Student journal publishes guide to making illegal drug

A student-run medical journal at Trinity College has been recalled after it published a step-by-step guide to making the illegal drug mephedrone.

Trinity News reports the Trinity Student Medical Journal has been withdrawn over an essay titled "Inspiration from Breaking Bad: The synthesis of mephedrone from legally-acquired domestic substances."

The essay provides a guide to creating a mephedrone-like substance from raw materials including graffiti remover and tinfoil.

"No in-depth knowledge of chemistry was required," the authors wrote, "with most being purchased in hardware stores, grocery stores, over the phone or online."

Mephedrone is a controlled substance considered to have no medical value under the Misuse of Drug Acts. It was widely available in head shops as "bath salts" until it was banned in 2010. Its side-effects include euphoria and an elevated mood.

The paper was written by two scholars in Trinity's School of Medicine. The report concluded, after detailed description of the experimental steps involved, that "using ... easily acquired domestic chemicals it is possible to synthesise the precursors of mephedrone and, ultimately, the drug itself”.

The research was designed to allow Gardaí identify possible "clandestine labs" by outlining the raw materials that might indicate illegal mephedrone production, the authors said.

Copies of the journal were distributed at its launch last Thursday night, and an attempt to withdraw the publication from circulation followed on Friday.

Trinity News reported that the order for the recall came from the Director of Undergraduate Teaching at Trinity's School of Medicine.

The editors of the journal, however, issued a statement to the student reporters claiming "the journal was withdrawn from circulation because the article in question was published without the appropriate permissions and with significant scientific inaccuracies."

The authors of the report noted that making mephedrone in such a way is a dangerous activity, and purifying the domestic products was incredibly difficult.

TV series Breaking Bad, referred to by the essay, followed the life of chemistry teacher Walter White in his criminal activity making methamphetamine, using his academic knowledge.


Story broken by Catherine Healy at Trinity News.

*The Trinity Student Medical Journal is funded by donations from academics and individuals in the university's medical departments and schools.

By Dave Molloy
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