Clandestine Drug Laboratories" (Jack
B. Nimble). No word on whether a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card
comes with purchase. The imaginative pseudonyms may give you some
clue as to the quality of these books, which is quite uneven.
Fester seems to focus on the Leuckart reaction, which though simple
to do, has a rather low yield. It's obvious he was clever enough to
locate the "Org. Synth. Collective Volumes", though this is not
particularly clever, in my mind. He repeats the Ritter reaction
error mentioned previously.
Fester has also written "Practical LSD Manufacture" which is an
interesting title given that unlike his amphetamine book, it
seems highly doubtful that he has any actual practical experience
in this area. His horn-tooting about having discovered the
infamous "Operation Julie" LSD formula (Lee & Shlain, infra,
p. 288) is utter nonsense: propionyl anhydride is a reportable
precursor due to its utility in reversed ester synthetic opiate
The underground chemist as pop icon. The incorporation of the
clandestine chemist into popular culture has been limited with
the unfamiliarity of the public -- and indeed the authors and
screen-writers that entertain them -- with the highly technical
nature of their work.
With _shlock_ and mediocrity the norm, verisimilitude has certainly
always been a rather rare commodity on the big screen, but
particularly so in the case where technocriminal activity is
On the other hand, notable high-points in this genre are worth
mentioning, since some of the scenes are quite memorable
technically, with their own cult following amongst those in
They include "Three Days of the Condor" (1975) with Robert Redford
and Faye Dunaway (phone phreak/wireman/assassin); "Thief" (ca. 1980)
with James Caan as the safecracker with the thermal lance; and "To
Live & Die in L.A." (1985) directed by William Friedkin, and starring
Willem Dafoe as the deviant master counterfeiter (the legal info is
inaccurate, the offset photolithography is bang on.).
The first portrayal of an underground chemist in the mass media
that I've seen, was in the 1971 Academy Award winning movie, "The
French Connection" (also directed by Friedkin), a fictionalized
account of an actual N.Y. City Police investigation that is more
popularly remembered for its excellent car chase scene.
Pat McDermott plays Howard the junkie chemist, making two brief
appearances to test, for New York gangsters, the 60 kg. heroin
shipment from Marseilles that is the subject of the film.
In the first test, the chemist performs a "Thiele tube melting point
test" to determine the purity of the heroin. An archaic, low-tech,
but quite effective testing method for relatively pure organics,
this test utilizes the fact that 100% pure heroin hydrochloride (aka
"China White") melts at precisely 243-244 deg. C.
The more "cut" (diluted) or impure the heroin, the wider the temper-
ature range from initial to complete melting, and the lower the
initial temperature of the melting range.
In the scene, Howard fills the Thiele tube with mineral oil, places
a tiny sample of the heroin to be tested into a capillary tube
sealed at one end, and immerses it, tied to a thermometer, into the
The oil bath temperature is then slowly raised by heating with an old-
style chemistry set alcohol burner as the chemist watches for the
crystalline sample to begin melting, while he simultaneously monitors
His running commentary on the heroin's purity begins at an arbitrary
baseline ("blast off") of 180 degrees Centigrade:
"Blast off! ...One-eight-oh...
Two Hundred: Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval...
Two-ten: U.S. Government Certified...
Two-twenty: Lunar trajectory; Junk-of-the-Month Club sirloin
Two-thirty: Grade A poison...
Absolutely dynamite. [It's] 89% pure 'junk' -- best I've
ever seen. If the rest is like this, you'll be dealin' on
this load for two years."
In Howard's second appearance, he performs the crude but quick
Marquis Reagent spot test as a final, last minute check before the
smack shipment and buy money change hands. The Marquis Reagent, a
formaldehyde/sulfuric acid mixture, turns purple on contact with
opiates. [In at least some home-video versions of the movie this is
not clear, and the purple color looks orange.]
A sleazy, underwear-less biker "cook", replete with triple-necked,
ground-glass jointed flask, is portrayed as a minor character in the
1991 movie, "Rush". He's the one that coerces the female undercover
narc [Jennifer Jason Leigh] into dropping some sort of psychedelic
following a drug buy. (The reason he French kissed her at the end of
this scene, by the way, is to make sure that she had really swallowed
the pill. She had -- rather than holding it under her tongue like
most narcs would -- which no doubt saved her from some immediate
"Beyond the Law" (1993, released in Europe as "Fixing the Shadow")
stars Charlie Sheen in this somewhat cheezy "true story" of a narc
infiltrating some bikers running a speed lab.
In the fiction book category, "The Alchemist" by Kenneth Goddard
(N.Y.: Bantam, 1985), is a cliche-ridden potboiler about a manufac-
turer of PCP analogues. Gives the whole business a bad name [the
fiction book business, that is].
A nice color poster showing a submachine-gun-totting, ninja-ed out
raiding party member sporting a "DEA Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement
Team" patch is available from Delta Press <email@example.com> for
$11.95 + 3.75 S&H.
Subject: 5. So You Want to Make <Illegal_Drug>
"And then there came the night of the greatest ever raid,
They arrested every drug that had ever been made,
They took 82 laws,
Through 82 doors,
And they didn't halt the pull,
Till the cells were all full,
Cuz Julie's workin' for the Drug Squad,
Julie's been workin' for the Drug Squad."
