05-05-2017, 04:01 PM
Quote:The users of Drugs Forum were intrigued. One Thursday in August of 2006, a man going by the name of Thirdedge logged onto the website that for more than 15 years has provided users of psychedelics with a place to share their experiences. Thirdedge had been experimenting with Spice – a new "legal high" marketed as an alternative to cannabis. "It seems to be the only one of these type of products that is really effective," he wrote.
At the time, legal highs had a reputation for uselessness. In particular, the herbal blends sold as marijuana substitutes offered users little more than a possible placebo effect and a head rush from any tobacco with which they were smoked. Spice was different.
Thirdedge wanted answers. The listed ingredients on the packet – plants with names such as Blue Lotus, Indian Warrior, Dwarf Skullcap and Siberian Motherwort – were not previously known to produce psychedelic effects. Thirdedge proposed two theories. "One or a combination of the above ingredients is a DECENT cannabis alternative," he wrote. "Alternatively the product could be mislabeled and contain something completely different?"
Such speculation did little to dampen enthusiasm for Spice. Positive reviews flooded in. One user said Spice was "even more trippy" and "lasted even longer" than marijuana. Another wrote: "Spice is like skunk without the bad bits." It hardly seemed to matter that nobody knew why. All anyone knew for sure was that Spice worked.
It would be more than two years before researchers in Germany discovered the truth. The active ingredient in Spice was synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 – a chemical compound designed to replicate the effects of marijuana. Spice was no herbal high, but a potent new designer drug.
The authorities moved quickly to ban Spice, but their efforts did little to stop the drug's spread. While some producers stopped trading, others had alternative compounds ready and waiting. A game of cat and mouse ensued, with manufacturers responding to each successive ban by launching new drugs that remained within the law. A pattern soon emerged, whereby the effects of the drugs became further and further removed from those of the original product.
Just over ten years since it first emerged, Spice is seen as one of the greatest drugs threats facing the UK. It has been described as a "blitzkrieg" upon the homeless population and is being linked to an increasing number of deaths. It is a major factor in a crisis engulfing the prison system. Drugs workers have described it as "worse than heroin". In recent weeks, videos have emerged of users stood motionless in town and city centres, prompting tabloids to warn of a Spice epidemic and decry the terrifying effects of this so-called "zombie" drug.
FULL ARTICLE: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/the-s...going-away