Popular Synthetic Drug Simple to Obtain From China, Experts Say

The popular synthetic drug methylone, a key ingredient in “bath salts,” is simple to order online from China, experts tell The Virginian-Pilot.

In one recent case that ended up in federal court, two Virginia men emailed a lab in China, wired several thousand dollars to an English-speaking customer service representative and received 100 pounds of the drug in the mail, according to the newspaper.

“It’s probably easier than buying a case of wine online,” said Richard Yarow, an attorney for a man who pleaded guilty to assisting one of the importers wire money to China. “When you buy wine you at least have to show ID” upon delivery, he added.

Methylone is a white crystalline powder. In addition to being used to make bath salts, it also can be snorted, swallowed or mixed into drinks. The drug costs about $350 per ounce on the street. Importers charge $2,600 to $4,000 per pound.

Methylone was legal in most places in the United States until recently, and was sold online and in some gas stations and head shops. Some states began banning synthetic drugs last year, and more have followed suit this year.

Earlier this month, President Obama signed legislation that bans synthetic drugs. The law bans harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs such as those used to make synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

Bath salts are marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky” or “Bliss.” The drugs mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD, Ecstasy and/or methamphetamine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes. Bath salts have become increasingly popular among teens and young adults.

Packages sent to the United States are subject to inspection, but drug-sniffing dogs usually cannot detect methylone and other synthetic drugs, according to federal agents. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection told the newspaper they cannot prevent people from ordering things off the Internet.

    User Picture

    Nikki JOHNSON

    July 27, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    The data suggests most people are law-abiding. Having laws is a deterrent, albeit never 100%. There are people who may think they would benefit from marijuana, but won’t imbibe due to its legal status. The analogy to murder is illogical. According to that logic, because prohibitive laws are not an 100% deterrent, there should be no laws. You could as well blame this problem of analogs on capitalism and its best friend greed, as with having prohibitive laws.
    Real people who are loved by other real people suffer and die with the freedom to do what they want with their bodies. That concerns me as a human being.

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    Barry Williams

    July 23, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    Prohibition has no chance of working. The only thing that will work is allowing everyone the freedom to do with their lives and their bodies (both granted by God to the recipient) as long as no harm is done to another person. When that harm occurs, throw the book.

    New technology and a greater number of educated persons coupled with an infinite number of chemical compounds means that there will always be novel intoxicants on the market.

    I find it remarkable that people don’t recognize the fact that prohibition of a human activity is never successful. If it was, there would be NO murder.

    If there were never a prohibition on marijuana, there may have never been the research that discovered thousands of analogs. If marijuana were legal to use and there wasn’t such unwarranted hysteria over its use by teens, there would be no incentive to find “legal” analogs to get around the ban.

    Finally, while nothing used to excess is good (including such mundane compounds as water) using drugs for recreation is not necessarily bad either. Human desire to alter the perception of reality is ingrained and can be seen in the simple act of a child spinning around and falling down and laughing at the world spinning around instead.

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