-- "Julie's in the Drug Squad"
The Clash (1978)
The "Merck Index"
I can answer 90% of the technical questions posted to alt.drugs
by merely leafing through the copy I have at home of this exceedingly
useful book. It's truly the chemist's bible. The Merck is a
dictionary of thousands of chemicals, listing their structure, basic
chemical and pharmacological properties (though the angle seems to
be more along the lines of a medicinal chemist), and pointers to
synthesis and more detailed info.
"The Merck" -- as it's referred to by those in the know -- will be in
the reference section of any university science library, and any decent
public library. No, it isn't available on the Net.
The Merck -- not to be confused with the "Merck Manual" -- is a window
to the scientific specialist literature. Expect to have to learn some
chemistry to use it effectively. Your librarian can help you on
locating the journals referenced. (Don't worry, I doubt she'll have
the slightest clue what you're up to.) Most of the articles you seek
will be well-thumbed. Some will have been razored out of their volume:
living testimony to the "thermoplastic" morals of many a drug user,
unaware that desecrating books is the mark of low-born barbarians,
and a sin against God and Man.
Most of the syntheses referenced in the Merck will be in old, obscure,
and sometimes difficult to obtain journals, even if you do live near
[Side Note: A number of people may have been needlessly
harmed by a poorly made batch of the synthetic opiate,
MPPP, because a paper on a previous instance of this
happening was rejected by the mainstream medical journals
(it was finally published in a new and obscure journal,
"Psychiatry Research", where it languished unnoticed).]
Have no fear, Chem. Abs. is here!
Though the actual paper is *always* best, abstracts of U.S. and
foreign chemical patents and journal articles can also be found
in this invaluable journal. Any chem student, or the reference
librarian, can show you how to use it. You'll have to learn even
more chemistry to effectively use Chem. Abs. (Hint: Me = methyl,
Ac = acetyl).
Chem.Abs. is also good if you only read English, providing a
convenient translation of foreign language papers. (Personally,
I have found that being able to translate German -- as well as
the occasional French and Italian paper -- extremely useful in
my forays into the literature).
Subject: 6. Historical References on Underground Chemistry
"I had a number of projects that I wished to pursue
in France. I wanted to learn to speak the language,
I wanted to break my father loose from his grief
over the death of my mother, and especially, I
wanted to put a methylenedioxy group in place of
two of the methoxy groups in Trimethoxyamphetamine."
-- Dr. Alexander Shulgin
Ah yes. History, "the lie that all historians can agree on."
There is a dearth of historical information available on the subject of
underground/clandestine chemistry. Considering the shadowy and covert
nature of the business, this is really not surprising.
If I've missed any noteworthy publications, please let me know.
I could also have written sections on MDMA, Quaaludes, PCP/Angel Dust,
and heroin (both natural and synthetic analogues), but for reasons of
brevity, I won't (except for a selected bibliography on synthetic
opiates). Interestingly, different drugs have radically different
stories reflecting their unique origins, histories, markets, and
Going back a few decades, the moonshining business in the rural
Eastern U.S. provides an interesting historical antecedent to the
modern day drug manufacturing business. Serious researchers are
advised to examine this angle.
I found the parallels quite fascinating, from the analogous precursor
controls on sugar, to the flurry of Federal laws passed. (Ever wonder
why U.S. liquor bottles are embossed with the warning "Federal Law
"No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
"A little poison now and then, that makes for
agreeable dreams. And much poison in the end,
for an agreeable death."
-- "Thus Spake Zarathustra"
Probably the best layman's overview of the chemistry of illicit
drugs may be found in the ground-breaking paper, "The Clandestine
Drug Laboratory Situation in the U.S.", J.For.Sci., 28(1):18-31
(1983) by Richard S. Frank, then Chief of the DEA's Forensic
Complete with chemical diagrams, and covering the detailed synthetic
routes to methamphetamine, amphetamine, P-2-P, MDA, PCP, and metha-
qualone (quaaludes), the actual literature citations are conspic-
uously absent, no doubt to prevent amateurs from using the article
as a cookbook.
Nonetheless, publication of such a complete blueprint represented
a significant shift in strategy for the DEA's Forensic Division,
which apparently decided that underground laboratory activity had
become so widespread (it had: see next section) that the
advantages of dissemination in the open literature -- education
of state, local, and international forensic scientists and
investigators -- outweighed the disadvantages.
However, at the same time, it is also interesting to note that
this article deliberately provided clandestine chemists with a
correction to a wrong procedure. An obscure method for producing
methamphetamine involves the condensation of the Grignard, benzyl
magnesium chloride, with other reactants. However the order of
mixing of these reagents in one of the reaction's original literature
cites (a Chem. Abs. abstract of a British Patent) is incorrect.
This error was then reproduced in a shoddy underground drug-making
Unfortunately, even incorrectly mixed, instead of the reaction
simply failing, a white, crystalline -- and toxic -- solid
will still be produced ("Microgram" (1980), DEA, unpublished).
Apparently the unusual step of open source publication was
authorized with the knowledge that the information would reach
clandestine chemists, and thereby avoid some potential deaths.
No doubt this departure from the DEA's normal caginess must
have sparked heated internal debate over its propriety.
"Polydichloric Euthimal! Those stupid bastards
are taking Polydichloric Euthimal! It's an
amphetamine. Strongest thing you ever saw.
