In defence of legal highs

It’s my body and I can ruin it however I like


So if you’re cool, or you have cool mates, or you just watched Skins back in the day, you’ll know that drug abuse is part and parcel of being an exciting young person. It’s a little-known fact that you’re actually indestructible until about 25, so why not right?

If there’s been one constant all throughout human history, it is that. Your little sister is probably railing pills every other night and she’s only in year seven. Your parents snuck out of school to smoke pot (or grass, as it was called in those days) behind bike sheds. That one great-grandfather who was in the Werhmacht and nobody really likes to talk about was off his nut on speed all the way through Russia. Trying to fight against our innate need to get fucked on the reg is like Canute and the tide, but more boring.

Looks great sober, let alone legally high

Looks great sober, let alone legally high

Alas, those professional NIMBYs in Westminster are determined to stop that damned tide regardless. Bans here and criminalisations there are the order of the day – the less clued-up amongst you might think that all the fun drugs are banned. Oh, but to be that naïve again.

That right, there’s a whole subset of drugs made unique by the very fact that they are entirely legal – some sort of “legal highs”, as it were. To hear the gubmint tell it, these are like illegal drugs times 1000 and will almost certainly turn you into a gibbering wreck, but I’m here to say fuck that noise.

Firstly, it’s important to divide legal highs into two types: those that are legal because they’re fine for you, and those that are legal because they’re too new to have been criminalised (RCs).

The best example of the former is probably NOS, a.k.a. nitrous oxide, N2O, laughing gas or, hilariously, hippy crack. Everyone knows this one – anyone who’s ever been to a festival, or a house party, or even just wandered the streets of Manchester on a night out will have either partook or seen others partake. It’s dead simple: canister, cracker, balloon, done. Also, incredibly moreish.

Brass knuckles for the gigglefits crowd

Brass knuckles for the gigglefits crowd

Are they dangerous? The Mail certainly seems to think so, calling them hippy crack and railing against them whenever their writers haven’t seen an immigrant looking at them shifty in the past few minutes. To be fair, it does largely work by depleting the oxygen available to your brain and replacing it with-know what? doesn’t matter. Oxygen is probably the only gas that should be in your brain.

But what’re the odds of you popping your clogs on the stuff? FRANK reckons you’re pretty much in the clear, saying the risk comes from too much oxygen starvation, for example: “If a plastic bag is used that covers both nose and mouth”. If you’re covering your nose and mouth with a plastic bag to get high, there’s not much damage oxygen starvation can really do to you that your life choices haven’t already.

The best bit? You can pick them up on Amazon for a pittance. Give ’em out at your next house party and you’ll be both safe and popular, and have enough money leftover for a few lines of the good stuff when they run out.

So if that’s the established, fun ones out the way, what about the RCs? For one, you have Spice, a.k.a. K2 or synthetic cannabis. We have a bit of a chequered relationship with Spice here at Lancaster, but if everyone stopped taking something just because someone almost died from it then the club scene would be a dire one indeed.

#tbt that time Grizedale sucked at drugs

#tbt that time Grizedale sucked at drugs

Vice certainly don’t seem enamoured with the stuff, with pieces on how it’s ruining everywhere from New York to Russia to even sunny Manchester. But Vice rhymes with Spice so what do they know? No, you want to hear what your favourite internationally-respected organ of student journalism has to say on the matter.

Marketing second year TB, who once accidentally took Spice that she thought was weed described her experience: “I slept in a ditch after. #sophistication.”

You’re at university anyway. You’re never more than two degrees of connection away from someone who can get you weed. Have a little self-respect and swerve the Spice. You’ll thank us later.

The risk with Spice is that as the government bans one molecular structure for synthetic THC, the companies selling Spice have to quickly whip up another with similar effects but different enough to evade the ban for a while. This is similar to why MXE and NBOMe were originally legal before being swiftly locked down.

This makes them more dangerous, with you effectively using your soft, squishy body as the guinea pig in a series of medical trials on untested chemicals – but so what?

When Neil Armstrong first walked on the Moon, did they know he wasn’t going to just shoot through it? Or melt or something? I have no idea, but I bet there were a fair few unknowns. Human progress is all made on the backs of those brave, beautiful souls who put themselves forward, risk their lives so that the rest of us can stagger along in their wake.

Pretty much a 100% accurate depiction of tripping on RCs (source: Public Domain)

Pretty much a 100% accurate depiction of tripping on RCs

If you want trip balls on some hip new RC that was only invented by some Czech methhead last Wednesday, then by God you’d better go for it. You’re an intrepid psychonaut, paving the way for those with less robust constitutions or devil-may-care attitudes. Just write it up on erowid after, yeah? Else it was all for naught.