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Can I Get High Legally?

By John Clarke
Legal Highs


Last Thursday at 9pm, a programme being shown on BBC3 called “Can I get High Legally?” caught my interest. Not having a TV ourselves, we patiently waited for it to become available on iPlayer whilst the orders poured in – a massive amount, far more than usual. Something in the programme had obviously made legal highs seem pretty appealing. Or had it?

Our orders per day. Guess when the documentary was on.

Our orders per day. Guess when the documentary was on.

George Lamb was presenting, which made me wary from the outset. What can this uber-trendy, slightly poncy metrosexual reminiscent of other Camden boys like Noel Fielding and Russell Brand have to say about the science and safety of legal highs? Well, as it turns out, nothing. The description of the programme on the BBC website claims that “George Lamb dives into the world of legal highs, meeting users and sellers, finding out why they are legal and if this means they can also be called safe”. In actual fact, the programme consisted mainly of Lamby boy wandering round Camden (where else?) looking shocked. You can buy legal highs in shops? There’s proper websites selling them? It all actually looks professional? That’s because they’re legal, idiot. We’ve already established that. Unless he feels that the purpose of the programme was to answer the question in the title, which seems pretty pointless – “Can I get high legally?” – well yes, of course you can.

This brings me on to my first major issue with the programme (and believe me, there were many, but I’ll only rant about a select few here); where were the mentions of alcohol and tobacco? They literally did not get mentioned once, which I think is pretty appalling. Holy shit George, did you know you can just wander in off the street and buy a pint? And there’s proper shops selling it? Regardless of one’s opinion about the “differences” between drugs and alcohol, it is a mind altering substance that you can buy legally and with minimal restrictions, just like the legal highs George Lamb is horrified to see available, displayed in attractive ways and with nice pictures on the packets to entice customers. What about the Martini advert with George Clooney and all the sexy women? Why is that different? What about all the casual references equating getting drunk with having a good time in popular media? Why is all of that OK, in fact so OK that it doesn’t even get a mention? People just do not see that intoxication is intoxication, and if one kind is acceptable then we need to think about why. George Lamb voices his concerns throughout the programme that legal highs are so dangerous precisely because they’re legal – because that means everyone thinks they’re safe and isn’t careful enough. I think that is a valid point, but where it applies most strongly is with alcohol and tobacco, substances that most people don’t even consider to be “drugs”. How many deaths are there per year from legal highs, George, compared to alcohol and tobacco?

These are the kinds of questions he should have been answering, which brings me onto my second point. It’s hard to pin down, but there was just a general lack of substance. Where were the statistics, the graphs, the interviews lasting more than 20 seconds, the facts? This programme, these questions, had such potential, but it just wasn’t in depth enough. He doesn’t ask the right questions, he misunderstands or misrepresents (or both) the points made by the experts and he whizzes through the whole thing not really covering anything. They set up a night out, for example, where a group of three students were to take some legal highs and record their experiences throughout the night. What we in fact got was three sweaty faced goons grinning into the camera, edited with some generic “rave” footage. What did they take? Pretty basic question. How much did they take? Were they drinking alcohol? How long after ingestion was the footage filmed? Why didn’t the BBC choose to show more than 3 or 4 seconds of footage at a time so that we could actually get a look at them – were they sweating, slurring, delirious? We didn’t get the answer to any of these questions and considering that this was presented as a case study of people taking legal highs, I think it’s pretty shocking journalism. But perhaps I’m being unfair – we did learn during a meeting with Lamby in a greasy spoon the next day that they felt a bit rough. Well big woop.

Another massive misrepresentation was the case study involving Guernsey. Guernsey, for those of you who don’t know, is mega strict on illegal drugs. This legislation has obviously been highly successful as they now have a massive problem with legal highs, as the teenagers and young adults (because it is mostly them) can’t get hold of the real stuff. George Lamb didn’t quite seem to be able to make his mind up here – whilst he explains how unusual the situation is there and seems pretty sure that it’s because of the super tough drug laws, he then questions teenagers on the street and expects us to be shocked that they’ve all tried legal highs. Of course they’ve all tried legal highs, they all take them there, that’s the whole point and why you went Guernsey! It’s not representational of the population at large so I really didn’t get the point of this section at all. His condescending attitude towards users of legal highs also really pissed me off. He got down with the kids and joined them in their car whilst they smoked some kind of legal smoking mix (probably Spice) from their hand-crafted Coke bottle bong (we’ve all been there) and questioned them about the safety of what they were doing. When they replied that they were aware that it was risky, he was incredulous – fancy knowing that something you’re doing is risky and doing it anyway, how stupid, right? Right? Well, no. Unless Lamby boy’s never crossed the road, got in a car, lit up a fag or basically done anything ever, he’s being a total hypocrite. As it turns out, he actually admits to having taken cocaine and ecstasy during the program, making his hypocrisy even more apparent. Being aware of the risks of something and doing it anyway doesn’t make you an idiot, it means you’ve considered the risks and decided they’re minimal, or at least minimal compared to the benefits. Yes, an aeroplane might crash, but you want to go on holiday, and it’ll probably be fine. People make these kind of decisions every day.