Makes you feel *wonderful*."
-- Dr. Lazarus
The amphetamines occupy a unique position in the world of underground
chemistry, in that they are highly marketable, profitable, as well
as easy to make, chemically-speaking.
The rise of the speed lab during the early 60s is documented in
"Love Needs Care" (David E. Smith & John Luce. Boston: Little, Brown,
1970), a chronicle of the travails of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic
during the 1967 Summer of Love, "The Speed Culture" (Lester Grinspoon
& Peter Hedblom), and "Licit and Illicit Drugs" (Edward Brecher. Mt.
Vernon, NY: Consumers Union, 1972).
The first two books are out-of-print, but all three are classic works
well worth locating for anyone interested in the sociological as well
as the pharmacological and forensic aspects of drug use in society.
The years 1979/1980 ushered in an explosion in the number of clandestine
speed labs, and an eleven-fold increase in speed lab busts, as the DEA
and State narcotics enforcement agencies became proficient in tracking
them down (U.S. General Accounting Office Report GGD-82-8 (1981) and
Frank (1983), supra).
February 1980 saw the U.S. scheduling of the main clandestine precursor,
phenyl-2-propanone (aka P-2-P). Within a few years the unregulated
chemical l-ephedrine had replaced P-2-P as the main methamphetamine
precursor, and was being openly advertised in drug magazines such
as "High Times" by 1983. Since P-2-P produces the racemic mixture
(i.e., dl-methamphetamine), and l-ephedrine the more potent d-isomer,
this was actually a step backward, from a law enforcement and public
Tandem legislative efforts culminated in a 1989 Texas State Law (Texas
Health & Safety Code 481.080 - .81) making it a felony to purchase a
round-bottomed flask (and other glassware) without a license ("Science",
263:753 (1994) and "New Scientist", 941022, p. 88).
As a result of the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine, which appears
to be centered in California and Texas, and is strongly correlated with
the Big Four bike gangs (HA's, Bandidos, Pagans, and Outlaws), who both
finance the labs and run the distribution network, what I call the
"Golden Age" of underground chemistry (the period of time when outlaw
chemical and logistic skills had matured, but before law enforcement
tactics had had time to catch up) -- the late 60s to mid 70s -- is over.
[One story I've heard was an HA method from the old days in Northern
California. A 55-gallon steel drum would be filled with a mixture of
P-2-P, methylamine, aluminum foil, etc. The lid was quickly sealed,
and the drum rolled into a mountain stream for cooling. On returning
after three days, if the drum had not exploded, it would now be filled
with raw methamphetamine ready for purification.]
The Sixties bred a generation of "hippie" chemists, smugglers, and
high-level dealers at least superficially motivated by idealism and
the radical rejectionist politics of those turbulent times.
This change in attitude was not lost on the pursuers. As one DEA
forensic expert commented with typically dry understatement: "It
appears that the illicit production of dangerous drugs has become
an intellectual and professional challenge to many individuals
associated with their misuse." (Gunn et al., "Clandestine Drug Labs",
_J.For. Sci._ 15(1):51-64 (1970)).
Changing times and the maturation of law enforcement efforts to
counter the drug threat invariably elicited a "changing of the guard",
as these idealists retired or were busted, and their organizations
In a form of negative evolution, the idealists were replaced by common
criminals, motivated solely by opportunism, and attracted from their
normal anti-social pursuits solely by the easy, and outrageously high
profit margins of drug trafficking, and frequently schooled in jail by
the imprisoned old-timers.
Ironically, the problem had been metastasized by the very efforts of
society to stamp it out.
The end result was an amoral business aggressively pursued by the
government, which could dismantle organizations like a domino game,
rolling over one defendant after another with ruthless efficiency.
A business riddled with informants and marked by endemic internecine
violence, rip-offs, and government-front chemical company sting
[For a detailed and eye-opening snapshot of the "negative
evolution" paradigm, elaborated with respect to marijuana
cultivation in Northern California during the '80s, see
Yves Lavigne's "Good Guy, Bad Guy: Drugs and the Changing
Face of Organized Crime". NY: Random House (1991)]
The wary should note that the mere purchase or attempted purchase of
laboratory equipment and/or chemicals of any type can be considered
"suspicious" unless through an established, legitimate company or
educational institution. The take-down from time to time of labs
run out of university Chemistry Departments -- sometimes even by
faculty members -- testifies to the danger of this sort of shenanigan
even with access through legitimate channels.
Sorry kids, trying to buy chemicals with cash or a money order, or
using a fake letterhead just doesn't cut it anymore. It hasn't for
As a result, the manufacture of controlled substances within the U.S.
is almost exclusively controlled by organized professional gangs
equipped with the financial resources and sophisticated logistics
necessary to successfully challenge the government. The days of the
basement cowboy chemist are long gone.
Between 1977 and 1984, over a dozen papers -- mostly originating
in Europe -- appeared in the literature (_J.For.Sci._ 22:842 (1976),
_J.For.Sci._ 22(1): 40-52 (1971), _Arch.Krim._ 162(5-6): 171-175
(1978), _J.For.Sci._ 23(4): 693-700 (1978), _Bull. on Narc._ 36(1):
47-57 (1984)) on the impurities found in clandestinely-manufactured
Focusing mainly on the Leuckart reaction, which is easy to find in
the literature, and thus popular as a synthetic route, this research
sought to "fingerprint" the output of these labs.
