Internet 'legal highs' contain banned substances

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Beware of buying 'legal highs' from the internet - many don't have the claimed ingredients, and some contain controlled subtances, analysis shows.

And anyone that finds this encouraging should think again; the controlled substances involved really aren't likely to be many people's idea of fun.

Dr Mark Baron, of the UK's University of Lincoln, bought a range of tablets from different websites to see what each contained. It was easy, he says: numerous websites market a broad variety of products advertised as research chemicals, bath salts, or plant food - but clearly marketed at recreational drug users.

"No guidelines exist as to what is sold, and in what purity, and consumers are led to believe that purchased goods are entirely legal," says Baron.

"It is clear that consumers are buying products that they think contain specific substances, but that in reality the labels are unreliable indicators of the actual contents."

Baron bought MDAI, 5-IAI, Benzo Fury and NRG-3 from www.benzofury.me.uk and two MDA-labelled samples from www.VIPlegals.com and www.wide-mouth-frog.com.

Six out of seven products did not contain the advertised active ingredient more disturbingly five samples contained the controlled substances benzylpiperazine and 1-[3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]piperazine combined with caffeine. These can have effects including psychosis, kidney failure and seizures.

"These findings show that the legal high market is providing a route to supply banned substances," says Baron.

"As legislation deals with the current crop of products we can expect to see new products appearing that try to find a route of supplying previously banned substances."