Another aspect of the programme boasted about in the description is that Lamb talks to “sellers”. Well, he actually talks to one, and he was a complete arsehole about it. He wanders into shops and rings people up wanting to talk to them on camera right now, and then treats it as some kind of admission of wrong-doing when they say no. Finally, Chris from, a friend of ours, agrees to talk to him and George is off to Potseeds HQ in Totnes. The way it is edited makes Chris look like a lone man who sells drugs out of a shed, rather than the manager of a busy, successful and completely above board business, and Lamb’s tone is mocking throughout. He picks up packets off the shelves, laughing at their funny names, in a scene akin to a crap drugs education lesson at school where you’re warned off drugs as “only dopes smoke dope”. The worst bit though is when Lamb chooses to assess what Chris has said in the voiceover, recorded after he’s left Totnes, rather than addressing his criticisms to him when he has a chance to reply. Chris hesitated, we are told, which obviously makes him a bastard and a liar and a downright horrible human being (or words to that effect). Or, it just makes him a normal man who isn’t trained for TV, who knows every single syllable he utters will be analysed to death and used against himself and the entire legal highs industry.

The final bit of the programme that really got my goat actually had the potential to be very interesting. Lamb goes to speak to an actual scientist (just one though – toxicologist Dr. John Ramsey from St George’s College at the University of London) about legal highs and he is told that MDMA is probably safer than many legal highs as it’s been around for such a long time we know how to deal with it. Well, I totally agree – pure, pharmaceutical-grade MDMA is almost definitely safer than legal highs. In fact, it’s one of the safest drugs around, so saying that it’s safer than legal highs is kind of a non point – it’s also safer than alcohol. But, more importantly, pure, pharmaceutical-grade MDMA is not what we should be talking about here – it’s not what is available in clubs or pubs or whatever to the average customer. Ecstasy, MDMA’s dirty little sister, is what must be considered when you compare illegal drugs to legal drugs, as that is the alternative. Even street bought MDMA is nowhere near 100% MDMA. This leads me on to the final, and in my opinion, worst moment of this documentary, where George Lamb fucks up yet another incredible chance to actually learn something from someone who knows what they’re talking about. He’s talking to Matt Bowden (who we also spoke to later for comment), the guy who made BZP big in New Zealand, as a reaction to the massive crystal meth problem they have there. Matt categorically says that BZP is not “safe”, it’s “safer”, but if people are going to do it, “safer” is better than nothing – my sentiment exactly. At this point Lamb demonstrates a display of ignorance of Brass Eye proportions when he says that he’s been told that “taking an ecstasy” is safer than taking legal highs. F.U.K.D. & B.O.M.B.D. By this point I was practically screaming at the screen, and I bet I don’t need to tell you why as I’m sure you all have a much higher IQ than Lamby evidently does – the scientist said MDMA, for christ’s sake, not ecstasy, and that’s a pretty fucking important difference. After this, Lamb takes salvia and makes a total tit of himself but I was sick of his bullshit by then (although I did notice that he didn’t even explain what salvia was… considering that he’d been talking about synthetic legal highs all the way through it might be important to mention that salvia is a plant, and is in no way a legal high).

I had many more complaints about this programme, from the trivial (like Lamby’s stupid highlights/streaks/whatever the hell they are) to the not-so-trivial (what about all the legal highs out there that aren’t synthetic? They didn’t get a mention at all, other than salvia which he didn’t differentiate from everything else he’d been talking about), but those are the main ones. I wouldn’t mind if the programme had concluded that legal highs were all bad, as long as it was based on some interesting, reliable evidence. As it was, there wasn’t really a conclusion at all, and I felt like I hadn’t learned anything. There were some interesting ideas (following users on a night out, for example) and some very interesting contributors. It’s a great topic and, as legal highs become more prevalent, something that needs to be discussed, but uninformed dirge like this contributes nothing other than yet more misunderstandings. Given the BBC’s track record, with programmes like Horizon definitively stating that popular legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than MDMA and cannabis (watch that episode here), I had high hopes that this programme would give a well researched, balanced insight into the legal highs industry. Instead, we got a overgrown gawky teenager marvelling at “druggies” and consistently boasting about his own supposed experience with illegal drugs (which did nothing but make him look like a hypocrite), topped off with an image of salvia use no more insightful than “woah, man”. Disappointing work, BBC (But thanks for the extra sales ;-))

Hopefully I can find a video of this somewhere to post up here, but no luck yet.