A forensic technique first applied to illicit heroin, the idea is to
quantitatively analyze impurities with a view to determining the
source (ideally by batch, though in practice usually limited only to
synthetic route or geographic locale) of the drugs.
It was determined that the Leuckart reaction in particular was a
veritable witch's brew of incomplete and side reactions, comprising
up to 25% of the final reaction mixture: amphetamine dimers,
pyridones, pyrimidines, pyridines, polycyclic compounds, and N-formyl
Unfortunately, the same legal pressure on precursors that seeks to
root out clandestine production makes the large quantities of organic
solvents necessary for proper purification harder and more dangerous
to get, and forces the use of unsafe procedures, or short cuts that
make use of the final product even more medically dangerous than it
LSD Manufacturing: Boys -- and Girls -- in the 'Hood
"Revolution is the opium of the intellectuals."
The clandestine manufacture of LSD is logistically complex,
requiring a variety of difficult to obtain "watched" chemicals,
and a comparatively sophisticated lab setup. Notwithstanding
the previous statement, like any of the illicit syntheses I
have examined, the reaction, if done in a typical organic chem
laboratory, would be considered routine.
The LSD trade is unique within the drug world, in that those
who are involved seem to be motivated by genuine, if misguided,
As such, there seems to be no violence associated with any level
of the LSD trade, and acid chemists and dealers (and many users)
typically have a semi-mystical, proselytizing reverence for the
substance (cf. PIHKAL). As a result, laboratory busts are rare,
and though user demographics have changed considerably, overall
consumption has remained more or less steady (in the tens of
millions of hits per year), since the late Sixties.
The only detailed discussion I have found on LSD pharmacology from
an illicit chemistry perspective, is "LSD Purity",
an entirely speculative January 1977 "High Times" piece by Bruce
Eisner <firstname.lastname@example.org>, whose major flaw is its lack of hard
Augustus Owsley Stanley III (also known as "Owsley", aka "Owl",
aka "Bear"; he eventually changed his name legally to "Owsley
Stanley") was the first major "acid chemist", and he is considered
a legendary figure from that era by some. His quite colorful
story is chronicled in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" by Tom
Wolfe (Bantam, 1968).
Other substantial pieces on Owsley worth checking out are "The
Creator" ("Newsweek", 680108), and, more recently, "Owsley & Me"
("Rolling Stone", 821125), as well as the chapter, "The Alchemist"
in "Storming Heaven" (infra.).
A recent and fairly lengthy interview with Owsley, in which he
criticizes the accuracy of both "Storming Heaven" and the '82
Rolling Stone piece, may be found in "Conversations with the
Dead: the Grateful Dead Interview Book" (David Gans, N.Y.:
Citadel Underground (1991)). This interview mostly concerns
Owsley's musical background and association with the Grateful
Dead as their soundman and financial patron in their early days
in the '60s.
Another Owsley interview (haven't seen this one) may be found
in the Dead fanzine, "Dupree's Diamond News" No. 25 (August
1993) and No. 26.
Owsley, who first burst onto the public stage when his name was
splashed across the front-page of the "New York Times" (670628 &
670803), was put out of business by his December 1967 arrest at
his suburban Orinda, California lab site with a quarter of a
million hits of LSD and a quarter kilo of STP ("Owsley Guilty:
67.5 Righteous Grams", "Rolling Stone", 691115, p. 14).
Owsley passed the torch to associates Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully,
of "Orange Sunshine" [ALD-52] fame, along with the mysterious
All three were involved with supplying psychedelics to the
Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a loosely-based California hash
smuggling and LSD distribution ring founded in 1966.
ALD-52, 1-acetyl-LSD, was actually the first major "designer drug",
though it being technically legal did not save Scully and Sand
from 20 and 15 year federal prison terms respectively, in 1974.
As disclosed in a 1952 U.S. Patent to Sandoz Pharmaceuticals by
the team of Stoll, Troxler, and (Albert) Hofmann, lysergic acid
is first converted to the diethylamide (LSD) by any of the known
routes, and then acetylated to synthesize ALD-52:
Lysergic acid --> LSD --> 1-acetyl-LSD
With a published potency of 90% of LSD, but at the time completely
legal to possess, Sand and Scully came up with the tentatively
brilliant idea of simply reversing the reaction order in order to
make manufacture legal as well (Tendler & May (infra); "Interview:
Michael Kennedy" [Sand and Scully's lawyer], "High Times" (Jan.
By performing the acetic anhydride acetylation first, followed by
the preparation of the diethylamide, they avoided the illegal LSD
Lysergic acid --> 1-acetyllysergic acid -> 1-acetyl-LSD
Though such reaction flipping is in general of uncertain utility
(it's completely reaction and reactant-dependent), in this case it
works (cf. Johnson (1973)).
And as an unpublished route, effectively Sand and Scully had come
up with a new synthesis of ALD-52 -- which they soon put to use by
manufacturing large amounts of it at a farmhouse lab in Windsor,
California in 1969.
Millions of "Orange Sunshine" hits later, at their 1974 trial in San
Francisco, initially incredulous government chemists quickly recovered
from their shock at the duo's inventiveness, by countering that even
if they hadn't:
1) made LSD, or
2) made LSD at some stage in the reaction,
since ALD-52 was extremely unstable to moisture, and would decompose
to LSD soon after tableting (and, of course, on intake), they were
still criminally liable.
