Don’t know much about chemistry

But this would seem to be a problem that cannot be solved:

The network often avoids efforts to stop it by trading not only in finished fentanyl but related products subject to little or no regulation in China or internationally. These include some copies of fentanyl known as analogs, as well as the chemical ingredients and pill presses used to produce the drug, according to the documents and interviews.

The China Food and Drug Administration declined to comment on the sale and production of fentanyl and referred questions to the Ministry of Public Security, which didn’t respond.

The problem that cannot be solved being that fentanyl is an entirely synthetic opioid.

Costing perhaps $800 for the chemicals to make a batch and fetching, as pills, some $800,000. A gross mark up of 1000 x (no, not 1,000%, sales are 1,000 x cost of raw materials).

Can’t see that trying to prevent this will work. And OK, so they’re calling for the precursors to be controlled. But it’s all entirely synthetic. So producers can just keep going on down the line if they feel so inclined. In theory at least you could start with a bunch of black pepper and some water and get there. Yes, OK, slightly hyperbolic but still.

Banning this shit just isn’t going to work.

29 thoughts on “Don’t know much about chemistry”

  1. The markup on marijuana is similar. It’s a weed, driven to extreme price by GOVERNMENT.

    Government can’t stop drugs, only affect the price. The more government affects the price, the MORE there will be. These people making and selling this latest drug are doing it TO MAKE MONEY. They simply wouldn’t be doing it if there were no money in it.

  2. Of course the problem is soluble, the only reason there is demand for exotic and powerful chemicals is because the natural ones that people used to use are illegal and availability is limited.
    Poppies, Hash plants and Coca plants grow anywhere but the products are bulky.
    Concentrating them allows shrinking in transportation and then bulking before sale.

    Why would anybody buy an analog substance of unknown quality if the the naturally occurring product was freely available in your back yard.

    The vast majority of the harms in drug use are created by the legal position of the drugs and not in any intrinsic properties of the drugs themselves.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    BobRocket – “the only reason there is demand for exotic and powerful chemicals is because the natural ones that people used to use are illegal and availability is limited.”

    Well no. The only reason there is a demand for exotic and powerful chemicals is because some people are sociopaths who think that laws are for little people, not for them. They do not feel bound by the mores and conventions of normal society.

    “The vast majority of the harms in drug use are created by the legal position of the drugs and not in any intrinsic properties of the drugs themselves.”

    Oddly enough it is not the law that makes someone overdose. It is the drugs. All the harms the drugs do are the result of the sociopaths who use them. Nothing else. Sociopaths will be sociopaths even if the drugs they like are legal.

  4. Drug abuse is a side effect of socialism, just as vodka abuse was a side efect of communism. If there’s no hope for the future, might as well get out of it.

  5. ‘All the harms the drugs do are the result of the sociopaths who use them.’

    NFW. The Mexican cartels do massive harm.

  6. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Fentanyl is what keeps my mother from shrieking in agony from her arthritis. And fentanyl abuse is a self-limiting problem. By the time you’ve got there you have two choices: treatment and recovery or death within the year. It’s an end-of-the-line addiction for people who have exhausted the possibilities of heroin and oxycodone.

  7. Some years ago there was such a shortage of some type of cough medicine because it was a precursor to a street drug. People wrote straight-faced articles about synthesising the cough medicine from the street drug as the street drug was easier to get hold of.

    Can’t remember the details, I think it might have been converting cheap crack into expensive codeine.

  8. Bloke in Costa Rica

    jgh: Crack is cocaine (alkaloid, not opioid). All you need to make it is powder cocaine and sodium or ammonium bicarb. What you’re probably thinking of is pseudoephedrine, which is methamphetamine plus a hydroxyl group. So reduction of sudafed by stripping the OH off the propanol backbone gives you meth.

    It’s a bugger to obtain even here in CR. I have had a few bouts of sinusitis and it is miraculous. A few tabs of pure pseudoephedrine and the horrific pain eases, the passages open and what feels like a pint of vileness just drains out. Now all you can get is oxymetazoline hydrochloride, which works but has a bad rebound, and phenylephrine, which is about as much use as a chocolate padlock.

  9. Speaking of drugs which you can no longer get, does anyone remember kaolin and morphine? It was great stuff, now all you get is Imodium which blocks you up like concrete.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Gamecock – “NFW. The Mexican cartels do massive harm.”

