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The curse… and precusors

7 April 2023

While no one doubts the seriousness of the “fentinyl crisis! in the United States, thw typical reaction has been… like that common to all addicts in dcnial.. to “blame others”. The “others de jour” being the old favorite, Mexico.. and China. Offically, both states reject US claims of flooding the United States with their new drug of choice, suggesting (not so subtly) that the US needs to figure out the reasons people feel the need to use the product in the first place. Probably too much to ask.

Instead, the US is going for prohibition of what is, or intended as, a useful surgical anesthetic and post-operative pain reliever. And, here, the Mexicans and Chinese are… while not in any sense lying… are in a bit of denial themselves. And letting the Canadians off the hook (though I’ve yet to hear of any US politicians suggesting drone attacks on Canada) So called “precursor” chemicals are shipped to Mexico and Canada, along with the United States. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to whip up a batch of the stuff. And even if one did cut off, and control, exports of 4-anilino-N-phenethyl-4-piperidine (ANPP) and N-phenethyl-4-piperidone (NPP), substitues are readily available. If one recalls Breaking Bad, the sad-sack Jesse Pinkman was already an estabilished member of the DEA … “Drug Enhancement Agency” … ong before Walter White came along to refine the process.

“The most common synthesis route for fentanyl uses two key precursor chemicals: 4-anilino-N-phenethyl-4-piperidine (ANPP) and N-phenethyl-4-piperidone (NPP). ANPP is a Schedule II controlled substance, and NPP is a List I precursor chemical. As common precursor chemicals come under tighter international scrutiny, illicit actors are exploring alternative methods of making fentanyl and buying chemicals to make their own precursors. These chemicals include propionic anhydride—a List I precursor chemical—piperidone, propionyl chloride, and aniline.”

U.S. Department of State, “21st Century Drug Trafficking: “Manufacturing Advisory” on Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids (Tab A)” (2019)

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