Via Eric Crampton: A Simple and Convenient Synthesis of Pseudoephedrine From N-Methylamphetamine.
Pseudoephedrine, active ingredient of Sudafed®, has long been the most popular nasal decongestant in the United States due to its effectiveness and relatively mild side effects . In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to obtain psuedoephedine in many states because of its use as a precursor for the illegal drug N-methylamphetamine (also known under various names including crystal meth, meth, ice, etc.)[1,2]. While in the past many stores were able to sell pseudoephedrine, new laws in the United States have restricted sales to pharmacies, with the medicine kept behind the counter. The pharmacies require signatures and examination of government issued ID in order to purchase pseudoephedrine. Because the hours of availability of such pharmacies are often limited, it would be of great interest to have a simple synthesis of pseudoephedrine from reagents which can be more readily procured. A quick search of several neighborhoods of the United States revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult to obtain, N-methylamphetamine can be procured at almost any time on short notice and in quantities sufficient for synthesis of useful amounts of the desired material. Moreover, according to government maintained statistics, Nmethylmphetamine is becoming an increasingly attractive starting material for pseudoephedrine, as the availability of Nmethylmphetamine has remained high while prices have
dropped and purity has increased . We present here a convenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratories to produce psuedoephedrine from N-methylamphetamine. While N-methylamphetamine itself is a powerful
decongestant, it is less desirable in a medical setting because of its severe side effects and addictive properties . Such side effects may include insomnia, agitation, irritability, dry mouth, sweating, and heart palpitations. Other side effects may include violent urges or, similarly, the urge to be successful in business or finance.
My organic chemistry isn’t robust enough to say whether the synthesis is valid.
I/S comments on pot decriminalisation:
From a liberal perspective, the state has no interest in policing what people stick in their bodies for fun. If it causes public health problems, like alcohol and tobacco, then you treat it as a public health issue, like alcohol and tobacco. But you don’t go around banning things just because old farts disapprove.
That is the strict liberal perspective. I used to adhere to it myself: ‘People should be free to take whatever substances they want.’
The problem with this is that many drugs have addictive properties. They actually take away the individuals’ freedom to choose whether to consume them or not: nicotine and heroin are the classic examples. By banning their sale and preventing addiction, aren’t you actually increasing the total aggregate of freedom? (I guess this forms the core of almost all left-wing politics: by removing freedom in one area we greatly increase it in another).
The liberal counter-argument is that people have to consume the product to become addicted, and that’s a matter of choice. But the companies that sell these products target them at low-information demographics, like children and teenagers, whose ability to make rational choices is reduced. And when they are able to make rational decisions they’re addicted.
I don’t think pot is addictive (although some people demonstrate compulsive behaviour towards it, and the effect is similar to addiction), so I think it should be decriminalised. But I don’t buy into the liberal philosophy of a broad legalisation of drugs of abuse.
Key on decriminalisation:
“Go and ask the police officers, go and ask the parents in New Zealand whether they want their 18-year-old child to be smoking a joint before they head off to school,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.
This PM is not good on his feet. If his party hasn’t focused-grouped and pre-planned talking points on an issue, Key reverts to inane gibberish. Are children drinking bottles of whiskey before they head off to school? If so, is that an issue for parents, or a reason for the state to spend a hundred million dollars a year prohibiting the sale of whiskey?
Via the Herald:
Act leader Don Brash wants the use of cannabis decriminalised, saying too much valuable police time is taken up enforcing a law that is flouted by about 400,000 people a year.
Former Police Minister and Act Epsom candidate John Banks could not be reached for comment last night.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said: “National has long held the view this would be a step in the wrong direction.”
Police Minister Judith Collins also said Act’s cannabis policy was going in the wrong direction.
Once again, here’s the Lancet’s Drug Harm Index:
The status quo is that the state spends a vast sum (Brash estimates $100 million per year) and uses the power of the criminal justice system to destroy thousands of lives – for no gain. The only people who profit from the status quo are criminal organisations that are enriched by drug prohibition, and politicians who pretend they’re getting ‘tough on crime’ because they’re locking up potheads.