    Yes. And? You think they would be nice law abiding accountants if they were not selling drugs?

    Mexico does not punish criminals reliably. Or at all. Thus the country is screwed. It doesn’t matter if those criminals find cocaine, or kidnapping or the PRI. They find something and so make everyone elses life miserable.

  11. Some free marketeers you lot are, you whine about fat/sugar taxes and CM, yet you attempt to claim the moral high ground using the same arguments that those you claim to oppose use whilst spending huge sums of other peoples money on trying to prevent the supply of products that are hugely in demand.

    Hypocritical socialist scum is the phrase that springs to mind.

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    BobRocket – “Hypocritical socialist scum is the phrase that springs to mind.”

    I have been called worse. But then I have never claimed to be a free marketeer. The other distinction is that fat isn’t bad for you. Sugar isn’t in small amounts either. Either way, people should be left to make their own choice because there is no pressing social need to do anything about either. But crystal meth really does drive you insane.

  13. Methamphetamine discovered in 1893, funnily enough wasn’t much of a problem until Amphetamine discovered in 1887 was made illegal.

    ‘But crystal meth really does drive you insane.’
    Whether this statement is true or not is beside the point, people should be left to make their own choice.
    I don’t care if people hang glide, base jump or wear lycra in their thousands every sunday despite all three being provably harmful.
    I don’t want to ban horseriding even though is is provably more harnful than extasy.

    I do think that educating people about the risks and dangers associated with life and how to assess those risks is a good idea but if people want to go ahead and do stupid things then it should be no body else’s business but their own.

  14. And? It means your declaration “All the harms the drugs do are the result of the sociopaths who use them. Nothing else.” is wrong. Stupid wrong.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    BobRocket – “Methamphetamine discovered in 1893, funnily enough wasn’t much of a problem until Amphetamine discovered in 1887 was made illegal.”

    Methamphetamine was sold over the counter in the US until the 1970s I believe. A diet drug. It had been sold freely well before that. Someone is about to get rich on a recent book about the Nazis and Crystal Meth. They used it all the time – until they started noticing serious side effects. The Allies used it freely in WW2 too.

    “Whether this statement is true or not is beside the point, people should be left to make their own choice.”

    Should they? Why?

    “I don’t want to ban horseriding even though is is provably more harnful than extasy.”

    Why do you think that? You mean more people die on one than the other? How many people ride horses compared to how many use E?

    “if people want to go ahead and do stupid things then it should be no body else’s business but their own.”

    And what if someone wants to cook the chips they sell the public with doxins?

    Gamecock – “Stupid wrong.”

    If it makes you happier I will make an exception for allergies. But I do notice that legalisation won’t make you less allergic. It may mean you will get more crystal meth in your cupcakes though, Better be careful.

  16. Oddly enough it is not the law that makes someone overdose. It is the drugs. All the harms the drugs do are the result of the sociopaths who use them.

    Only if the sociopaths you’re talking about are the ones in government.

    Here in the US, we had the government during Prohibition spiking ethanol with methanol because they would rather kill people than let those people alter their brain chemistry in a way the state didn’t approve of.

    By the same token, the US government mandates lacing opioids like Vicodin with acetominophen because they’d rather you destroy your liver before you can OD on the opioid.

    As for pseudoephedrine, here in the US those cold medicines were put behind the pharmacy counter because people were supposedly buying them in bulk to make meth, and then the government would arrest people who bought “too much”. This has, of course, do nothing to stop the supply of meth, but the law was never repealed because the only way you can show you care about children is to do things which have already been proved not to work.

  17. “Whether this statement is true or not is beside the point, people should be left to make their own choice.”

    Should they? Why?

    Because your assertion that the state should own their bodies and make the choice for them is profoundly wicked.

    Government goes after so-called “pill mills” because they would rather let end-stage MS patients (and sufferers of other chronic ailments) suffer horrible debilitating pain than have some people get a high in a way the state doesn’t like.

    Truly, unspeakably evil, and I hope that all the DEA types get diagnosed with such diseases and find themselves unable to get any pain medication.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    Ted S. – “Here in the US, we had the government during Prohibition spiking ethanol with methanol”

    And in the UK we had people put opium in sleeping medicine to stop children crying.

