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WEDINOS UPDATE IMPORTANT
#1
Please see that latest update from WEDINOS this is very important for anyone submitting samples.  Any questions please comment in this thread and if I cant answer them I will make sure they are directed to WEDINOS for consideration.

The statement below has been added to wedinos website news article:
 
Please note that as of Monday 4th April 2016 we will no longer be analysing individual samples that, on the effects sheet only provide details of purchase intent stated as ‘legal high’ or ‘research chemicals’.  It is an important element of WEDINOS that we are able to provide information both on what individuals intended to purchase and the actual content of the sample substance.  When submitting a sample, please ensure that you include as much information as possible around what you intended to buy on the sample and effects record as well as effects experienced if the sample was consumed. If the sample was not consumed include your reason for submission. Many thanks.
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#2
I thought you were going to say it was shutting there!

This was highlighted to them on twitter when they released their 2015 report - a shame that they have to do this, but hopefully it will greatly improve the quality of the data they collect. Also a shame that they didn't respond to let anyone know they weren't ignoring their feedback.

Now if only they would analyse the "cannabidiol" I sent last month.
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#3
I can understand their logic and their intentions, but the devil is in the details here. I can see some potential repercussions of declining to analyse samples the purchase intention of which being described in vague or non-explicit language. Most of my reservations are perhaps not directly pertinent to the primary remit or the responsibilities of WEDINOS as a 'warning beacon' for newly emerging psychoactive substances, but they are immediately relevant to me from an end user perspective and a harm reduction perspective, and perhaps worthy of consideration from a data gathering perspective also. Some thoughts, in no particular order.

1. Refusal to process any submission that fails to clarify what the user sought to purchase may have the unintended effect of limiting access to the service only to the self-declared owner, buyer or user of a specific substance. I'm aware that services are provided to local authorities in Wales; it is open to debate whether the service should be made available for harm reduction reasons (and if so whether to do so is within the remit of WEDINOS) to persons besides the self-declared owner or buyer of the drug. Scenarios I have in mind are e.g. teacher, parent or care worker finds an unidentifiable substance in circumstances where it's quite possibly not innocuous and quite possibly not criminal either. In general principle, I would wish such persons to be able to ascertain the nature of such substance (which might transpire to be NPS, diverted POM, classical illegal or common salt) before deciding what were the correct approach to harm reduction. This may not be by throwing in the bin/down the toilet something that a fortnight later comes to harm someone, and it may also not be by presuming every unidentified substance to be a criminal matter. Thus, whether it be the remit of WEDINOS or not, I believe that it would be desirable to identify submitted substances even where the intent is unknown or no comment and to consider that there is a probable harm reduction benefit to accurate identification of a substance when it provokes concern, whether or not the user is willing or able to be specific about what a substance was expected, believed, purported or contracted to be.

2. Besides "reasonable" submissions from persons other than the user, how does this policy sit with the unfortunate reality of brand-name unidentified NPS from head shops that change formulation and content according to what's not yet banned, whether the inglorious mixtures in powder or pill form (Charge, GoGaine, FormulaX, M&Ms), the initially branded but not identified single NPS (think mexedrone recently, or historically the explosion of, oh yeah, eXplosion, which transpired to be methylone. Of course, our responsible community of psychonauts wouldn't need to identify any of these, but let's not pretend there's any sanctimonious distinction between NPS and people doing as they have done since time immemorial: taking drugs. Which begs the question: is it always customary for the user of a drug to possess knowledge or specific belief about that drug? People surely don't just buy a pill in a club, or a blotter at a festival, or a baggie in a headshop without knowing what's in it, do they? Of course they do, or the case for the testing service that WEDINOS provides from a user point of view would collapse.

3. This leads to another awkward truth. We're aware WEDINOS doesn't exist for the purpose of testing known, claimed or believed illicit substances (neither does this forum) and that it is unlawful knowingly to send controlled substances through the post. We do not suggest that we can change that. But the fact will remain (for as long as prohibition does, anyway) that some amount of such things will find their way to a testing laboratory. There will be occasions when the presence of a controlled drug in a supposedly lawful product will honestly be new information to a user who didn't knowingly send anything of the sort (and, obviously, there will be occasions where users send things in the suspicion that they damn well should be illegal, too). So, sure, that's not the remit of WEDINOS, where one knows full well what something is. But we have the de facto issue that almost by definition, many of the drugs sent for identification are unknown and some may have been misrepresented to and/or by the user. Referent to the current policy, to disallow vague language is likely to encourage positive misrepresentation and not necessarily for immoral or improper reasons or in contravention of the laws concerning the postal service. 

