(TFC)– From November’s last week’s surfaced a troubling story from the psychedelic underground. A German “therapist” was arrested after confessing to having administered research chemicals, not classical psychedelics like mushrooms or LSD, in a clandestine experiment. As obscure as the compound used–Bromo-DragonFLY–the case hurts efforts to pull psychedelic research from the fringe.
The 53-year-old man, identified only as Stefan S. per German privacy laws, was just recently convicted for events in 2015. According to the Associated Press, Stefan gave drugs to volunteers in a “seminar” in the northeastern German town Handeloh. About twenty-seven participants were hospitalized with several side-effects including delirium and cramps. Specifically, Stefan used a research chemical, or designer drug, known as 2C-E. Active at micro-doses, 2C-compounds are normally marketed as an LSD-like experience.
According to Telegraph UK, the seminar was attended by alternative health practitioners and some medical professionals. Despite the phrases “seminar” and “experiment” being used interchangeably in reports, it’s unclear what exactly occurred under Stefan’s oversight. His gathering’s purpose is entirely unknown. However, prosecutors noted Stefan was a trained psychotherapist and suspected he was performing consciousness expanding experiments on participants.
Other drugs, including LSD and cocaine, were also allegedly recovered from the group. Stefan admitted the LSD and coke was his, stating the LSD was for participants who didn’t want to take 2C-E. Those volunteers, it seems, didn’t want the research chem due to its negative health effects.
Some reports state the therapist, or perhaps doctor, Stefan S. gave drugs to 27 participants while others say 29. Additionally, it seems Stefan wasn’t fully aware of what he was administering. Although jail time isn’t on the table, Stefan faces a revoked medical license and monitored probation.
The bizarre chaos medics reputedly witnessed was perhaps caused by 2C-E, or another drug Stefan didn’t know was mixed in his capsules. It was DragonFLY, or Bromo-DragonFLY, an obscure psychedelic research chem. Interestingly, it earns its name from the molecule’s physical resemblance to dragonflies.
A Research Chem Crash Course
The Fifth Column News discussed the differences between classical psychedelics and research chems in a recent piece. That report highlighted overdoses caused by 25I-Nbome, a popular LSD knock-off. The biggest difference between classical psych’s (LSD, Psilocybin, DMT, Peyote, etc) is their extensive history of use or study in humans.
Although extremely outlawed internationally, psychedelic research is beginning to flourish once more. Decades ago, however, LSD particularly but also magic mushrooms were studied by independent academics, and governments. Before exploration ended, a data-set was accumulated suggesting instances of significant therapeutic benefit.
Research chemicals, on the other hand, are products of keeping these powerful compounds in the black market. People experiment when they can’t get classical psychedelics. That’s why 25I, 2C-E, DragonFLY, and countless others arrived. They mascaraed as classical psych’s, and endure only through the lack of regulation of verification in the black market.
The endogenous brain hormone DMT, psilocybin–the active ingredient in magic mushrooms–and LSD are not known to be highly toxic to humans. While the first two have been used for centuries by indigenous peoples, LSD was discovered in the 1950’s. Some other compounds like mescaline do pose risks, but these are well documented.
People who use research chem’s, on the other hand, are guinea pigs. With limited success stories, these largely untested substances are often also linked to negative outcomes like Stefan’s “seminar”. Many designer drugs didn’t even exist before the late 90’s, and mid 2000’s. 25I-Nbome, for example, was discovered in 2003 but didn’t hit drug circles until 2010. By then, reports of overdoses filled European and American news. Like many designer drugs, DragonFLY included, 25I was so new governments hadn’t even scheduled it.
DragonFLY has been fronted as 2C-related compounds in the past. So in that sense, Stefan’s botched clandestine seminar is understandable. In high enough doses, the drug is associated with numerous side-effects including tissue death in one case.
DragonFLY has been linked to numerous overdoses throughout the Netherlands and even America. Its legality depends on the country, from schedule 1 to uncategorized. Because DragonFLY is distributed on paper tabs, you can’t tell what you’re taking.
