Fentanyl | Glutethimide & Methaqualone | Hashish | Hashish Oil
First synthesized in Belgium in the late 1950s, fentanyl, with an analgesic potency of about 80 times that of morphine, was introduced into medical practice in the
1960s as an intravenous anesthetic under the trade name of Sublimaze®. Thereafter; two other fentanyl analogues were introduced; alfentanil (Alfenta®), an
ultra-short (5-10 minutes) acting analgesic, and sufentanil (Sufenta®), an exceptionally potent analgesic (5 to 10 times more potent than fentanyl) for use in
heart surgery. Today, fentanyls are extensively used for anesthesia and analgesia. Duragesic®, for example, is a fentanyl transdermal patch used in chronic pain
management, and Actiq® is a solid formulation of fentanyl citrate on a stick that dissolves slowly in the mouth for transmucosal absorption. Actiq® is
intended for opiate-tolerant individuals and is effective in treating breakthrough pain in cancer patients. Carfentanil (Wildnil®) is an analogue of fentanyl
with an analgesic potency 10,000 times that of morphine and is used in veterinary practice to immobilize certain large animals.
Illicit use of pharmaceutical fentanyls first appeared in the mid-1970s in the medical community and continues to be a problem in the United States. To date,
over 12 different analogues of fentanyl have been produced clandestinely and identified in the U.S. drug traffic. The biological effects of the fentanyls are
indistinguishable from those of heroin, with the exception that the fentanyls may be hundreds of times more potent. Fentanyls are most commonly used by intravenous
administration, but like heroin, they may also be smoked or snorted.
Glutethimide & Methaqualone
Glutethimide (Doriden®) was introduced in 1954 and methaqualone (“Quaalude” Sopor®) in 1965 as safe barbiturate substitutes. Experience
demonstrated, however; that their addiction liability and the severity of withdrawal symptoms were similar to those of barbiturates. By 1972, “luding out,”
taking methaqualone with wine, was a popular college pastime. Excessive use leads to tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms similar to those of barbiturates.
In the United States, the marketing of methaqualone pharmaceutical products stopped in 1984, and methaqualone was transferred to Schedule I of the CSA. In 1991,
glutethimide was transferred into Schedule II in response to an upsurge in the prevalence of diversion, abuse, and overdose deaths. Today, there is little medical use
of glutethimide in the United States.
Hashish consists of the THC-rich resinous material of the cannabis plant, which is collected, dried, and then compressed into a variety of forms, such as balls, cakes,
or cookie-like sheets. Pieces are then broken off, placed in pipes, and smoked. The Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are the main sources of hashish.
The THC content of hashish that reached the United States, where demand is limited, averaged about 5 percent in the 1990s.
The term hash oil is used by illicit drug users and dealers, but is a misnomer in suggesting any resemblance to hashish. Hash oil is produced by extracting the
cannabinoids from plant material with a solvent. The color and odor of the resulting extract will vary, depending on the type of solvent used. Current samples of
hash oil, a viscous liquid ranging from amber to dark brown in color, average about 15 percent THC. In terms of its psychoactive effect, a drop or two of this liquid
on a cigarette is equal to a single “joint” of marijuana.