Easy internet availability and next-day delivery have lifted legal highs to a prominent position in the dance and party culture despite concern that these chemicals are untested and unknown.
On Friday, the The Home Office moved another substance from the "legal" list to the "illegal" when it classified the "legal high" naphyrone, also called NRG1, as a Class B drug as part of an ongoing struggle to stem the availability and use of substances with "no known legitimate use". The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has shown that naphyrone could be 10 times more potent than cocaine.
"Legal highs … are quite sophisticated chemically and are intentionally designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs. The important thing to say is that legal doesn't mean safe," types Andy on Andydrugscope chat on Site.org, one of the many sites set up by concerned authorities to inform people of the state of play with legal highs and other contemporary pastimes.
Legal highs are legal because they are sold under the pretext of being plant food or "not for human consumption".
The clubbers and party-goers taking the legal highs (and other stimulants) have informal ways of sharing their experiences of the quality of the substances and their effects. There are many information-sharing outlets on the internet where they discuss differences between highs, safety issues and risks as well as chemical knowledge and the reliability of suppliers.
There is an array of videos on YouTube showing people during their drug-taking session. A lot are filmed as voyeuristic fun. There are many rants and also calm deliberations straight to camera.
YouTube has removed at least one set of videos. The poster, whose videos were filmed while taking a variety of drugs, complained, on another YouTube post, that he no longer had this information, which would be of value to others.
Many posts on YouTube, and elsewhere on the web, are given by qualified chemists.
Some experts say it is now impossible to know what you are taking because as soon as one compound is outlawed, another slightly different one takes its place.