Who makes legal cocaine

Drug lexicon

Legal highs

Term and origin

The term legal high is not a technical term. Rather, it is a scene name that was probably coined by the dealers of these substances for reasons of better marketing. Legal highs are mostly sold as "smoking mixtures", "bath salts" or "cleaners" in order to disguise the actual purpose of the products - consumption - and to circumvent the legal provisions of the Narcotics Act or the Medicines Act.

Forms and Effects

Legal highs are usually similar in their effects to known substances such as cannabis, ecstasy or amphetamine. A precise description of the effect of legal highs is not possible due to the large number of different substances. In addition, through targeted manipulation of the chemical structure, new substances are continuously brought onto the market.

Legal highs are offered as powders, tablets, herbs, or capsules. Herbal or incense mixtures usually contain dried plant parts. The best-known representative is "Spice", which caused a sensation in 2008. The colorful sachets contained over-the-counter dried herbs that were reported to have produced cannabis-like effects at the time. In the course of laboratory analyzes, however, it was found that the herbs were only carrier substances to which new synthetic cannabinoids were added. As a result, the new synthetic active ingredients were included in the Narcotics Act.

Legal highs with a stimulating effect are usually referred to as "Bath salts“, „Room air freshener"Or"cleanser“Sold. These products often contain synthetic cathinones. These are artificially produced substances that are related to the active ingredient cathine, which occurs naturally in the khat plant. A well-known synthetic cathinone is mephedrone.

In addition, so-called "Research Chemicals“Marketed. According to the retailers, these products contain synthetic substances in their pure form. However, it cannot be assessed whether the substances are really "pure" or which substances are actually contained.


A final assessment of the risks and long-term effects of consumption is not possible because there are currently no systematic studies on this, especially since new synthetic substances keep coming onto the market.

Consumers often report adverse effects such as palpitations, circulatory problems, headaches, nausea, anxiety, stomach pains, muscle cramps and unconsciousness. Heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, seizures and psychoses have also been reported in individual case studies.

There are also reports from in the scientific literature Deathsattributed to taking legal highs. For example, a 25-year-old was found dead in his apartment, and the autopsy did not reveal any tangible cause of death. A toxicological analysis found a high concentration of JWH-122 and JWH-210, both synthetic cannabinoids. It is believed that the man died of respiratory arrest caused by excessive abuse of synthetic cannabinoids. In other cases, fatal accidents have occurred after taking legal highs, preceded by a panic attack.

It is possible that the potential risk of consumers is underestimated, as the term legal high gives the impression that the products are harmless. In addition, the active ingredients contained are usually not or only incompletely stated on the packaging. So no statement can be made about the amount or the composition of the active ingredients used.


Contrary to what the term legal highs suggests, these substances are not legal to use. Creative chemists are constantly developing new active ingredients that are not expressly mentioned in the Narcotics Act. On November 26, 2016, however, a law came into force that no longer includes individual substances but entire groups of substances. The New Psychoactive Substances Act (NpSG) mainly includes synthetic cannabinoids, phenethylamines and cathinones.

In the future, other groups of substances can also be included if required. The ban covers the trading, placing on the market, manufacture, import, export and transit, acquisition, possession and administration of new psychoactive substances.


  • Auwärter, V. (2011). Lecture at the 2011 annual meeting of drug commissioners
  • Coppola, M. & Mondola, R. (2011). Synthetic cathinones: Chemistry, pharmacology and toxicology of a new class of designer drugs of abuse marketed as “bath salts” or “plant food”. Toxicology Letters, 211, 144-149.
  • EMCDDA-Europol (2011). Annual report on the implementation of the Council.
  • ECJ press release (July 10, 2014)
  • Gunderson, E. W., Haughey, H. M., Ait-Daoud, N., Joshi, A. S. & Hart, C.L. (2012). "Spice" and "K2" herbal highs: a case series and systematic review of the clinical effects and biopsychosocial implications of synthetic cannabinoid use in humans. The American Journal on Addictions, 21 (4), 320-326.
  • Hermanns-Clausen, M., Kneisel, S., Szabo, B. & Auwärter, V. (2012). Acute toxicity due to the confirmed consumption of synthetic cannabinoids: Clinical and laboratory findings. Addiction, 108 (3), 534-544.
  • Jerry, J., Collins, G. & Streem, D. (2012). Synthetic legal intoxicating drugs: the emerging 'incense' and 'bath salt' phenomenon. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2012 Apr; 79 (4): 258-64.
  • Lapoint, J., James, L. P., Moran, C. L., Nelson, L. S., Hoffman, R. S. & Moran, J. H. (2011). Severe toxicity following synthetic cannabinoid ingestion. Clinical Toxicology, 49 (8), 760-764.
  • Mir, A., Obafemi, A., Young, A. & Kane, C. (2011). Myocardial Infarction Associated With Use of the Synthetic Cannabinoid K2. Pediatrics, 128 (6), doi: 10.1542 / peds.2010-3823.
  • New Psychoactive Substances Act
  • Higher Regional Court Nuremberg, judgment of December 10, 2012 (Az. 1 St OLG Ss 246/12).
  • Patzak, J. (December 27, 2012) “Finally, an end to the term 'legal highs'. Higher Regional Court Nuremberg affirms the application of the Medicines Act. Beck blog.
  • Press release Federal Government (26.11.2016)
  • Prosser, J. M. & Nelson, L. S. (2011). The Toxicology of Bath Salts: A Review of Synthetic Cathinones. J Med Toxicol, 8 (1), 33-42.
  • Rössner, D. & Voit, W. (2011). Everything illegal? On the legal handling of new synthetic substances. Presentation at the annual meeting of drug commissioners on October 11, 2011 in Berlin.
  • Werse, B., Morgenstern, C. (2011). Final report: Online survey on “Legal Highs”, Goethe University, Center for Drug Research, Frankfurt am Main.


Information as of June 2017


All entries in the drug lexicon for the letter "L"