Even for professionals, it seems, designer drugs are wild cards in the psychedelic underground. No medical use for DragonFly has been acknowledged to date. However, it’s origins are similar to that of 25I. Researchers developed Bromo-DragonFLY as a marker to highlight and trace serotonin-related brain receptors. It eventually escaped the lab, hit the streets, and quickly started wreaking havoc.
After DragonFLY guised as 2C compounds started killing kids in Oklahoma, the state government moved to criminalize it. Information including this PDF flyer were distributed, admitting even the Drug Enforcement Administration doesn’t fully understand DragonFLY.
In one Denmark case, an 18-year-old woman was found dead after overdosing on DragonFLY. The incident was mentioned in a 2012 document created by the Journal Of Addiction Research & Therapy. According to the report, an autopsy found the woman suffered “oedema of the lungs, slight oedema of the brain, enlargement of the spleen, irritation of the mucous membranes in the stomach and ischemic changes in the kidney.” By comparison, LSD and psilocybin aren’t known to cause this manner of physical damage. Numerous therapeutic uses for both compounds are, in fact, currently being studied and developed.
“BDF is a potent and long-acting psychedelic drug producing both LSD-like effects and amphetamine activation. Information currently available suggests that this drug can produce severe intoxication’s with serious medical complications including rhabdomyolysis, respiratory problems, liver and kidney failure, peripheral ischaemia and psychosis. Pharmacological potency and clinical toxicity associated with the consumption of this substance are reason of concern within the medical community. A better international cooperation is indispensable in order to monitoring and preventing the spread of this dangerous recreational substance.” — Conclusion of Journal Of Addiction study of Bromo-DragonFLY.
The Stefan S. Case, And Bringing
Psychedelic Research Out Of The Fringe
The real tragedy of incidents like Stefan’s seminar is the damage done to an already taboo field. Researching psychedelics breaks literally all the rules. Whether contained by government or religion, psychedelics have always operated on the fringes of human culture. It’s heretically pagan, or viciously illegal depending on the societal context.
That even applies to traditional cultures which utilize and respect psychedelics and their shamanic users. Shamans themselves are usually loners, sought by the tribe only when needed. The western underground, however, attaches fear and suspicion to even classic compounds.
Researchers and advocates trying to clandestinely circumvent these pitfalls is to be expected. Often times, the first signs of promise for psychedelics don’t come from the lab. Rather, they’re birthed in a teenager’s bedroom somewhere, then uploaded to tightly knit forums of thought. Whatever was happening under Stefan’s watch, and for how long, might recall this same sentiment.
That being said, self-experimentation comes with its own risks. When dealing with invisible molecules placed on a tab, or fused inside a gummy bear, caution is key. Preparation is vital, even life-saving. Unless you have a testing kit, it’s next to impossible for the average person to know what they’re getting. It’s a dynamic fueled by the lack of regulation in the black market, as with many drugs. This creates stories like the German seminar, filled with characters like Stefan S.
Saying most people don’t understand psychedelics is an understatement. High school drug classes normally claim the substances produce schizophrenia for a day. That’s not true. Others say LSD and mushrooms puts holes in the brain. That’s not true. Still, some suggest risks of addiction and overdose, for which is of limited concern for these substances.
So when stories like Stefan’s accidental run-in with Bromo-DragonFLY arise, it spins hysteria’s fan blades. For international researchers pushing psychedelic study, let alone legalization, it’s a major set back. Steps to normalize discrete, responsible psychedelic research may become more challenging.
If we’re being fair, however, as much blame placed on Stefan in courts could also be placed on the black market. How long had the mysterious practitioner been attending, and/or supplying clandestine psych presentations? If there was a lengthy history, then why weren’t there more instances like this? Perhaps because, as the court suggests, the mostly professional group indulged in professional inquiries.
Had Stefan known for certain the compounds he supplied were DragonFLY, would this have happened at all? Some participants of the seminar bust stated had they known what the compounds were, they wouldn’t have taken them. Was it Stefan’s mistake for attempting to venture with colleagues off the government’s reservation? Or was black market deregulation of psychedelics the true nail in the coffin for the collective? For the psychedelic underground and mainstream, as a whole?