I doubt Key’s position is based on polling – this is just a gut-instinct response. And I predict that the majority of the population will support decriminalisation. That isn’t going to make them vote ACT, of course. I think the Venn diagram of potential ACT voters and people who support drug liberalisation has a pretty tiny intersection.
Brash was on Q & A this morning, talking up ACT’s new law and order policy, which involves the decriminalisation of marijuana. So . . .
- Did John Boscawen resign because he’s opposed to this?
- Also, okay, I also support the decriminalisation of marijuana. And this is in line with the ACT Party’s principles as a liberal party, and I’ve often complained about their lack of adherence to these principles – so I feel a little hypocritical in saying that this is a really fucking crazy thing to do. Does John Banks really want to campaign in Epsom on a drug liberalisation policy?
The easier you make it to get at forbidden fruit, the more people will want a taste.
Garth George on drug prohibition.
The Herald reports:
A powerful party drug rarely seen in New Zealand that can cause intense hallucinations and paranoia has been seized in a record $4.5 million haul.
Dimethyltryptamine, also called DMT, is also the main psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, an Amazonian brew used for healing purposes.
Many Dim-Post readers will know ayahuasca by its other name, Yage (pronounced Ya-Hey), the drug William Burroughs travelled to the Amazon in search of at the end of
Queer (sorry, it’s actually at the end of Junkie. I should try and do some basic research when I write these things, but then it wouldn’t be the same blog), in the belief that it would cure his heroin addiction and grant him telepathic powers.
The Herald reports:
Depending on the dose, the high ranges from a mild psychedelic state to extreme immersive hallucination – including a total disconnection from reality.
William S Burroughs reports:
Larval beings passed before my eyes in a blue haze, each one giving an obscene, mocking squawk (I later identified this squawking as the croaking of frogs). Yagé is space time travel. The room seems to shake and vibrate with motion. The blood and substance of many races, Negro, Polynesian, Mountain Mongol, Desert Nomad, Polyglot Near East, Indian-new races as yet unconceived and unborn, combinations not yet realized passes through your body. All human potentials are spread out in a vast silent market… The city is visited by epidemics of violence and the untended dead are eaten by vultures in the street.
According to the Herald:
Law enforcement agencies are still trying to establish street-level prices.
Scanning through the Law Commission report on the misuse of drugs, I’d really like opponents of the drug war to cite fiscal costs when they’re critiquing government policy and proposing alternatives. It’s one thing to argue that prosecutions and prison sentences for possession/social dealing of class C drugs are poor policy, it’d be a hell of a lot more convincing to John Q Taxpayer if he knew it was costing several billion dollars a year to keep people from smoking pot in their homes, that we were borrowing X many million dollars a week to keep pot growers in prison, etc.
Via Reason, a new Lancet study into the comparative harmfulness of 20 different drugs of abuse according to 16 criteria on a scale of 100.
The first caveat is that alcohol is legal, and thus cheap and widely available. So if you make heroin and crack cocaine legal then you could quickly see them overtake alcohol – and if they’re legal then companies that manufacture and distribute the drug can lobby the government, so it becomes very difficult to mitigate the harm because the people that profit from it write the laws regulating it. Although the authors note:
Many of the harms of drugs are affected by their availability and legal status. Ideally, a model needs to distinguish between the harms resulting directly from drug use and those resulting from the control system for that drug.
But look at LSD and ecstasy down there at the far right. Those are Class A drugs, the manufacture, importation or sale of which is punishable with life imprisonment – although the harm they cause is ~1/10th that of alcohol. The obvious conclusion here is that having politicians regulate the sale and prohibition of drugs has been an expensive, catastrophic failure. They’re corrupt and ignorant and have no idea what they’re doing. We need an independent body of trained professionals making these decisions.
Posting has been even lighter than usual due to (a) a terrible cold that’s knocked me on my ass, and (b) the unavailability of pseudoephedrine based cold medication. That phenylephrine shit does nothing.