Shulgin produced these drugs for a small group of psychedelic aficionados who would use them in controlled environments, taking notes and recording their effects. His goals were to document and expand the limits of human consciousness. These reports ended up in his seminal 1995 book, PIHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved), which also laid out the chemical pathways to produce them.
The PIHKAL user entries on 2CP are abstract, revealing and, on first impressions, positive: “Erotic was excellent. Music good. Eyes-closed imagery very different place than usual experiences. Slow, calm, strong images from an area that has no apparent connection with usual waking world, yet underlies all of it … Excellent feeling the next day.”
But there follows a warning: “There was one report of an experience in which a single dosage of 16mg was clearly an overdose, with the entire experiment labelled a physical disaster, not to be repeated. A consistent observation is that there may not be too much latitude in dosage between that which would be modest, or adequate, and that which would be excessive.”
Translated, that means: “Don’t mess with this compound. The difference between a fun time and an ambulance is tiny.”
So how did this oddball drug make it into the wild? The answer is digital. In the early days of the web, in the mid-90s, new drugs such as this became available to anyone with a net connection as Chinese chemical firms would carry out custom syntheses for the psyche-savvy.
Communities of psychonauts coalesced around sites such as Bluelight and Erowid and shared their experiences. The drugs existed in a legal grey zone in the US, and became fairly common on the crustier margins of the UK rave scene at that time.
These drugs are potent and not for the casual user: a gramme of MDMA, at 1000mg, contains eight standard doses. A gramme of 2CP contains 120x8mg doses – and these doses must be weighed and triple-checked on accurate scales able to measure to three decimal places. A 8mg dose reads 0.008 on a milligramme scale. Get the wrong scales, and you’re overdosing by a factor of 10. Fill your capsules by eye, or by dipping a finger in a bag while hammered, and you’re risking death or permanent disability.
In short, none of these drugs, known as research chemicals due to the lack of clinical data on their effects, are substances to take casually, or to give to anyone without a track record of serious psychedelic use. They are never to be mixed with other drugs or alcohol, or to be used in a festival or club setting.
But nowadays, anyone can find hard drugs such as this with a few clicks of a mouse. When I was writing my book Drugs 2.0 in 2013, nine EU-based customers of a firm were sent packages containing 2C-P – mislabelled as buphedrone, a mephedrone variant with a standard dose of around 80-100 mg. Many people took a tenfold overdose of 2CP. I spoke to one of them:
“It started with sweating profusely and uncontrollable muscle spasms and got worse from there. The trip lasted over 30 hours…The night was chaotic and apocalyptic, no sleep, heavily disorientated.”
A week later, she took it again. Same deal, but worse.
“I loved the moment the sun came up. I spent dawn naked on my terrace. The world around me looked like a churning and swirling Van Gogh painting – only much sharper, more precise. [I was] a naked animal, poisoned and exhausted,” she said.
If you’re still determined to use these or other equally potent drugs, then read Erowid.org, properly. Know the correct, minimum dose. Before you take it, send the drug to Wedinos.org or Energy Control in Spain and have it tested and identified.
Talk to experienced users. Know your source, know your dose, test your scales, and never use any new drug alone, or in conjunction with anything else, including booze. Never redose in a single night if the drug doesn’t have the expected effect; it might just be coming on slowly. Never take mystery drugs off friends or from random people at parties, clubs or festivals, no matter how high you are. Have a sober tripsitter to watch over you if you choose to dose, and get them to take a note of what has been used.
And in the case of an emergency – if the user’s breathing is laboured or if extreme confusion sets in, call an ambulance immediately. You won’t be arrested and you might save a friend’s life.
Mike Power is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to Mixmag. Follow him on Twitter
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