For instance (hypothetical) let's suppose a user were offered some blotters of a substance claimed by the source to be something implausible, I dunno, let's assume that our source swears it's "the original orange sunshine", which one might take to be a (claim of being) something lysergic and potentially illegal. For as long as our user considers this to be the case, it's not a matter for WEDINOS either legally or practically, but, what happens if he doesn't? Clearly we might assume that the purchase intent (in such hypothetical scenario) would fall into unlawful territory, and if the user were frank enough to write down 'acid' or something more specific, he might expect that to be rejected as inappropriate. Now we've a couple of problems; it's not as if we haven't seen potent NPS passed off as LSD with adverse results, so our user has a reasonable concern about what's on his blotter that's well within the scope and extent of early warning systems and projects looking to monitor NPS. We would wish any suspect blotters, pills or blends to come to light, irrespective of the language of the purchase intent of the user.

Herein we have our second problem; to report accurately one needs honest information. The responsible psychonaut would not dream of tarnishing the unblemished good name of the various presently lawful psychedelics by purporting that he'd bought one of those when he hadn't, but that will be one risk factor (effectively, someone being less than honest about their intent provoking early warning mechanisms to cry 'wolf' about what is being sold as what). He can't truthfully declare the intended substance (assuming it was illicit) without knowingly contravening your submission rules and possibly the laws on what he may post. This already makes rather awkward the sort of submissions that (in my estimation) we might most benefit from WEDINOS seeing in HR terms. 

4. This relates, indirectly, to the fallacy of "controlled drugs". Those of us who buy our NPS from trusted vendors by considered intention tend to be in possession of sufficient, multiple sourced, trusted testimony and an adequate idea of allergy testing, and would probably trust blotters bought as described above like a hole in the head. Yet people have, and people do. We need not point out that the risk is just as present with pills as it is with blotters. Of course, we can join with the school of thought that makes an unperson of anyone who takes an illicit drug; that school of thought denies responsibility both for promoting safety and education among 'those people' and ignores the tragic evidence as to the increasing harms (and the increasing number of avoidable deaths) from contaminated drugs in direct consequence and by the sole cause of increased prohibitions. Needless to say, I don't expect deaths involving two conveniently illegal substances and no NPS to be within the remit of organisations focused on monitoring and flagging up the potential harms of the aforesaid NPS. Whilst that is itself a useful service and I seek to cast no aspersions at the good people of WEDINOS, it carries some risks if the scope of what we record, test or assess is limited by that which suits a predetermined agenda and not the de facto reality. I do understand that the remit of WEDINOS is NPS; however, you have only to look at the consequences of the blanket ban in Ireland (the death statistics will do) to realise an intentionally narrow or blinkered focus towards NPS does not seem to achieve the intended effects in terms of harm reduction. I digress, however, the debate is not about whether we should openly test (possible) illegals but about whether users of a testing service must be honest and specific about that which they have bought. My worry above about controlled drugs is that if 25I-NBOME can make it on to blotters sold as LSD, then (God forbid) one of the ultrapotent cannabinoids can make its way into cheap, crappy hashish that's probably more available to your average 15-year-old than is alcohol. To be honest, a testing service pitched at those in the greatest need should in an ideal world be willing to identify the content of a substance the description of which is no more informative than "sh*t", "sniff", "pill" or other similarly unhelpful identifier. Of course, that's not what you should expect from around here, but if a testing service is to reach its intended audience then the barriers to using it need to be lowered, not raised.

So to get back to the matter of vague language and the present announcement, our user in the psychedelic example has a perverse incentive to mislead you to get his sample tested (but that isn't good for anyone); I'd prefer a service that sometimes understood the integrity in a "no comment" or an intentionally vague choice of language where the interests of harm reduction suggest it. If I know what a substance was purported to be then I will make a specific assertion (and if I don't then I probably won't use it), but I am not everyone. 