UPDATE: Here it is! Unfortunately, the site it’s hosted on will probably try and sell you a girlfriend or something before you can actually watch the video. Click the red play button and close the pop up window if one appears. Then, the play button turns green. Click it again and you can watch the entire thing:


20 Responses to Can I Get High Legally?

  1. PoisonedV says:

    I can’t say I’m too surprised after seeing an ‘investigative’ report on salvia every other week, or reports proclaiming the danger of spice gold (Before it was illegal in the US, of course)

  2. happyhigh says:

    I suppose there was no way that anything good was going to come from this ‘documentary’ (except for your extra sales 😉 ), if the BBC were to say anything good about legal highs it would be all over the news the next day that the BBC wants your kids to get high.

    The bit about Salvia was what annoyed me most, I hardly ever see Salvia marketed as a legal high, and on the websites I have come across, they normally state the effects and what to expect.

    I have tried Salvia myself and I would never describe the high as a ‘buzzy buzz’ like Lamb did. He also says 5x is the least potent when plain leaf is.

    And the constant comparison of legal highs to sweets, I think sweets are easier for a child to get hold of.

    Here is the link to iPlayer if that is what you are looking for.

  3. Ken says:

    Hi Sync

    Hope you are doing well..

    In a world that is disconnected from spiritual roots, soul truth, and physical evidence, this blog is very good.

    Greed, power and individual ego importance have created a skew in how the “afraid mind” reports evidence. ?? Evidence? Hard to come by when you don’t understand the animal.

    Legal highs? WTF is legal highs? A group of money grubbing low moral gang bangers? Is this the world we live in? YES !!!

    Well I say F*** legal and F*** the vampires.

    No tax, no law, and no BS. Time to break on through to the other side and ride the snake to the unchangeble shift of time coming to drown this current train of thought based on Network gay fag mentality.

  4. Synchronium says:

    HappyHigh: Thanks for the link. Totally agree about the salvia thing. That was ridiculous. I guess that was about as positive as it could be considering how negligible the negatives were.

    Ken: are you legally high right now?! That post was by the misses btw, not myself. 🙂

  5. Ken says:

    Hi Sync,

    Actually I have maintained an ongoing legal high for over a year to experience and experiment daily to find any changes in mindset, etc.

    I have found I am very calm and at peace, yet I do get very disturbed that the vast majority of the population is still being fed vomit as the truth.

    If I could learn to share my opinions and experiences with better writing (good journalism), then I am sure these embarrising posts would cease. 😉

  6. Al says:

    Thanks for this blog! Very informative, let’s hope Salvia remains legal! The situation in the US is kinda 50/50, which is a lot better than 100/0 lol Basically, some states are banning it outright, while other are saying, no way, we are keeping the herb legal because of its medicinal potential and low abuse potential. I wish they’d just ban it to those under 18, that way there won’t be any outrage and the herb will remain legal for the rest of us. That’s how they did in California and Maine, considering it in Arizona, Texas and Maryland.

    Just wanted to add, for those in the US, look into the K2 herbal mix, it’s truly an incredible blend:

    And for those in the UK, is your best bet! Excellent company!!

  7. sam (I know you off drugs forum btw synchronium) says:

    I think the one good point made in this program was that legal highs are fairly unregulated, as much so as I’d say some street drugs. Because (and I contribute this to prohibition itself) is because these aren’t sold for human consumption the regulation them around them is pretty lax, and because of the grey area legality of such chemicals often the chemical often isn’t listed on the packet. which could bring problems in certain situations i.e paramedics needing to know what someone has taken. I’m in two minds as to whether legal highs are such a safe alternatives. I think research chemicals are the safer option, becase although the chemicals are fairly new we at least know what chemical we’re taking whereas when I buy a legal high all I know that I’m taking is “Doves” or “strong as hell” I’ve got know Idea whether these contain mephedrone or some MDMA analogue I’ve never heard of. If I bought a research chemical I at least know I’m getting BK-MDMA or 2-ci.

