Monday, August 21, 2006

Legal High Review: All Pepped Up.

The hand wringing and moral babbling around the sale of mushrooms in Dublin has died down, but for some reason the Village this week ventured back into the head shops of Temple Bar to report that a new range of legal highs are on the market. These new highs are better shelved away under the title of party drugs, reliant not on the herbal extracts typifing other concoctions, instead they are based on existing synthetic chemicals. Some stoners like to think that god made weed so that makes it ok. He also made nettles, but I don't wipe my arse with them - usually in my book when it comes to drugs man made products have the edge.

On sale under various brand names such as Jaxx and PEP, what most of this new generation have in common is the stimulant BZP. Ranked alongside cocaine, E and hash in the states, BZP has so far escaped the attention of legislators in most of Europe. First imported from New Zealand, where the government has embarked on what it calls a 'drug harm minimisation solution,' recent legislation faciltitated the creation of a category D that allows scope for the regulation of substances like BZP. Substances that so far have shown little evidence of dodgy effects on users and if marketed properly could go some way to undermining traditional drug markets.

Its worth remembering how many of the skater and alternative shops in Temple Bar had to carry signs saying 'we do not sell magic mushrooms' as the last press witch hunt led to floods of rural kids coming up to the city looking for a legal buzz. The press plays a double game with these things, scare mongering among the parents but equally they advertise new opportunities for the experimental. Having a picked up the Village the Friday before Mantua, a headline opened before me promising an experience 'like ecstasy but cleaner,' throwing back my coffee I was down to the Head Shop in a jiffy, clamouring to get my hands on this anticipated miracle.

Head shops perplex me. Based on the triple market of kids who want the paraphrenalia and not the stuff; recreational party goers out for the weekend and psychonauts who accompanied by a bongo and Carlos Castaneda are intent on exploring the inner realms of what their mind rightly keeps locked away. Rooting around the Head Shop carries the attention of a lanky long hair behind the counter. Wearing some sci-fi shirt himself, its his turn to look me up and down for some referent snippet and ask that most annoying question "how can I help you?"
"Well I'm just looking around..."
Straight to the chase he interupts "Are you after a particular effect?"
"MDMA" I hesitantly volunteer, knowing full well that there can be nothing but a snigger trapped behind his facial hair as he conspires future opportunities to sell people like me turf. After throwing €12 across the table for two pre-packaged capsules, I hand over my passport for an age ID, and as a fumbling joke about the Village coverage being a brilliant ad fails I leave the shop.

Dishing out over €40 to try salvia divinorum from a similar shop a number of years ago burnt me rightly, so my experiences with legal drugs have fallen down between the cracks of gags from the Brasseye "cake" episode. If they are legal then they must consist of 'made up psychoactive chemicals' and be bugger all use to any of us. This wasn't the case with LSD prior to 1967, or that evil most foul Ketamine in the UK more recently and we don't need to mention mushrooms again. Sometimes things slip through the cracks and BZP is one of these things. The Mantua festival provided the ideal scenario to test the hype, having a can of Bavaria 8.6 and a bottle of Buckfast prior to dropping hardly constituted the most scientific of conditions. But you can be sure they are the eternal independent variables of any Irish party and if not now and there, then where was I going to try these little orange capsules?

You can be sure there is something in these PEP pills that approximates a relatively mild E. Its a rushing sped up sensation that sends you leaping into a lip biting hard dancing mode but not before a mild burping nausea comes over you as your body digests the substance. These are so good that you even get that horrible emphatic effect that sends you motoring off into rambling discussions with those unfortunate enough to step into your path of spewed emotional vomit.

From the first moment it feels like you are spiralling towards a comedown that never happens. The clock seems to have moved a tad too slow and you just return to whatever sober or twisted state you were in about an hour before taking the drug. There is this lingering vague pscyhedleic and monged cloud hanging around your head for a while, it's a chilled skagged effect that means you should keep some good friends close by as the serotonin starts to play games with your head. The next morning left me with a massive sense of disassociation and deja vu that could be associated with any combination of the other variables at hand that night. There was this fresh exhaustion and a need to sleep that I've never associated with any of my previous late night acelerated escapades and its an experience that registers with what other users have described about these PEPX pills.

Elsewhere: As always, the best places on the net for honest advice on drugs is the vaults of Erowid and the drugs forum on Urban75. A google search also showed up this Ministry of Sound review of PEPX, meanwhile the Guardian has this to say. Thumped has also picked up on these PEP pills, where they are being explored as an option for the Electric Picnic. The consensus there seems to be that 'pills are way more fun, probably the same cost.'
This consensus is dramatically challenged by the experiences of users over on PlanB. Some Aussie students writing for a college mag subjected a batch of these new legal highs to a fine review as well. Beware as it seems most of the particular brands the head shop in town sell are available far cheaper online ( 1 ). Meanwhile if you are interested there is an interesting talk on featuring an American group called 'Law Enforcement Against Prohibition' next week in Merchants Quay.

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Comments:
"rambling discussions with those unfortunate enough to step into your path and emotional vomit."
Such as:
"You're not a man of God, you're not a man of God, you're not a man of God, you're not a man of God" Directed at some unfortunate hand and foot painting, you crazy!!
 
"Dishing out over €40 to try salvia divinorum from a similar shop a number of years ago burnt me rightly,"

i quite like salvia, doesn't last long enough though. You were probably ripped off at 40 quid.
 
stock up for the leccy piccy, eh what?
 
Whether BZP is for you or not, and whether it actually does what it says on the packet (I dropped one while pissed, and didn't feel much though that doesn't mean they're ineffective, it just means I was effectively soused), the f act remains that only a SINGLE death has resulted WORlDWIDE from BZP use. And the death in question wasn't directly from the BZP but from a combination of BZP and Ecstasy. How many people die from alcohol and fags, right? Just a thought. I'm actually going to try more brands of this curious drug. I enjoy feeling stimulated socially even if, as one reviewer pointed out, you unleash a lot of emotional vomit onto unfortunates standing close by....
 
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