Research Chemicals

Research chemicals are chemical substances used by scientists for medical and scientific research purposes. One characteristic of a research chemical is that it is for laboratory research use only; a research chemical is not intended for human or veterinary use. This distinction is required on the labels of research chemicals, and is what exempts them from regulation under parts 100-740 in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (21CFR).

The History of Designer Drugs and Research Chemicals
During the 1980s and early 1990s, the problem with designer drugs was so severe that the DEA was permitted the ability to immediately, but temporarily, schedule drugs that emerged. The first time this emergency scheduling power was used was in the case of MDMA.

During the late 1990s through the early 2000s, the Internet led to a spike in designer drug sales. Designer drug marketers began referring to these drugs around this time as “research chemicals.” The idea behind this change in terminology was that if drugs were sold with the supposed intent of being used in scientific research, a seller could avoid the kinds of legal repercussions that are associated with the sale of drugs with the intent of human consumption.
Research chemicals often contain ingredients that are similar to amphetamine. These substances tweak chemical levels inside the brain, throwing off the natural processes that regulate body temperature and heart rate. As a result, people who take drugs like this can develop a speeding heart, thundering at an incredibly fast pace, and the heart might give out when it’s asked to endure this kind of pressure. According to a study in the journal BMJ, one in four heart attacks in people ages 18 to 45 can be linked to cocaine use, and many more can be linked to illicit drugs that are similar to amphetamine. It’s a serious risk in people who abuse research chemicals.
Research chemicals are new synthetic substances that mimic existing drugs. Structurally they are almost identical to the original drug, while just different enough not to be classified as the same substances. For example, one atom of the molecular structure is replaced or removed altogether. This means it’s not quite the same anymore, leading to a different effect.

Note that the new compound will still have a psychoactive effect. A substance that is structurally similar to another substance is called a chemical analogue. Methylone (MDMC) is a close analogue of MDMA.

Research chemicals are new and psychoactive chemical structures. Because they’re new compounds, they can circumvent the law for their illegal counterpart and be sold without immediate risk of prosecution. That’s why looking for analogues pays off for certain people. Research chemicals are also called designer drugs and legal highs.