Simply put, rule out a phrase like 'legal highs' and tell me precisely what purchase intent users of headshop blends of unknown content ought to declare. Maybe we could get as far as a broad statement of intent such as 'stimulant', 'sedative' but nobody is unaware of "plant food" or "bath salts", perhaps "legal high" is the most honest statement of purchase intent possible. Rule out a term such as 'research chemical' and you may rule out submissions that are in exactly that state of knowledge and familiarity, where you could be of maximal benefit. Disallow that which requests your help but is non-specific as to purchase intent and you may rule out those who aren't sure, those who've a good idea and with it a good reason to seek validation yet are unwilling or unable to be completely transparent. I do not see how this will gather better data by way of excluding any submission that fails to conform to the narrowing focus on such data as you determine to collect, versus such substances as may be presented to you for testing. You also invite users who understand that you may reject their submission, either for being vague or for telling the truth, simply to dissimulate as to their intentions, which offers lesser accuracy than users being vague when they intend to be vague and specific when they intend to be specific (in my view). It might be possible to add in and to derive useful data from options such as "I don't know, that's why I'm asking you.", "Sold to me expressly as", "Alleged to be..." and "No comment". Some will use them, of course, but would that make the resultant data less useful or less accurate? I submit not.

One (well, two) final points about getting bogged down in semantics or nomenclature and the realities on the ground. Take, for instance, a term such as "legal hash" (no, I'm not referring to the Psychoactive Substances Bill!) a term that is both descriptive of intent and useless as to content in equal measure. Off the top of my head, whilst we're talking about a presumably narcotic substance in presumably solid form that will presumably (albeit not exclusively) be consumed by smoking, in the same breath I've known the term to be applied to such a product derived entirely from hops, to another such derived from wild lettuce, to another derived from wild dagga and Siberian motherwort, I believe at one point there were variants containing salvia divinorum (ouch); these days it's often applied to an inert base pitched unsurprisingly at synthetic cannabinoids and, one imagines, to the same product having been rendered active with whatever choices(s) of active ingredients suit the maker. The term means everything and nothing; of course if it was bought as specific extracts then the responsible person will say so, but in many cases the user will know what it is implied that you might be able to do with it, and not much else. Were one to take that to its logical conclusion, there would be a risk of giving an almost self-defeating message of "if you don't know what you bought, don't ask us" to those who would most benefit from better information. I need no reassurance that that is far from our collective intention; I am less sure (personal opinion, not unilateral assertion) that such an aim would be achieved by more rules on precisely how much one must be able to declare what one bought and more rejected submissions from those who have made at least some effort to seek the expertise of WEDINOS.

The second part of "what's in a name" is that there are cases where even the specific identification of compounds by the user and by WEDINOS alike does not serve to clarify a potential harm reduction issue affecting consumers of NPS. Admittedly this is a sample of one, but the last thing that I sent in for analysis was a batch of 4F-MPH that showed approximately one quarter of the anticipated potency (in multiple users and having disproven tolerance with trivial doses of other phenidates). The vendors duly verified it as 4F-MPH and so did WEDINOS, so 4F-MPH in some form I accept that it was. It was for me sub-threshold at 50mg, threshold around 60mg and approaching an effective dose at 100mg. Shortly thereafter, I received some 4F-MPH from another vendor, whose product had likewise been validated by them and subsequently by WEDINOS as 4F-MPH, so again, in some form I accept that it was. My experience of the second batch, however, was that a 25mg dose was closely and reproducibly comparable with a 100mg dose of the first batch, and a 40mg dose produced markedly stronger effect than had 160mg of the first batch. Sample of one; the point here is that users declaring what they bought is well and good, and WEDINOS confirming a name for the substance and an absence of adulterants is good, but classifying and reporting on NPS is by and large an abstraction of statisticians. The identification of substances as would best suit the harm reduction interests of drug users willing to submit samples for testing depends upon more than just a substance name from either side. 

One might consider that by the time I determine to submit a substance to a testing service, then by definition what I may believe/know/assert about the identification of that substance is at best of little confidence. I've no problem declaring what it was sold as, but, by the time I request testing I am interested in the findings of the laboratory more than in my own belief or in the assertions of my sources, as the case may be. Scientifically speaking, one might even suggest that perhaps I should not declare what I believe a substance to be or submit it in packaging that asserts what it professes to be, as this could encourage a confirmation bias or a preference towards simplistic testing on the part of the technicians; from a user point of view one could make a case for blind analysis, though not for blindness in general.

Before concluding, I must distinguish two threads to what I seek to say. I am a strong believer in testing services, I'd like to see WEDINOS flourish (within the sphere of education and harm reduction) and I'm among the users who would gladly provide detailed information and substantial cooperation to such a service - but this would be relevant only if the time, the resources, the will and the interest are there to provide the academic answers to questions of which the empirical answers are often well established. For instance, it might be academically interesting to reconfirm my own findings of two batches of 4F-MPH and resubmit samples of each to comprehend the differences in structure and in SAR, but given that both batches are a few months old, the empirical differences are known and most vendors are known to have restocked, so it might serve the academic and scientific interest but is by now of tenuous relevance to any risk to end users. On a serious note, whilst I don't like 'two tier' systems, many of us could gladly provide substantial cooperation and intelligent questions along with it, insofar as that is welcomed or there are the resources for it.

