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Sivvy
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[*] posted on 9-11-2017 at 18:48
Lists of Illegal Substances


After having to deal with the police fairly recently, because a fussy, easily alarmed person saw my glassware, I have become interested in gathering as much legal information I can regarding chemistry in the United States. Therefore, I wondered if you folks here could help me acquire an official list of chemicals, glassware, and reactions that are (in the United States) against the law or require a permit to perform and (in case of glassware) own. I wish to have this information, because I have no desire to do or produce anything illegal, but because of the Byzantine legal structure of the modern world, I don't have exhaustive knowledge of everything that our alarmist world has decided to throw people in jail for.
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[*] posted on 9-11-2017 at 19:33


There are no illegal reactions per se, but some illegal end products.

"Scheduled" substances often require a permit to legally have; simple possession can be a serious felony.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act

"Listed" chemicals aren't illegal to have, but are watched/regulated in some ways (so they can be hard to get and in some cases buying or trying to buy one might result in an investigation.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEA_list_of_chemicals

So, if you want a kilo of red phosphorus, it might draw attention to buy it. But it's not actually illegal to do so. It's probably illegal to produce many Listed chemicals without a permit (for instance, whipping up a batch of methylamine.) But...I've never heard of somebody getting into legal trouble for it on the hobby scale unless they were also up to something more serious (drug manufacture usually.)

It's my understanding that making explosives without a permit is broadly illegal. Don't tell that to YouTube though. Strict legality aside, you're probably safe so long as the amounts you make/have clearly fall into the 'harmless tinkerer' category rather than 'terrorist.' You've really pissed somebody off if they care about your gram of nitrogen tri-iodide.


Some equipment (such as, oddly, 22 liter heating mantles) is "Listed" (that is to say, watched), but on a federal level I'm not aware of any lab equipment actually being illegal. Texas is famous for having some crazy restrictions on glassware, requiring permits for some pretty common/basic things.



[Edited on 10-11-2017 by Reboot]
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[*] posted on 9-11-2017 at 20:03


This is something I have extensive experience with, both personally, and vicariously via an irresponsible friend.

The main thing to be concerned with is that all your chemicals are properly labeled as to their contents. Unlabeled chemicals are a huge red flag to police, for some reason. Even a wrong label is better than no label, so if you're not quite sure what a reaction produced and plan to work it up later, just write SOMETHING on the label.

Getting questioned by the ATF isn't nearly as unpleasant as getting questioned by the DEA. The DEA can be HUGE assholes. The ATF, on the other hand, are usually pretty polite and considerate. At the lower levels, the DEA has the types of cops who will throw a single mom in jail for selling her pain meds because she's desperate for money, and I suspect it's a draw for the high-school-bully types. The ATF, on the other hand, has to regularly deal with people that seem like what they're doing should be illegal, but are totally within their legal rights in this country. Namely, gun nuts. So they're less quick to jump to conclusions than the DEA, who automatically assumes that anyone with chemistry equipment is making crystal meth.

Speaking of which, if God forbid, you do develop an interest in recreational drug synthesis, just pick anything that isn't methamphetamine. Trust me on this one. That's all the DEA knows how to look for in a chemistry lab, and all they seem to care about. Both my friend and I experienced having the DEA tear apart our stuff, in a futile attempt to find our "meth ingredients". Those assholes dumped a bottle of palladium in aqua regia out, and never even apologized. It was unlabeled though, hence my earlier warning.

Unlabeled bottles can get you a charge of "improper storage of a hazardous material" if someone feels like being a dick to you. Generally, you can practically eliminate the chances of getting charged with that if you just keep your lab neat and label everything. That's a charge that's often incurred when the police want to give themselves a consolation prize, if they weren't able to find any "meth ingredients". The way they determine if a lab is a meth lab is apparently by how messy it is.

There are two non-drug chemicals that are illegal to synthesize: acetone peroxide, and HMTD, Other explosives are legal to synthesize, since laws against bomb-making typically refer to "explosive devices", but you could be charged with improper storage if they feel like being dicks to you.




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[*] posted on 9-11-2017 at 20:10


There are also questions of intent. You probably won't be arrested if the police discover that you possess amorphous boron, sodium bromide, vanillin, iron filings, stump remover, and sugar, but it is a completely different story if they happen upon records that you bought MDP2NP and methylamine and get a call from a neighbor who is upset about the loud noises, smells, and mysterious fires.