(Though this might seem to be paradoxical to the 90% potency claim,
it isn't if you consider that the Molecular Weight of LSD tartrate
divided by the M.W. of ALD-52 tartrate is about 90%.)
Either way, the Judge promptly threw the book at the hapless pair.
(See Burton Hersh, "The Mellon Family". N.Y.: William Morrow (1978),
p.480-495, for a detailed account of Sand, Scully, Billy Hitchcock,
and his Millbrook estate playground for Timothy Leary).
Like many 60s counter-culture luminaries, Owsley, and later Sand,
allied themselves with fellow outsiders the San Francisco Bay Area
Hells Angels, providing the motorcycle gang with their start in the
lucrative business of synthetic drug wholesaling, and ultimately
methamphetamine manufacturing as well.
The move was quite propitious for the previously aimless sociopathic
group, motorcycle gangs being hierarchically, sociologically, and
logistically ideal for the purpose of large scale drug trafficking.
The first to recognize and exploit this possibility was George "Baby
Huey" Wethern, Vice-President of Sonny Barger's infamous Oakland
chapter of the HAs. Wethern turned state's evidence in 1972, and
testified at the '74 Sand/Scully trial among others. (See the
somewhat self-serving "A Wayward Angel", by George Wethern & Vincent
Colnett. NY: Richard Marek (1978); see also the Michael Kennedy
I know of only two books devoted to the nether-world of illicit LSD
"The Brotherhood of Eternal Love", Stewart Tendler & David May.
London: Panther Books (1984). Out of Print. (I haven't been able
to get my hands on anything but brief excerpts of this book [and would
love to hear from anyone who has a copy], but see "Acid Dreams" by
Lee & Shlain. NY: Grove Press (1985) and "Storming Heaven", by Jay
Stevens. N.Y.: Harper & Row (1987)).
(Tendler covered the "Operation Julie" bust (infra) for the
[London Sunday] "Times", but the "Times Educational
Supplement" (840706, p. 23) roundly criticized this book
as a shallow, simplistic, and inadequate effort.)
(See also: "The Strange Case of the Hippie Mafia", "Rolling
Stone", 721207 & 721221 and "The Brotherhood of Eternal Love:
The Senate Report", "High Times", Fall 1974 for opposing
viewpoints on the scope of the Brotherhood conspiracy.)
"Operation Julie", Dick Lee & Colin Pratt. London: W.H.Allen (1978).
Out of Print. Covers the tracking and 1977 take-down of the U.K.
organization led by Richard Kemp that formed from the regrouping of the
post-indictment remnants of the BEL. The Kemp ring allegedly
manufactured 60% of the world's LSD at the time, amounting to tens
of millions of hits over a several year period.
The motive of the ring's leadership was the expectation that
widespread use of LSD by Britain's youth would catalyze leftist
Revolution, leading to the overthrow of the aging and morally
bankrupt _ancien regime_.
For the temerity of admitting this to post-arrest police, sentences
totaled 170 years in prison.
Their bust was immortalized in the delightful electric guitar/piano
medley, "Julie's in the Drug Squad" by the Clash (on the "Give 'em
Enough Rope" album).
(For newspaper reports on the raid and ensuing trial, see
the [London Sunday] "Times" 770328, p. 2, and especially
780309, p. 1, 8 & 17.)
The most recent LSD bust of note occurred in Bolinas, California in
July 1993, and was the largest seizure of LSD in U.S. history: 1.5
million dosage units bought over a four year period.
Consistent with the unusual patterns associated with LSD trafficking,
not only did the distribution ring consist entirely of women, including
a grandmother in her fifties, but all refused to testify in exchange
for reduced sentences.
A Selected Bibliography on Synthetic Heroin
"T-Bird an' Georgie let their 'gimmicks' go rotten,
So the died of hepatitis in Upper Manhattan,
Sly, in Vietnam -- bullet in the head,
Bobby O.D.ed on Draino on the night that he was wed.
They were two more friends of mine,
Two more friends that *died*."
-- "People Who Died"
Jim Carroll Band (1980)
While speed lab busts were peaking at the end of the '70s, almost
simultaneously two entirely new and different forms of "synthetic
heroin" (synthetic opiates, actually) began appearing commercially
in California, making their presence felt as junkies began dropping
like flies for unknown reasons.
A major public health threat had opened simultaneously on two fronts,
and the term "designer drug" entered the vernacular of a horrified
The "original" China White fentanyl analogue was alpha-methylfentanyl,
which the DEA initially thought was the more potent 3-methylfentanyl.
Fentanyl Analogue Refs:
"Chem. Eng. News" 59:71 (1981) [before they realized it was
alpha and not 3-methyl]
"Fentanyl Program", GFR1-81-4044, DEA (1981), unpublished.
"Control Recommendation for a-MethylFentanyl", DEA (1981)
"Federal Register" 46:46799 (1981) [Notice of Scheduling:
"Anal. Chem" (Oct. 1981) "Behind the Identification of
"Science" 224:1083 (1984)
"Science 85" (March 1985)
Baum, "Chem. Eng. News" 63(36):7-16 (1985), excellent cover
story on designer drugs including fentanyl & MPPP.
