Erowid analyzed marijuana substitutes a few months ago:
In the market now, it is difficult to tell good snake oil from bad snake oil, effective from ineffective, or dangerous from well-known. There are dozens of research chemicals currently available online or in head shops. They are sold as "legal highs", and often, whether implicitly or explicitly, positioned as replacements for a particular illegal drug like psilocybin mushrooms or cocaine. Some contain chemicals brand new to the recreational markets, while others are just caffeine.
Along with being sold as party pills and illegal drug stand-ins, some are sold as potpourri, incense, bath salts, plant food or plant growth inhibitors, dewormers, and room deodorizers. There is a swirling blizzard of new products.
... The marketing of untested drugs to the general public is a service we shouldn't need. If cannabis were legal, Spice wouldn't exist. The repercussions of getting caught with a clearly illegal substance can be huge, including the possibility of losing federal financial aid for college. Once a person has made the decision to experiment with psychoactive drugs, a fairly rational evaluation of the risks and benefits will lead some to order Spice or Ivory Wave instead of buying cannabis or alcohol if underage.
Jason Kuznicki adds:
Drugs didn’t do this. The war on drugs did. A legal, regulated, above-board recreational drug market would do a lot to end it.
(Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)