    I agree lamb spouted some utter shite throughout and at one point sat with a girl talking about why legal highs should be banned while a bar was serving a legal high to customers without george and irritating, kill joy chubby girl paying an attention whatsoever.

    On the point about MDMA being safer than legal highs, I found it hypocrytical later when George say “Ecstasy is safer than legal highs” I actually laughed because he doesn’t know that at least half if not more Ecstasy tablets contain no MDMA and infact mCPP, BZP etc just cut down legal highs.

    Obviously as far as guernsey goes even with the unkown safety of JWH-018 etc smoking that has got to be better than the nasty concoction of chemicals and crap that make up the alternative to Spice: Soapbar. AFIK guernsey rarely if ever see’s decent skunk.

    I don’t think outlawing these legal highs is at all what’s required what we need is tighter regulation not the complete unregulation that prohibition would entail.

    It would be nice, in an ideal world, that we could walk into a chemist and buy MDMA/MDxx, Mephedrone, and the rest made by pharmecutical companies with an ingrediants list, exact dosages, wieght of pills and a little booklet to tell us all the risk and side effects to look out for.

    Did anyone notice that during the interview with the “psychonaught” that the edit came just as the guy mentioned regulation. Infact the editing throughout the show as synchronium says was awful and completely misrepresented the people who gave opions other than “legal highs are bad lets ban them”

    Finally goerge lamb can’t pull bongs for shit, he barely even inhaled any smoke (and the one where he felt some effect the bong was still full of smoke, my girlfriend can pull bongs better than he can), I think if I took ecstasy with goerge lamb I’d end up twatting him, he’s so irritating he makes my skin crawl.

  8. Synchronium says:

    Sam: Interesting points about the rarity of good weed in Guernsey and the editing.

    One point that pissed me off especially was around the same time as that interview. They cut to some footage of patients with a condition similar to Parkinson’s. As far as I know, the only drug to ever cause rapid-onset Parkinsonian symptoms is MPTP, which is a completely different kettle of fish. For anyone that doesn’t know, here’s a quote from my essay on Species Differences:

    One final example would be the varying MPTP toxicity between species. MPTP can be formed as an unintended byproduct in the manufacture of MPPP, a synthetic opioid with great potential for abuse. MPTP on its own is not harmful, but MPP+, the natural metabolite of MPTP, is a potent neurotoxin. MPP+ is produced via MonoAmine Oxidase B in neuroglia and the capillary endothelia comprising the blood-brain barrier, and results in rapid-onset Parkinsonian symptoms barely indistinguishable from typical Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms are also reduced by L-DOPA, a drug commonly used in Parkinson’s disease. Rats, however, are almost entirely immune to MPTP toxicity, most likely due to a different level of expression of MAO B. Mice, on the other hand, do produce MPP+, but clear it from their brain in a matter of hours, unlike the primate brain, in which clearance can take days.

    In my opinion, the illegal manufacture of an opioid agonist to feed an addiction is quite different from the stimulant and hallucinogenic research chemicals which are commonly available. While no actual medical research has been done, a lot of usage data is available from which we can estimate their relative dangers. Long term data might not be available but what about recently marketed pharmaceuticals? A lot of these research chemicals have more long term data associated with them than the latest medicines.

  9. PUFF420 says:

    I live in Australia, and Salvia is illegal here, but I can buy PUFF, a completely HERBAL based concoction of Zornia latifolia, Lagochilus inebrians, Scutellaria nana, Pedicularis Densiflora and Eschscholzia lemmonii. I do not know what these herbs are, though I know some are Skullcap, Indian Warrior and Wild Lettuce (I think). I just want to know that although herbal, this product is safer than cannabis…
    Haha I sound like a fuckhead, but I am just curious, and paranoid i guess. Could anyone help me out?
    Thanks buds,

  10. PUFF420 says:

    Haha love it though 🙂

  11. yourmum says:

    he didnt say boshing random mdma pills is safer, he said mdma is safer.
    it is
    if its pure, it is safer, its been documented more, researched more.
    to be honest there was a lot of waffle, but he is right, people have no idea what are in them, and the worst thing is
    they are the reason why the pill market have gone to ShiT. because people are making them legally and them passing them off as ecstacy.