Now for the fork in the road. My honest reaction to the WEDINOS announcement, as a consumer of psychoactive substances and an occasional and (in principle) friendly user of the WEDINOS service, particularly in view of the timing, is one of acute cynicism and a degree of hostility and mistrust; this is because it entirely stinks of the fallacy of prohibition and I fear that the prevailing ideology is being suffered to overtake the science. One could imagine them having received a missive from the Home Office declaring that from April 6th there would be no such thing as "legal highs", because they said not, and one could imagine it having been intimated that it might be viewed as 'unhelpful' (to the ideological War on Drugs) for scientists in respected academic institutions to continue henceforth to report accurately on the submissions they receive use language that is 'off-message'. Having witnessed the decapitation and subsequent castration of the ACMD, one could only sympathise with scientists in such a predicament, but that does not diminish my concerns about increasingly selective testing and reporting.

Just as cynically, albeit open to intelligent discussion, one might surmise that the apparent preference for testing substances that have been consumed and that come with a completed effects record will inherently favour generating data that only supports the foregone conclusions of the Psychoactive Substances Bill; it generates data supporting the conclusion that a substance gets people high and should be banned or that a substance gets people hurt and should be banned. Absent those cases, scientific evidence is a terrible inconvenience to those whose minds are made up, so no doubt it would be awfully appreciated in ministerial circles if you'd kindly tailor your testing and reporting to fit the justification narrative that will be required. By the same logic, perhaps there's no value in seeking to promote the safety of any drug user who isn't telling us exactly what we should be policing. Perhaps one should simply say "highs doubleplusungood; legal highs crimethinkful". Drugs are bad, m'kay? Right, well that's that settled then. 

Of course, this scathing interpretation is not the one that I would like to make; if the good people of WEDINOS should wish to explain their reasoning and the unfortunate coincidences of timing then my mind is not made up and my preference is for cooperation, but I trust it will not be hard to see why I might be gravely concerned at the implications of such a policy. 

Finally, as to the request of "if the sample was not consumed include your reason for submission", logic suggests that a reason of "I wish to identify the substance" could be presumed inadequate, as this is rather obvious. Can we still assume that the services of WEDINOS remain available to users such as ourselves with the intention of establishing the identity of a substance that we might or might not have an intention to consume pending such identification, or should we comprehend that the function and the remit of WEDINOS is in the name; the detection and identification of emerging drugs in a climate where the prevailing wind is clear. More bluntly, what assurances can be given that we are not directly shooting ourselves in the foot by using a testing service with such a policy? Do we remain on roughly the same page as regards harm reduction through information and education, or are we lurching towards harm reduction through don't-bother-me-with-the-facts-drugs-are-bad and blow any evidence that doesn't prove what I say?

With the usual disclaimer: opinions herein are those of the author, and not those of UKCR.
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#4
Some very good points raised here with little else to say. 

While their intentions are good and it seems clear they haven't got the funding and/or experience to carry out a full analytical profiling of each sample they test. Especially when dealing with novel compounds with no reference point to start from.

Just look at the data produced from the EU-funded NPS analytical testing body, codenamed "Project RESPONSE" partly based in Slovenia. They use multiple analytical techniques to verify the compound in question, as using 1 or 2 will very likely lead to a miss identification, the best thing is that all the setting for each machine is described as these can make or break the data you get. 

The sample of 4F-MPH they tested, was correctly found to be impure, and they had a speculative guess as to what the impurity was. If only they had the funds to purchase an expensive Prep-HPLC column, they would of been able to separate the impurity from the product. If only they had ran the Mass Spectrometer in negative ion mode they would have found it right away with the equipment they had...

Notice that in the solubility tests they used water for 4F-EPH but not 4f_MPH (which i know it's fully soluble in) 

Another piece that gives us a clue are the IR spectra for 4F-MPH on (page 6) and compare to the IR spectra of a clean sample of  4F-EPH (page 5) you'll notice the addition of another carbonyl vibration the in 4f_mPH sample at wavelength ~1700 cm-1.

 With the data presented, I'll have a stab in the dark and put forward 4F-Ritalic acid as the impunity.
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