31 October 2010

6-APB Briefing

Although you won’t know it from visiting Frank, Drug Discussion forums and on-line drug retailers have been a-buzz since the Summer, excitedly discussing and promoting the latest “legal high” – 6-APB. As with Mephedrone before it, the lack of reliable and factual information, especially analysis, is once again creating a hugely unsafe environment. This briefing attempts to summarise the current confused situation.
6-APB is short for 1-benzofuran-6-ylpropan-2-amine or 6-(2-aminopropyl)benzofuran. Unfortunately, due to the drug containing the benzofuran molecular ring, some on-line retailers decided to give it the name benzo-fury. This is confusing as 6-APB is not an benzodiazepine, and shares none of the effects of a benzodiazepine. So the slang name is deeply unhelpful. The more sensible of the drugs discussions forums have tried have some influence here by refusing to use the term ‘benzo fury,’ but despite this it is listed for sale on many sites by this name. There is no relationship between “benzo-fury” and the (currently) unrestricted benzodiazepine phenazepam which is being flogged on some sites. The latter is really a benzo and 6-APB isn't!

There is a molecularly very similar product 6-APDB or 6-(2-Aminopropyl)-2,3-dihydrobenzofuran. This product has been offered for sale by vendors aswell as or instead of 6-APB. In the absence of laboratory analysis it is not possible to say which of these products has been actually sold – or in truth it is either of these products.

Early suggestions are that retailers initially may have believed that they were selling 6-APDB but early forum discussion raised concerns about the legality of 6-APDB and the suggestion that many people experience severe nausea when coming up on 6-APDB. This may have led to the conclusion that marketing 6-APB was an easier proposition.

Routes and Effects:
The very few credible trip reports for 6-APB suggest that the drug is a relatively powerful psychedelic drug causing significant visual distortion. It has been described as more MDA-like than MDMA – so less energetic and more trippy. Users also report MDMA-type effects such as gurning and urine-retention.

It has been snorted and swallowed; some reports suggest that swallowing is more effective. Dose ranges have been at around the 100mg mark.

The available evidence suggests the drug causes elevation of serotonin levels (probably by blocking reuptake) with low levels of impact on nor-adrenaline and dopamine levels.

The early reports indicated effects from 4-6 hours with little urge to redose during or afterwards.

The early users who wrote trip reports were very positive about their experience.

Availability and Supply:
These early reports, dating back to July triggered a significant interest in 6-APB and attention turned to a number of on-line vendors who claimed that they would have the drug in stock shortly, some of whom were taking advanced orders. As has become more common with some of the on-line vendors, some distributed samples, especially to those people who were writing trip-reports or would otherwise promote the drug.

Since then a number of companies have offered to supply a range of products, under the name 6-APB. A quick trawl suggests between 10 and 20 online vendors all offering products of different appearance. It is not clear how many, if any of these contain 6-APB.

User reports of many of the products being sold range from non-active products, through those which have a low level of potency, up to reports of people being sold very long-lasting stimulants with unpleasant side effects. There is little consistency either in terms of the products sold or reported effects.

Appearance of 6-APB:
Early supplies of drugs reported to be 6-APB and used in early trip reports discussed a tan-coloured powder. However, later on this was replaced by an off-white, creamy coloured powder. None of the early reports described a crystalline white powder.

After the initial availability of powder, the products that came to market were either “pellet” form or capsule form. And at this point the supply side and the discussion side both seemed to go in to what can only be described as melt-down.

Discussions, partly it seems fed by vendors, talked about “official” 6-APB supply chain and so a distinction started to emerge between “official -6-APB” and other stuff. It should be stressed at this point that the idea of “official” or “authorized retailers” in the context of any so-called legal high is bogus. There is no quality control or monitoring body. It’s all equally unofficial.

The pellet forms of 6-APB sold in a professionally produced foil bag were orange in colour; some had a chemical, TCP-esque smell. The alleged dose range was 100mg. Pelletised drugs bring a couple of new challenges – they make it harder to take an initial “allergy test” sample to check for bad reactions. And they increase the chances that people will take several pills in a sitting, and thus increase dosing in 100mg increments, increasing the risks of overdose.