  12. Krissy Mckale says:

    I think here are better things to do with a life than examine the minutiae of a programme about legal highs.
    Why have all this shit in your head at all?
    Any substance with the potential and user based likelihood of damaging braincells is plain bumb, legal highs, illegal highs, excess alcohol the lot.who’s kidding who here? behind the ‘legal drug friendly’ approaches and opinions are lots of nasty little capitalists with either a disregard for ethical behaviour or a damaged vision of what is ‘ok’ due to substance abuse.

  13. Jen says:

    I think every one needs to stop talking shit about some ones thoughts.

  14. J-LOC says:

    I smoke a lot of what is called in Southern Idaho as Heysmoke or Hamster, due to its hamster bedding like appearence. I’m sure it contains the chemical JWH-018, but looks a bit different than a few brands like Spice, Triad, and Euphoria. Basically it looks more… healthy and herbal? I dont know if thats what I want to say, but with study of my side effects and personal health, I’d have to say it might be better than all the other brands. Synthetic cannaboid is a synthetic drug, but still…..

  15. Tamara says:

    awwwe yes you can get high legally.. i f-ing loooooove K2.

  16. "Sam" says:

    [ Synchronium: Read “sam’s” full story Here]

    I was the last guy on the show. the paranoid delusional one yeh?

    What a fucking farse. I sat there an hour giving them a detailed interview about the state of affairs in the industry and they cut it down to fuck all and made me look like a fool.

    I warned people how dangerous Mephedrone could be due to stucture and dangerous impurities.

    I explained about GSMS / HPLC testing and such.

    Explained why people like me use drugs and what it can help with and guide people.

    he was very undersanding and suprised I had an answer for _everything_

    Yet they cut me down and put in ONE reply to a question which was not even the correct answer to it.

    They cut me down so much cause they KNEW I was rite. They couldnt use the material in there show it made too much sense. I tried to get the recording afterwrads but no luck.

    Fucking – Farse

    I have lost faith in the BBC they can go fuck themselves.

  17. Jack says:

    Haha, just watched this, it’s disgraceful…
    Ironic how some of the interviews were filmed in pubs…
    Rant rant rant…

  18. Paton says:

    Ah I’m not gonna bother watching it.

    I was thinking, “hmmm who is george lamb anyway…google…oh no”.

    Let’s not bother, I’ve seen him on tv before and the way he presents himself and stuff is awful.

    You summed up the show for me in that post anyway, what was said and what should’ve been said.

    Sounds like all it needed was a better presenter.

  19. The DSR(difinitive spice recipe) says:

    The D.S.R.(definitive spice recipe)


    h=filler herb

    Tools and ingredients:
    jwh-018(1 gram)
    HDPE small spray bottle(walmart)
    Scale that measures milligrams accurately(mine does not)
    pyrex measuring cup(walmart)
    long, glass bowl or glass baking dish(anything will do if you can spread your herbs out.
    100% pure acetone(I used walmart nail polish remover)
    Herb or filler(I used damiana)
    [you can pick up damiana at your local mexican store, they have racks with a whole bunch of spices and powders. It costs about $1 per 7grams(quarter oz)] I also found wormwood but i do not recommend it, it smells and tastes nasty or, order it online which is alot cheaper if you can find
    a vendor with no or low shipping rates.

    Preparing to make your own blend:
    first you must measure out your amounts of herb and jw.
    I figured out P=J/H

    h=filler herb

    the ratio of jwh-018 to herb is the key to how potent you like your spice. If your a newbie, maybe .025 potency is okay.
    1/39=0.025 if your an advanced smoker and have a high tolerance to jwh 1/22=0.045, Its not for the beginner.

    I dissolved .3mg of jw into 10-15ml of ace. I put the ace into my pyrex measuring cup and then put in the jw in and mixed it, i didnt mix it for very long just long enough for it to dissolve, about 2-3 minutes
    then I put the mix into my little HDPE(walmart)spray bottle
    I spread my 14 grams of herb in my long glass baking dish(i dont know what the significance of glass as the dish but I decided to use glass).
    I tried to spread it as flat as possible and then I started spraying it with the solution.
    you really dont want to saturate it, so thats why its important to use a minimal amount of acetone. my spray bottle will not work properly with less than about 20ml.
    some .025 will provoke a buzz in anybody so dont overdo it
    If your going to use a whole gram or more, try to use as little ace as possible. just enough to coat your herbs. I know other posts say 4ml but ive found that impossible.
    15-25ml max per gram. and thats still a little much but many
    spray bottles cannot work properly without at least 20ml of liquid.

  20. amy says:

    i found, after watching the video and realizing all your points for myself, that you are completely and utterly right about the programme. its basically george lamb repeating himself over and over again. not good.

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