Kitty Litter: Mephedrone Might Look Like MDMA, but It’s Not
It started in my limbs and made its way up my ribcage, until everything tingled. I was at Electric Zoo and had just popped a molly. My teeth ached from smiling. I chewed my gum into mush. The bass made my bones vibrate.
And all of a sudden things got weird.
I started to feel anxious. I thought, Maybe I need some more? But was too paranoid to make a move. As sweaty bros and raver girls peaked to Above and Beyond, I clammed up. What is this shit? I didn’t have that fuzzy warm feeling you get with MDMA. I didn’t even want to be touched. It felt like I was trapped in a ziplock bag, watching everything happen outside myself and feeling dizzy from the recycled air.
Later I found out what I thought was MDMA was actually a drug called mephedrone, also known as MCAT or meow meow. It looks like MDMA, but it’s a cathinone, a compound found in the khat plant (or qat), a leafy seminarcotic used in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as a social lubricant. But cathinone concentrated can be used to achieve a stimulated high. Mephedrone’s synthesis was first reported in 1929, but the drug resurfaced in 2003, when an underground chemist publicized it on a drug website called the Hive.
It’s a member of the “bath salts” family with MDPV and methylone, and was placed under emergency scheduling by the DEA in October 2011. It’s one of many so-called designer drugs, which means it’s produced in bulk in China like knockoff purses. In two years, it’ll be old news.
The Kentucky Derby… on Acid!
This is my good friend Caitlin (whose name isn’t really Caitlin). That is a hit of acid on her tongue. She did acid once, four years ago, and she’s doing it again now, just before we head out to the Kentucky Derby, because the only way to attend the most famous horse race in the world—an event that features thousands of drunken gamblers, straight-up drunks, and a roiling, seersuckered mess of Southern gentry—is to trip your head off for the whole thing.
An hour later, we arrived at Churchill Downs, which was pretty miserable in the rain. As with every major public gathering in America, tons of cops and security guards were on hand at the entrance to direct foot traffic and remind us all that we live in a post-9/11 security state. I knew the acid was starting to kick in when she compared this routine checkpoint to being a Jew in Hitler’s Germany: “I swear we are in a concentration camp. Look at how they are herding everyone.” Is this how Alex Jones fans are made?
Our tickets were for the infield, the area surrounded by the racetrack that turns into a big muddy party for the duration—sort of like a music festival without music but worse, if you can picture that. This area is designated for those who don’t want to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a ticket, belligerent drunks, and 40-something divorcees trying to get freaky. It’s cheap because you can’t really tell what’s going on, horse-racing wise.
…But in order to reach the infield, we first had to fight our way through a tunnel that smelled like a rotting asshole—the air was filled with cigar and cigarette smoke, vomit, and bourbon. Caitlin asked me if we were in hell.
Tanks for the Memories, Part 1
With comedian Joe Rogan as his guide, Hamilton Morris travels across the United States seeking new heights of sensory deprivation. In part one, he investigates what happens to the mind, body, and spirit while inside the tank.
Watch it here
Internet Psychonauts Try All the Drugs You Don’t Want to Do
If you’re looking for a new hobby and get a kick out of taking newly-synthesized designer drugs before anyone else in the world, why not become a psychonaut? Sign up, and you’ll be able to get high on drugs that aren’t even regulated yet. Which sounds kind of dumb and very dangerous, but at least won’t land you in jail, because you’re doing it in the name of “research.”
In a general sense, psychonauts seem to fall into two camps. One party say they test the chemicals in order to document the drugs’ effects and assess whether it’s safe for others to use. The other (more self-aggrandizing) party claim that being a psychonaut is about exploring the frontiers of the mind.
Examples of some designer drugs are 25I-NBOMe, JWH-018 or Dimethocaine. While they can be fun, they’re a lot more dangerous than what they’re replacing—LSD, weed, and coke, respectively. The LSD substitute, 25I-NBOMe, is measured in micrograms, making dosages impossible to measure with the naked eye, which led to five deaths linked to 25I-NBOMe last year because of careless dosing.
Despite the risks, plenty of responsible (relatively speaking) drug users on Erowid claim that the new research chemicals they’re testing are fun, just so long as you don’t go nuts and start abusing them. I got in contact with a few psychonauts through Erowid and asked them why they’ve chosen to guinea pig themselves for anyone out there who might want to buy a bag of strange powder off the internet.
Some more, slightly less evil-looking JWH-018 powder. (Photo via)
VICE: Hi Hammilton. What makes you want to try all these new, untested chemicals?
Hammilton: I like the idea that the compounds I’m trying are completely new—that no human has tried them yet. Dimethocaine isn’t even a good drug, really… it’s decent at best. But I’ve always felt like it was kind of my baby, just because it was my original work, obtaining it and testing it, then posting about it online, which caused it to be sold by just about all research chemical vendors today. Although, usually they sell lidocaine with added caffeine as dimethocaine.
That’s all your doing?
Yeah. But I feel somewhat responsible that I didn’t look into the less toxic derivatives back then and post about them instead. Because now, instead of the likely less toxic dimethocaine-para-desamino analogue being sold, it’s the potentially more dangerous compound that’s out there. I recently learned that the desamino analogue is less active as a stimulant, though, so maybe it’s irrelevant.
Whatever you say. Have you had any bad experiences testing these drugs out?
I’ve had terrible experiences with synthetic cannabinoids. Before it was known that JWH-018 was the compound being sold in spice—and before spice became popular—I obtained some JWH-018 to compare to spice and smoked it. I wasn’t really sure what a dose should have been back then, but it was too much. It causes anxiety and a mild overdose brought on a full-fledged panic attack.
Drugs Aren’t Always Fun
I was at Bestival one year, hanging out in the campsite, taking ketamine for breakfast and generally having a hell of a time. The one problem with taking ketamine for breakfast, though, is that—by lunch—you can’t move and your brain is like a sponge that’s been slowly soaking up a vat full of Ernest Hemingway’s ancient, 100 percent proof urine. On this particular day, I was pretty lucid, could communicate absolutely fine and didn’t have nearly as much of that weird brain detachment thing you normally get on K. Only, I couldn’t move any of my limbs.
My friend sat me down on a camp chair, fed me some water and helped me smoke a cigarette by lighting it for me and placing it in my mouth every time I wanted a drag. Everything was going OK, all things considered, until I felt a rumble in my stomach and remembered the bowl of festival chili I’d eaten the night before. Call it a sixth-sense, a power for premonitions or just being a human for 22 years, but it was at that point that I knew I was going to shit myself and there was nothing I could do about it.
I whispered this to my friend in the hope that he would escort me to a cubicle or, at least, zip me up in the privacy of my tent. Instead, of course, he gathered as many of our friends as he could and lined them up around me. I could feel my sphincter release and contract but couldn’t do anything about it. So, staring at eight people dead in the eyes, I gave in and soiled myself in the midday sun.