Since then a large range of capsules have been marketed and sold as 6-APB. These have included red capsules, blue capsules, translucent capsules, orange ones and so on. The early availability of red and blue capsules and fierce arguments about which were better led to some commentators referencing the Matrix. Either way, the consensus was that the capsules did not contain 6-APB and the actual contents were unknown. There is at least one trip-report of a person who, taking white capsules containing a white powder sold as 6-APB had very negative, long acting effects off it more akin to a strong stimulant than 6-APB.

The bottom line at present has to be the vast majority of compounds being sold as 6-APB do not contain this drug. There is no evidence that any of the capsules being sold contain this drug. The odds are that if you go to an on-line vendor and attempt to buy this drug you will not receive 6-APB.

What is being sold as 6-APB:
Quite simply, we don’t know. A report in August 2010 published in Drug Testing and Analysis titled “Analyses of second-generation ‘legal highs’ in the UK: Initial findings“ analysed a range of products being sold by online retailers and found that the majority contained now-banned compounds such as mephedrone or relatively low-acting stimulants such as caffeine. Unfortunately this research was conducted before the upsurge in sales of 6-APB so these were not analysed.

So we cannot be certain what is in any product being sold as 6-APB including those tested early on and described as more MDMA-esque.

Reducing Harm:
It is difficult to offer harm reduction information when we know so little about what is being sold, or the risks attached to that substance. So harm reduction information needs to be loosely couched to ensure it is relevant not just to the substance allegedly being sold, but also likely substances being sold in its place.
• If using powders swallow rather than snorting;
• If using a new substance take a small amount first. Take a very small amount (e.g. no more than 10mg) as an “allergy test” to check for unexpected adverse reactions; wait at least an hour. If there are no adverse effects use a larger dose if you are still convinced you want to.
• You should use on-line forums to assess the range of doses being sampled and start at the low end of this range. And then half this. So for example if people are using a substance at the 100-150mg range start at 50mg. Wait at least an hour. Then and only then increase dose cautiously and not exceeding the upper dose range.
•Don't use if you are prone to poor mental health, especially depression or psychosis.
• Don’t use on top of other substances including alcohol. Don’t mix with other stimulants or anti-depressants
• Seek medical help if you experience serious unpleasant symptoms.

Legal Status:At present 6-APB is not believed to be covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Sale for human consumption would probably put it within the terms of the Medicines Act hence being sold once again labelled as "plant food" or "for technical use." As with MMCAT before this is not a plant food. Some commentators suggest that the decision to sell it in pelletised form (and to call it pellets, not pills) is to further reinforce the illusion that it is a plant food, and not for human consumption.

The situation regarding 6-APDB is more confusing with a number of sources suggesting it may fall under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but in lieu of a ruling from a court or the Home Office this is mere speculation.

It is likely that some of the compounds sold as 6-APB are, in fact, Controlled Drugs, and possession of them will be illegal.

To summarise:
• Compounds sold as 6-APB could contain a range of different chemicals. The one thing you can be reasonably certain of is that it won’t contain 6-APB;
• We do not categorically know that any 6-APB has been sold in the UK at all; early samples could have been any of a range of compounds;
• The products sold as 6-APB may contain hazardous substances which may also be controlled drugs;
• It is possible to be prosecuted for possession of a Controlled Drug even if you bought it believing it to be legal;
• A flashy website does not ensure they sell what they claim to sell; what they claim to sell may not be safe.

Sources for this article include but are not limited to:
Drugs Forum, Bluelight, Partyvibe, Legal Highs Forum
Liverpool John Moore University

Training: If you need a workshop or training on new, legal or herbal highs get in touch to discuss our course "Cats Bees and Dragonflies." Can be delivered anywhere in the UK.

To download this blog as a PDF for reproduction and distribution click here www.ixion.demon.co.uk/6apb.pdf

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