"JAMA" 256 (22): 3061-3063 (1986); fentanyl & MPPP.
References on the even higher potency 3-methylfentanyl, whose
initial appearance was in Pittsburgh, and which appeared separately
and much later, than a-methylfentanyl, and also caused some O.D.s
(and a 45-year sentence for the chemist).
3-methyl fentanyl was also the narcotic later made by both Michael
Hovey and George Marquardt.
Monastero in "America's Habit". President's
Commission on Organized Crime (1986)
"New York Times", 881225.
"Eagle", lengthy Marquardt series
"Newsweek", 930621, p.32, Marquardt
Literature cites on MPPP, of Parkinson's Disease fame:
"Psych. Res." 1:249 (1979) [the original
paper, rejected by JAMA & NEJM]
"Science" 219:979 (1983)
Langston, "The Sciences" 25(1):34-40 (1985)
"The Case of the Tainted Heroin" [by the
guy who tracked it down]
"The Case of the Frozen Addict", PBS "Nova",
(1986), transcript of show
Sanford Markey, ed. "MPTP - A Neurotoxin
Producing a Parkinsonian Syndrome" Orlando,
Fl.: Academic Press (1986) [haven't seen
this one; book based on Centers for Disease
"The Case of the Frozen Addicts" Langston &
Palfreman. NY: Pantheon (1995). [You've
seen the PBS show, now read the more detailed
There are lots of other scientific papers available, but
the above-listed are some of the main ones of interest.
Subject: 7. "You Have Greatly Misunderstood the Purpose of the Net"
"Don't get me wrong, Don Juan," I protested,
"...but I also want to know everything I can.
You yourself have said that knowledge is
"No!" he said emphatically. "Power rests on
the kind of knowledge one holds. What is
the sense of knowing things that are useless?"
-- "The Teachings of Don Juan:
A Yaqui Way of Knowledge"
UseNet at its best is a network of some of the brightest minds in the
civilized world, getting together to discuss whatever strikes their
collective fancy. Professors and academics, engineers and scientists,
polymaths, and intelligent people everywhere, getting together to kick
ideas, information, and scurrilous personal attacks back and forth. A
synthesis of great minds and intellects, altruistically donating their
time and effort in glorious cosmic synergy.
However, it's sad to say that, as more and more people go online, the Net
is beginning to reflect the tawdry conglomeration that is society at large.
One mammoth, lowest common denominator, vainglorious, pseudo-intellectual
To put it simply, UseNet may already have peaked.
Trade Secrets, Or "Where Can I get Oil of Sassafras?", "How Do I
------------- Extract Codeine From Tylenol , "Can You
Isomerize Dextromethorphan to the Narcotic Levo Form?"
Just because you ask a question on the Net, does not mean
anyone's going to answer it. Or in particular on alt.drugs --
a newsgroup dominated by drug burn-outs, trollers, poseurs, and
wannabes -- answer it correctly.
You may get an answer to your question, but you can't
realistically expect it when it amounts to a trade
secret. Someone who poses such a question obviously
has a recipe for making MDMA, aka E. The recipe requires
oil of sassafras, or another source of safrole. Needless
to say, the government is aware of this too, and it's
somewhat difficult, though not impossible, to get.
Broadcasting to the world, via UseNet, where to get it,
is a good way to get the government to clamp down on
that source of supply. Why on earth would you expect
anyone to tell you how to get rich (illegally) anyway?
Figure it out yourself, idiot!
The codeine extraction question is another good one,
commonly asked on alt.drugs. Tylenol
Canada, Australia, and elsewhere. Someone was selling
such a recipe for thousands of dollars in New Zealand a
few years back. So why would someone give it to you
for free? Your grasp of philanthropy is deeply flawed,
More importantly, to do that brings us the issue Number 2:
Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
I guarantee that if a simple recipe was posted for something
such as extracting codeine from OTC medications, within
the year, codeine would be prescription-only everywhere.
But then dopers -- being the narcissistic morons that they
are -- have never been particularly known for foresight.
Ditto for isomerizing dextromethorphan, the OTC cough medicine.
Out of chemical interest, I've wondered that myself in the past.
But I don't know the answer, never having been interested enough
to explore the matter.
The fact of the matter, however, is that widely publicizing
certain things -- and the Net is as wide as it gets --
inevitably results in their negation through government
action. I don't say this to stifle people from posting
information, but there is such a thing as discretion, ya know.
[I'm reminded of Abbie Hoffman's omission in his 1970
classic, "Steal This Book", of the "dead baby birth
certificate" method for obtaining false ID. Hoffman
feared that widespread publicity would spur government
action to close what he viewed as an escape hatch for
fugitive radicals. Indeed, by early 1974, Hoffman was
himself on the lam from a cocaine trafficking beef.
Hoffman's self-censorship only delayed the inevitable
however -- the scam was out only a year later in
Frederick Forsyth's 1971 best-selling thriller, "Day
of the Jackal", and a more detailed underground how-to
version, "The Paper Trip" by Barry Reid (Eden Press).
Interestingly, a quarter century later, this latter
volume is still available -- along with a host of
sequels and imitators trying to cash in on the
corrupt and the gullible -- even though the method
is more-or-less defunct.]
Coming in a close second, are those individuals who request
"simple high-yield recipes requiring a minimum of trouble".
