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"Research Chemical" trade attacked by DEA (7/25/04)

     In a somewhat surprising move, the DEA has arrested ten web site operators from five companies who were selling substances euphemistically referred to as 'research chemicals'; psychoactive drugs that are not explicitly illegal in the US.

      Such 'research chemical' drugs have occupied a gray area of the law for years; although they are not illegal per se, most could be prosecuted under the Analog Act if they were made or sold "for the purpose of human consumption." Federal prosecutors now face the interesting challenge of proving that the arrested individuals were selling 'for human consumption.'

     The web sites involved had rather long and explicit legal disclaimers and purchasing agreements that forbid such human use, but that alone may not save them. In at least one case, an individual associated with one of the 'RC' companies frequented various bulletin board systems to promote the company's products specifically as recreational drugs. If the DEA has done it's homework, such offenders will be easy to prosecute. However, it's also possible that much of this roundup is intended largely as an act of intimidation; a willingness to arrest and prosecute individuals they know they have little chance of convicting simply to scare people away from the business.

    According to the DEA, over the years that these companies have been operating there have been two deaths caused by RCs, making them a smaller risk to the public health than choking to death on hotdogs is.