What are Analogs?
Analog is a classification defined as implying that an ‘analog’ of a compound shares molecular structural and pharmacological similarities with the original compound. We are all familiar with Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its cousin Tetrahydracannabinol (Spice). The ‘O’ and the ‘A’ stand for Original and Analog respectively for the purpose of this article, however, in scientific circles, the ‘O’ and the ‘A’ of these two very similar compounds denote the small difference in bonding with the Hydrogen atom. Hydrogen is a very willing atom and can create a myriad of bonding structures without a great deal of difference in the resulting compound, hence; Hydro, Hydra, Hydrate, Hydride and many others that while kind of different, do not act differently when ingested even though they are chemically ‘unique’.
Unlike European law that requires the judicial branches of government to list each and every known ‘unique’ variant of a substance so that there is no question in litigation, US law provides the Analog Act (been around for a long time folks, this law is nothing new, dates all the way back to its use to combat rouge vendors of ‘cut’) which blankets all similar compounds based on the objective application of the compound. Without debating the relative merits of each approach, the US Law is simply described as, “If it looks like a duck, it waddles like a duck, and it quacks like a duck….it’s a duck.”
Spice and Bath Salt vendors don’t like to talk about the analog law and as long as they are selling into the EU, they don’t have to. In the US, nothing they say can get around the analog law, which is why, for the last year, every major smoke shop bust has revolved around the application of the analog law for either Spice or Bath Salts. THC, at this time, is a schedule 1 narcotic and any variant that provides a similar pharmacological effect is therefore also included on schedule 1. For the average consumer, the law does not mean too much, however, for retailers, it has dire consequences. If you are selling a schedule 1 narcotic, then everything in your store becomes paraphernalia by association and is removed alongside the schedule 1 contraband. #Ouch$$$.
For the average consumer, the unintended consequence of the US Law is that the manufacturers of these substances have been driven underground, and instead of operating in lab environments, they operate in trailers and storage units using not so scientific apparatus and not so appropriate means of manufacture and not so pure of raw materials. Basically, most Spice and Bath Salts are the modern day equivalent of Bathtub Gin.
Shit is Gross!
During prohibition Bathtub Gin was created by mixing easily fermented/produced Grain Alcohol with water and flavorings into large bottles for bulk distribution. In this era, typically the only household faucet tall enough to fill the bottles was in the bathtub; hence the name. The flavorings were strong enough to cover the nasty impurities left behind by low tech distillation. These impurities caused anything from blindness to paralyzation and played prominently in the eventual repeal of prohibition. The same is true of today’s impurities. One needs only look at the back of a standard envelope of Spice or Bath Salts to find the ‘Incense: Not for human consumption’ label.
Bath Salts especially are not for human consumption as the compound itself has inexorably been linked to the coming zombie apocalypse. We’ve all seen the gruesome Zombie face eater guy, purported to have consumed bath salts (now contested) immediately prior to lunching on the face of the homeless guy. For retailers, Bath Salts have been associated with our general industry and as far as our Uncle (Sam) is concerned, guilt by association is enough to wake you up at 4am for an unscheduled trip down to county. For the average consumer, this trash is not a genericized version of Adderall. The chemical compounds that have been found in confiscated packets of Bath Salts vary so widely, it is difficult to put them into any category. The compounds vary from methamphetamine to xanex like compounds along with harmless vitamins and not so harmless pool chemicals as ‘cut’. However, the bad news is not relegated to the confines of Bath Salts alone folks. The DEA busted a spice manufacturer in Texas based on a tip from a chemical supplier who became suspicious of an existing customer when sales of Acetone (commonly used as nail polish remover) to the customer went through the roof. Acetone is used as cut in the production of Spice.
Let Me Be Blunt
There are individuals who are going to huff nail polish remover and there is precious little anyone is going to do to stop them from endangering themselves in that way. There are a thousand fold more people who smoke Spice who would never do so if they were aware that they were going to basically be huffing nail polish remover. Do you think many people would ingest Bath Salts if it was labeled as containing rat poison and algaecide? Probably not, which is why it is not labeled as such, which is why these ‘products’ are so insidious. Listen up people, just because the Big Tobacco companies got away with poisoning their customers, does not mean you will. And let’s look at the companies as an industry now, shadows of what they once were because of never ending lawsuits and they have to label their products appropriately, plus they’re not allowed to spray the tobacco with all the nasty addictive chemicals like they used to. Sure, people still smoke, but there are fewer and fewer every day….’cuz for every 10 cigarette consumers that die from cigarette related illness, only two consumers pick up their deadly addiction.
The side effects of the host of compounds loosely referred to as Bath Salts, Spice and Cut has become well documented and gained a great deal of negative notoriety in the media for very good reasons: The shit is very bad for you, which causes me to ask: Is the sale or ingestion of your bath tub gin for a cheap short lived high worth the gnarly long lived consequences?