Get serious, dudes! TANSTAAFL. More importantly, why would
anyone tell it to you for free?
"Please e-mail me the Answer to my [Stupid] Question"
...Because I'm such a lazy putz that I can't be bothered to
stick around long enough to wade through the regular traffic.
Along with "tell me everything about <Insert_subject_here>"
because you have a homework assignment due tomorrow and are
too dumb or lazy to use the library, this probably ranks as
one of my biggest net.peeves.
"Why Didn't Anyone Answer my [Stupid] Question?"
No, we're not too lazy or too arrogant. Er, well, maybe we are,
but dammit, we're not sitting here waiting around to respond to
whatever minuscule thought percolates through your tiny, 1/4 watt
cerebrum. That's Lamont's job.
Ever hear of a library? It's an amazing place. Medicinal
chemistry is around RM315 if you've graduated past the Dewey
I started posting to the Net on the premise that I should put
back in, for what I've gotten out of the Net. Inspired by the
venerable Bill Nelson, who presides over in rec.pyrotechnics,
I began posting to alt.drugs primarily safety information,
and corrections to inaccurate posts. Other than that, if a
post interests me, time-permitting, I *may* respond. If it
doesn't, I don't. _C'est la vie_.
You're a lot more likely to get a response if you show you've
done your homework -- made some sort of preliminary effort to
investigate the question yourself. I think I first got fed
up with the intellectual parasites that infest alt.drugs (and
much of the rest of the net) when during a lengthy thread on
petroleum ether, some nitwit posted the very same question
we had just finished discussing.
Yes, indeed. A fool's thoughts: the briny well that never
Is the DEA on the Net?
The Internet is what the government-constructed and owned
ARPANET has evolved into.
Of course they're on the Net, fool!
This was definitively confirmed in December 1994 by Lamont. No
surprise here, except among the drug-addled.
Of course, it is also the height of narcissism to think that the
DEA gives a hoot whether you are a dope-smokin' degenerate.
Believe me, they have more important things to worry about.
State and local criminal investigators might, however, be a
More importantly, the fact that you posted a message to alt.drugs
such as, "I'm really baked!" [You're such a clever lad, aren't you?]
may not concern you now. However you may wish to consider the fact
that it's quite probable that someone somewhere is archiving *all*
net traffic, and that in ten or twenty years when you do care, it
may come back to haunt you.
Such is the price of a dissipated youth.
Can I Rely on Net.answers to my Questions?
No. Next question, please.
The Net is a whore that takes on all customers. This is its
bane, as well as its beauty. The nature of alt.drugs makes
it particularly vulnerable to inaccurate, incomplete, and
downright erroneous answers from an assortment of flakes:
poseurs trying to elbow their way to the front of the intell-
ectual line, wannabe-criminals trying to attract sponsorship
by exaggerating their expertise, and pseudo-experts trying to
pump up their flagging egos by marking a corner of the Inner
After all, the One-eyed Man is King in the Land of the Blind.
Such misguided and/or maladapted individuals are most dangerous
when they provide partially correct answers or answers lacking
the appropriate caveats.
Elevating irascibility to an art-form, I've made it a personal
crusade to flame such net.idiots on general principles alone.
On the other hand, past and present alt.drugs Hall-of-Famers such
as J<rest of name deleted by request>, [St.] Anthony Ankrom, and
Lamont Granquist (with an honorable mention to Steve Dyer, Eric
Snyder, Howard Black, Pierre St. Hilaire, Malcolm, and Eli Brandt),
can usually be counted on to provide interesting, useful, and
accurate chemical information.
Their selfless dedication to, and pursuit of the Truth is truly
the Net at its best, and should be an inspiration to all.
Unfortunately, everyone but Lamont and Steve withdrew from posting,
or post only infrequently. Make of that what you will.
But the bottom line, after all, is that you get what you pay for.
If you rely on net.information at face value without independent
confirmation from a reliable source, you do so at your own peril.
Subject: 8. The Law: Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200,000
"Ain't got no picture postcards,
Ain't got no souvenirs,
My baby, she don't know me,
When I'm thinkin' 'bout those years."
-- "New Orleans is Sinking"
The Tragically Hip (1989)
Not surprisingly, it is a serious crime everywhere to make
and distribute drugs. Even less surprisingly, this has failed
to make much of a dent in the manufacture and traffick in such
Since the U.S. is at the forefront of the War on Drugs, I will
concentrate on U.S. statutes only. I no longer follow U.S.
law particularly closely, so some of this information may be
out of date.
The U.S. Federal criminal statutes are found in the U.S.
Code (U.S.C.), located in any North American law library.
The USC may be found in a collection of volumes ("Titles")
called the U.S. Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.).
The drug statutes (possession, conspiracy, and sale),
including Schedules I to V of the Controlled Substances
Act (listing all banned and federally regulated drugs
and precursors) are in Title 21, Sections 800-900 (21
(Interestingly, first offense drug possession is a misdemeanor
in the U.S. under Federal law. Unfortunately, minor
offenders are typically prosecuted under State Law, which
usually makes drug possession a felony.)
Other related Federal criminal statutes are CCE (Continuing
Criminal Enterprise, 21 USC 848), RICO (Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations, 18 USC 1962), and the Controlled
Substance Analog Enforcement Act (21 USC 802.32).
