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Research Chemicals

Research chemicals is one term used to describe new psychoactive substances or ‘legal highs’. It usually refers to both research powders and research pills that are new or rediscovered chemicals, which mimic the effects of some illegal drugs such as cocaine and MDMA.

Research chemicals fall into the same drug categories as the illegal drugs they are designed to copy. The most common research chemicals categories are stimulants (uppers), psychedelics (trips) and empathogens.

Unlike a lot of illegal drugs that have been around a long time, it is difficult to know the long term effects of research chemicals as there is not enough evidence on their risks. Usually the user experiments on themself to carry out the research and the dose will differ between each chemical and batch.

The appearance will vary depending on the drug but most research chemicals are produced in a lab and will come as a white to yellow powder or as a powder-filled capsule.

What you Need to Know

If you choose to use research chemicals:

Legal Information

Some research chemicals are controlled by The Misuse of Drugs Act.  Other research chemicals are covered by The Psychoactive Substances Act. It was introduced in the UK on the 26th May 2016 and it makes it an offence to manufacture, export/import (i.e. buying from a non-UK website), supply or offer to supply any psychoactive substance, if likely to be used for its psychoactive effects. Despite being psychoactive, alcohol, nicotine, tobacco and caffeine are exempt from the act.

Under the new regulations, possession with intent to supply is an offence. Possession is not an offence, except in a ‘custodial institution’ (e.g. prison, young offenders centre).

Penalties range from civil sanctions to a 7 year prison sentence but some offences will be considered to be aggravated, including selling to under 18s or around schools and children’s homes etc.

The Human Medicines Regulations (2012) and the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) including Temporary Class Drug Orders (TCDOs) will remain unchanged.

The police have increased powers to stop and search individuals and premises, and NPS may be treated like a controlled drug until proven otherwise.

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