According to David Nutt’s ISCD, 40 new research chemicals (recreational drugs) appeared in the UK last year. And if this article in Vice magazine is to be believed ( if.. ) a fair proportion of them were all created by one underground genius, quite literally single handedly.
There are medicinal chemists who work on an unseen side of the pharmaceutical industry. Like their legally sanctioned counterparts, they work to synthesize drugs they hope will produce therapeutic effects in their users. But they do not work with billion-dollar budgets or advertising agencies; doctors are not bribed to distribute their products with ergonomic pens or fine terrycloth beach towels. Their advertising comes solely from word of mouth and semicautionary articles like the one you are about to read.
The creation of these chemicals is an extraordinary feat of interdisciplinarity; often the pharmacologist, the chemist, the posologist, the toxicologist, and the experimental animal are all the same human being. This is the way drugs have been developed since the beginning of medical history—it is only in recent years that the practice of self-experimentation has become stigmatized, and accordingly these experimenters, like M., must remain shrouded in mystery.
They coyly refer to the chemist in question as M, but all but identify, by telling us he lost a hand as child after an IRA bombing in London. An incident which he identifies as starting him on this path:
Vice: How did your interest in the chemistry of dissociatives begin?
M.: Well, when I was a young boy, only 13, I was badly hurt in an IRA bombing in London. My left hand had to be amputated after the explosion, and I knew I’d lived through a psychological stress that most people cannot even conceive. I would definitely say this triggered my interest in altered states. When you lose a limb, especially when the limb is exposed to serious trauma before the loss, there is a significant chance you’ll be left with an agonizing phantom limb.
There then follows a interesting interview which doesn’t shy away from the chemistry or the sociology of what it is like to be a research chemist in the quasi-legal world of designer recreational drugs. In the grand tradition of Hoffmann and Shulgin, M. also experimented initially on himself. although this didn’t always go well. With at least one admittance to the mental health system. He seems recovered now and provides an articulate account of what it is like to be a Arylcyclohexylamine chemist.