Buying hallucinogens online for recreational use is an "extremely dangerous and emerging drug trend," a longtime Minnesota drug abuse expert said.
A 19-year-old died and 10 other teens and young adults were hospitalized Thursday after apparently overdosing on the drug "2C- E" at a home in Blaine.
Carol Falkowski, drug abuse strategy officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services said officials have been warning about the chemical drug, which has several different names and is sold online.
"All of these chemicals compounds can be ingested by human beings and produce profound hallucinations," Falkowski said.
She said the federal Drug Enforcement Agency cracked down on online retail sale of the drugs and prosecuted some of them in 2004. But new ones have appeared, she said. 2C-I, which is what authorities originally reported was used, is illegal. 2C-E appears to be legal.
"There are always new chemical entrepreneurs who are trying to profit by selling these things," she said. "Adolescents and young adults are the primary abusers of these chemicals, and unfortunately many have the false impression that if it's on the Internet it must be safe, or that if you can buy it, it must not be harmful or addictive as mainstream drugs like heroin or cocaine."
Falkowski said illegal drugs purchased online are extremely dangerous.
"You really do not know what you're getting, and in the cases of these substances, you aren't even certain if it's the substance the website may say it is, and if it is that substance, you have no idea about the purity or potency of it," she said. "There's no predicting what the effects could be."
The drugs are sometimes called "designer drugs" or advertised as research drugs. They first appeared in Minnesota in the '90s and were popular at "rave" parties, she said.
(MPR reporter Sasha Aslanian contributed to this report.)