RCs Legal Status

List of all controlled substances in the EU

Download the entire report here (830 pages PDF)
Note that it is from 2006 so slightly outdated.


Laws on research chemicals in the UK

The United Kingdom is widely regarded as having some of the most focussed and robust legislation covering research chemical legality. Under UK analogue law, there is no need to demonstrate intent for human consumption. Instead specific chemical derivatives of controlled substances are explicitly identified in highly detailed analogue laws. This effectively makes whole families of existing and conceivable research chemicals controlled. These laws are dynamic and frequently amended to prohibit novel structural families of research chemical.

Since the U.K. system relies on explicitly identifying chemical modifications which are considered to be analogues, novel chemicals can be designed to circumvent the existing laws, if only for a short period of time. An example of this is the beta-ketone family of research chemicals. Despite being analogues of both cathinone and methcathinone (both class C controlled substances) there is currently no law stating that substituted methcathinone derivatives are considered to be analogues. Additionally there is no clause indicating that beta-keto modifications of substituted amphetamines are controlled. For this reason mephedrone and methylone remain technically legal to possess, despite their apparent structural similarity to cathinones, methamphetamine, and in the case of methylone, to MDMA.

Research Chemical families specifically controlled under U.K. law:

  • 2C-x (substituted phenethylamines) – class A, last refined in Misuse of Phenethylamines Act 2002
  • DOx (substituted amphetamines) – class A, last refined in Misuse of Phenethylamines Act 2002
  • JWH-x (synthetic cannabinoids) – class B, amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, effective from 23rd December 2009

Piperazine derivatives – class C, amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, effective from 23rd December 2009. Piperazine itself is also controlled under the Medicines Act.

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Laws on research chemicals in Spain

The rules here regarding RCs are basicly the same as in the UK, the only difference is that laws on scheduling substances will be passed later than in the UK: usually a few months to a year after a UK ban is in place (e.g mephedrone & methylone). The use and posession of any, even scheduled, subtances, within the premises of ones own home is decriminalized and not punishable by law. For more information check the UK drug laws section.


Laws on research chemicals in the USA

The U.S. currently has no legislation which explicitly identifies individual research chemicals as scheduled. However the term ‘Research Chemical’ was specifically applied in an attempt to avoid prosecution under the Federal Analog Act (see History of Research Chemicals). Since a majority of research chemicals bear some functional and structural similarity to a scheduled chemical, they could theoretically be considered to be scheduled provided that intent for human consumption can be demonstrated. Precedent has already been set that vendors of research chemicals may be contravening this law (see Operation Web Tryp).

While those involved in distribution of research chemicals have been shown to be vulnerable, there are currently no known cases of prosecutions against individuals for possession of a controlled substance analogue. As a result the legality of mere possession of such chemicals remains a grey area, as it is unclear whether intent for human consumption is demonstrable.

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