RICO and CCE are the legal bludgeons the Feds use against
drug rings that achieve any sort of success. They are
quite draconian in both scope and harshness.
State law is an entirely different and separate affair from
Federal law and jurisdiction. Each of the fifty states has
its own body of laws, and you can be prosecuted under _both_
federal and state statutes, double jeopardy notwithstanding.
California and Texas are two states which, in tandem with the
level of local lab activity, have a fairly well developed
body of statutes in this area. In particular, state precursor
control laws preceded that of the Feds by well over a decade.
For California State Law (the Health and Safety Code covers
drug-related laws), see:
The long-predicted (Maclean & Pournelle, unpublished (1972) &
Brecher, supra)) rise of synthetic heroin analogues precipitated
the passing in 1986 of the federal Controlled Substance Analogue
Enforcement Act. This closed what had become a major loophole in
prior legislation, the so-called "designer" drugs (pharmacologi-
cally similar, minor chemical variants of banned drugs). Analogues,
however, were not a recent problem. The first open source mention
was Gunn et al. (1970, supra) (cf. Baum (1985), supra).
Finally, the 1988 Chemical Diversion Trafficking Act (21 USC 802.33 -
802.40) placed mandatory import/export/sales reporting requirements
on a slew of precursor chemicals.
Other legal manifestations of the politics of contraband include
laws making money-laundering (18 USC 1956, including failing to
report large cash transactions), and the transportation of
dangerous chemicals on airplanes Federal felonies, as well as
civil forfeiture (21 USC 853 & 881), allowing for the summary
confiscation of a suspected drug dealer's assets with or without
any related criminal conviction.
Income tax evasion, and using the phone (or the Net) to violate
the drug laws are also Federal crimes.
However much you think that drugs are plentiful and peachy-
keen, you would be well-advised to note that manufacture and
organized trafficking are not looked upon kindly. Prosecution
is vigorous and aggressive, and these people don't fool around.
Don't say you weren't warned.
Additionally, the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights
was gutted by the Bail Reform Act of 1984 (upheld by the U.S.
Supreme Court in _U.S. v. Salerno_ (1987)), to allow for pre-
trial detention on the basis of "being a danger to the commun-
ity", against the previous legal standard of mandatory bail
except when there was "risk of flight".
The USC is net.available:
or as gzip compressed files (by Title):
Additions to the list of contraband drugs are announced
in the "Federal Register", a U.S. Government periodical
found in any U.S. or Canadian law library, as well
as any U.S. "Federal depository" public library, or
Updated schedules and ancillary drug regulations may be
found in Title 21 of the CFR, the Code of Federal Regulations.
A current list of proscribed drugs may also be obtained by writing:
Drug Enforcement Administration
Attn: Drug Control Section
1405 "I" Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20537
Subject: 9. Morality & Ethics
"And in between the moon and you,
The angels get a better view,
Of the crumbling difference,
Between wrong and right."
-- "Round Here"
Counting Crows (1993)
I've always been fascinated by the subject of outlaw chemistry.
But radical chic aside, the more I've seen of things, the
less and less happy I've become with the morality of it all.
I've even begun to question the value of that relatively
benign class of substances known as the psychedelics. (What
was it that Ram Dass once said? "Psychedelics have a message
to give, but once you get the message: hang up.")
With the rest, however, -- narcotics, ups, and downs -- the
answer is quite clear. And it ain't a good one.
For no matter how delightful you find the chemistry or the
prospect of easy money and free dope, the fact of the matter
is that the drug business is a sordid, tawdry, and immoral one.
Driven almost entirely by greed, it comes with its own grim
toll of dead, destroyed, addicted, imprisoned, or impoverished
humans: a constellation of suffering and misery which no
decent man should ever want to add to.
I'm not a particularly religious man, but to put it simply:
can you imagine Jesus Christ giving his blessing to your
No matter how you rationalize it, there is no way to escape
the cruel reality that drugs are about two things: money and
power. Amassed through the corrupt exploitation of human
And if they catch you -- and the odds are very much
in favor of that -- you can expect no sympathy at all.
Rank amateur or not, they *will* crucify your sorry ass.
It's a looking glass world, with the dealers and chemists
on one side, and an array of shameless, moral cowards:
the demagogic Republican slime politicians, crooked and
brutal cops, sleazy parasite lawyers, and hypocritical
judges on the other.
And they *all* profit to the detriment of society.
Now, don't get me wrong: criminal sanctions against drug
*users* are clearly not just wrong-headed, but more
importantly, counter-productive. It is fairly obvious, as
the Dutch and Swiss governments, and the highly respected
"Economist" magazine see it, that drug use is a social
problem and public health issue that should be dealt with
Unfortunately, too many have too much invested in the status
Sound public policy is built not through the cynical
manipulations of politicians and two dollar moralists,
but through a careful balancing of harm minimization
to the individual, _as well as_ society at large.
Until society comes to grips with that, the non-medical
use of drugs will remain an intractable scourge that
distorts entire economies, corrupts our institutions
to the core, and frays the social fabric.
However, the base hypocrisy of society cannot and does
not provide moral justification for the manufacture
and distribution of illicit drugs for personal profit.
"How much is enough, when your soul is empty?
How much is enough, in the Land of Plenty?
When you have all you want,
And you still feel *nothing* at all,
How much is enough?
-- "How Much is Enough?"
The Fixx (1991)