    “because they would rather kill people than let those people alter their brain chemistry in a way the state didn’t approve of.”

    No. They would rather deter people from breaking the law rather than allowing them to break the law.

    “This has, of course, do nothing to stop the supply of meth, but the law was never repealed because the only way you can show you care about children is to do things which have already been proved not to work.”

    Just because a law is not 100% effective doesn’t mean it isn’t 75% effective.

    Ted S. – “Because your assertion that the state should own their bodies and make the choice for them is profoundly wicked.”

    I am not making that assertion. It is not against the law to have chemicals in your body. It is illegal to buy, sell or possess them. But even if I was, it is hardly wicked. We tell people what they can and can’t do all the time.

    “Government goes after so-called “pill mills” because they would rather let end-stage MS patients (and sufferers of other chronic ailments) suffer horrible debilitating pain than have some people get a high in a way the state doesn’t like.”

    Presumably you mean they go after marijuana dealers. I am willing to admit there is too much strictness in pain medication, but this is mostly hiding behind the sick to push legalisation. A cynical exploitation of the suffering of MS patients for weed growers.

  19. SMFS

    The Allies used amphetamines to combat sleep deprivation and they had to stop giving them to pilots due to non-combat losses of planes.
    (speed stops you from sleeping and lack of sleep makes you crazy)

    Total number of drug related fatalities is around 2000 per year, around 600 of these have alcohol in their system at the time.

    More than half of these fatalities are either accidental (didn’t know what they were taking) or purposeful poisoning (suicide), the rest were recreational excess.

    Total number of alcohol related fatalities (without other drugs in their system) is greater than 6000 per year

    Anecdotally MDMA fatalities have risen recently, it is believed because of increases in strength per dose.
    (around two million people take ecstasy each month)

    As for horse riding, it is positively dangerous
    http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/tag/rider-fatality
    (don’t forget that there are only around 140,000 regular horse riders)

    As for marijuana, there are no fatalities from consumption yet to fine someone £125 for possession it costs around £8000 in court costs + forensic costs + police costs + probation/social service costs.

  20. So Much For Subtlety

    BobRocket – “The Allies used amphetamines to combat sleep deprivation and they had to stop giving them to pilots due to non-combat losses of planes. (speed stops you from sleeping and lack of sleep makes you crazy)”

    They still give them to air force pilots but there is a risk they will drive people crazy. As we see with Philip K Dick. Got some good writing out of it but the drugs drove him insane. Some drugs really are dangerous.

    “As for marijuana, there are no fatalities from consumption yet to fine someone £125 for possession it costs around £8000 in court costs + forensic costs + police costs + probation/social service costs.”

    No fatalities that we know of. There is a social cost given the drug makes you stupid and welfare-dependent.

  21. SMFS

    ‘There is a social cost given the drug makes you stupid and welfare-dependent.’

    Evidence please and don’t bother quoting the Dunedin study.

  22. @ BobRocket
    There are a lot of fatalities from marijuana consumption of which we know – most of the rail fatalities in the last twenty years were linked to marijuana consumption by the train driver, apart from deaths of drug users themselves and a significant minority of murders and manslaughters by dangerous driving.
    Look up the derivation of the word “assassin” – it is from the systematic use of hashish to turn men into psychotic killers.
    If you want to spend your time taking the mickey, choose another blogsite – Tim has too many readers who know what they are talking about.

  23. John77 correlation is not causation and anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal.

    Fatal Rail Accident
    Cannon St 1991 – insufficient evidence to prove drug use had caused the accident

    Cars
    In Washington, there was a jump of nearly 25% in drivers testing positive for marijuana in 2013 – the first full year after legalisation – but no corresponding increase in car accidents or fatalities.

    Just because someone is stoned and they have an accident does not mean that the weed is the cause, this is why there are separate offences of DUI and careless/dangerous/wreckless driving.

    SMFS said ‘There is a social cost given the drug makes you stupid and welfare-dependent.’

    I called him out, notice he hasn’t responded because he has no evidence.

    ‘Tim has too many readers who know what they are talking about.’
    You are obviously not one of them, although you probably are a pillock of the first order.
    The ‘assassins’ were paid in hash, they would have spent too much time giggling in the corner to kill someone if they got stoned first.

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