'Legal high' may contain illegal ingredient

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 20:49 12/03/2012
MARKETED AS A LEGAL HIGH: Capsules of Dime, as seen on a website advertising the drug.
MARKETED AS A LEGAL HIGH: Capsules of Dime, as seen on a website advertising the drug.

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A drug marketed as a "legal high" is believed to contain an illegal ingredient.

Dime, a white powder that is sold in a capsule, has been advertised as an “amazing mood amplifier”, and a mix between ecstasy and LSD “yet completely legal”.

But the National Drug Intelligence Bureau has launched an investigation into the synthetic drug, believing it may contain a type of Class C controlled substance known as 2CE.

Drugs that fall into Class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act are banned.

TVNZ's Close Up programme had the drug tested by Environmental Science and Research, which confirmed to the show that it contained 25C-NBOMe, another Class C substance.

A police spokeswoman refused to say when the drug was brought to the bureau’s attention, when it launched its investigation or whether police had confiscated any Dime capsules.

Kurt von Keisenberg, who has been importing the drug into New Zealand, told Close Up he believed it was legal and was surprised that the test had shown it contained a controlled substance.

He said that the drug was purchased from a Polish company but understood it was manufactured in China.

When asked whether he ever got it tested he replied: "I didn't think there was a need".

Dime was being sold online until the weekend, when the website and its Twitter account were taken down.

The drug had only been sold online for three weeks Close Up reported, however a Wellington drug-user said a drug by the same name has been around since at least the middle of last year.

A 19-year-old man, who declined to be named, had tried Dime thinking it was illegal, but was shocked to find it was being sold as a legal high.

He claimed to have first snorted Dime eight months ago after his friend was given it for free by their marijuana dealer. He has tried it twice since.

“It kicks in straight away. It kept me awake all night. It’s like a weird body feeling rather than a mind trip,” the university student said.

“You feel normal but you’re just lying there awake.”

He said the effects of the drug lasted about eight hours, made him giggly, confused and it was difficult to have a proper conversation.

There was “no way” the drug should be legal, he says.

“Because it’s such a tiny amount of powder which does something for so long, there must be some pretty hard-out chemicals in it.”

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Comments on an online forum suggest Dime has been sold in Wellington for a few months and some questioned whether it contained 2CE.

While we're not willing to say exactly what is in Dime, we can assure you that it is legal,” von Keisenberg posted on the forum two weeks ago.

He warned it was likely that more than one product was being sold underground as Dime.

“Dime shares similarities with other psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, pscilocybin, the 2Cx series etc, however due to it’s extremely specific action it has a much narrower range of effects.”

“… I would love to be open and honest about this, but you’ve got to understand, this is our lively hood. We have no way of protecting that other than keeping the identity of the active drug to ourselves.”

A spokesman for Environmental Science and Research confirmed the organisation had tested a product called Dime for a commercial business. He would not say who contracted the work or what the results were.

Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation drugs team leader Dr Chris Wilkins said 2CE falls under the analogue category, which is included as a Class C drug in the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Dr Wilkins follows drug trends by interviewing drug users throughout the country.

“Essentially, one of the drugs which has been coming up on occasion is a whole group of drugs which we call the 2C drugs,” he said.

His research group was yet to analyse data from their interviews in the second half of last year, but previous research suggested that the 2C drug group was becoming more common, but was still quite rare.

“They’re not particularly new in a sense of a chemical substance but new to being sold as a recreational drug.”

- A previous version of this story said Environmental Science and Research confirmed to Close Up that a sample of Dime was found to contain an illegal ingredient, 2CE.

- Fairfax Media

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