The illegal and research chemical markets are flooded with new compounds all the time: substances like 2C-I and 4-MMC invade drug communities before they are put through any sort of testing environment.  This presents quite the moral dilemma for researchers like David Nichols who have made the discovery of new substances their life's work: “"You try to work for something good, and it's subverted in a way.”

Some might argue (a la the work of the ethnobotanist, Sasha Shulgin) that the off-label uses of these psychoactive compounds are not all bad, but the fact remains that people do experience negative consequences from improper use of these compounds.  In Nichols' case, his work inadvertently led to the deaths of at least two people over 20 years ago when one of his discoveries managed to escape the lab and be reproduced illicitly:

“He published his study, found little interest from pharmaceutical companies in his chemical, called MTA, and moved on…People [tried it]. They took too much. Their brains were flooded with serotonin, and they died.”

Despite Nichol's regret, it would seem that the problem resides in the system, not the compounds or the researchers who design them. The illegality of these substances prevents proper testing, oversight, and distribution of these chemicals in the public arena.


Image by formatbrain on Flickr Courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.