Oh and I *completely* disagree with Melgar's views on the subject of the ATF vs. the DEA, but we don't really need to discuss that on this thread.

[Edited on 10-11-2017 by JJay]




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[*] posted on 9-11-2017 at 20:53


Yes, intent is actually crucial for police to prove any of the more serious crimes. They actually try quite hard to get this right, so if you're genuinely entirely above-board, the worst that could happen is probably an improper storage charge, because that doesn't require intent.

Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
There are also questions of intent. You probably won't be arrested if the police discover that you possess amorphous boron, sodium bromide, vanillin, iron filings, stump remover, and sugar, but it is a completely different story if they happen upon records that you bought MDP2NP and methylamine and get a call from a neighbor who is upset about the loud noises, smells, and mysterious fires.

I was trying to see if those things in the first list could be used to get MDP2P, but only got as far as vanillin demethylation. If you had "meat preservatives" (nitrite), "drain opener" (sulfuric acid), and "paint stripper" (methylene chloride), it'd be doable, in theory.

Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
Oh and I *completely* disagree with Melgar's views on the subject of the ATF vs. the DEA, but we don't really need to discuss that on this thread.

I admit I'm probably wrong, since this characterization was based on a sample size of two. I'm also very biased, since having my shit torn apart and several hundred dollars of palladium poured down the drain left me a bit disgruntled.

[Edited on 11/10/17 by Melgar]




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[*] posted on 10-11-2017 at 02:40


Quote: Originally posted by Melgar  
Yes, intent is actually crucial for police to prove any of the more serious crimes. They actually try quite hard to get this right, so if you're genuinely entirely above-board, the worst that could happen is probably an improper storage charge, because that doesn't require intent.

Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
There are also questions of intent. You probably won't be arrested if the police discover that you possess amorphous boron, sodium bromide, vanillin, iron filings, stump remover, and sugar, but it is a completely different story if they happen upon records that you bought MDP2NP and methylamine and get a call from a neighbor who is upset about the loud noises, smells, and mysterious fires.

I was trying to see if those things in the first list could be used to get MDP2P, but only got as far as vanillin demethylation. If you had "meat preservatives" (nitrite), "drain opener" (sulfuric acid), and "paint stripper" (methylene chloride), it'd be doable, in theory.

Quote: Originally posted by JJay  
Oh and I *completely* disagree with Melgar's views on the subject of the ATF vs. the DEA, but we don't really need to discuss that on this thread.

I admit I'm probably wrong, since this characterization was based on a sample size of two. I'm also very biased, since having my shit torn apart and several hundred dollars of palladium poured down the drain left me a bit disgruntled.

[Edited on 11/10/17 by Melgar]


I don't know much about the law in the US, but if they destroy valuable stuff of yours, aren't they mayve obligated to give you a refund for that?
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[*] posted on 10-11-2017 at 02:40


This is very good food for thought, and I appreciate the input. Here's what I have gotten so far, in summary:

1) Keep an immaculate lab, with everything neatly labeled and logged, and perhaps written documentation of your legal end goals.
2) List I and II substances are legal to own, though they can trigger an investigation (particularly in large quantities), so only produce them as needed or in as small a quantity as needed.
3) Essentially avoid making any scheduled substances.

I want to understand the legal aspects as best as I am able because, as I stated before, I have not even the remotest desire to produce anything that is against the law. If it is against the law, it is, in my mind, out of the question to make. My interest in chemistry is completely out of fascination with its principles and the science. That's what drives all of my motivation in it, and why I love it so much. I've never used drugs in my life and don't have any temptation to, and it really aggravates me that my....

...COPPER ACETATE CRYSTALS...

...caused the sheriff to come to my house. This is completely absurd to me. Even after giving samples and having the tests come back negative for (you guessed it) meth, they still felt it necessary to do a followup interview and ask me more questions about everything. I never realized before this event how ignorant the police are of chemistry, even though one might think that because their work involves so much drugs, they would know some rudimentary things.

I think, though, that what you guys have said so far has given me a good feel for how to manage the situation if it ever arises again, so that the police know that I am not doing anything illegal.
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[*] posted on 10-11-2017 at 03:41


Quote: Originally posted by theAngryLittleBunny  
I don't know much about the law in the US, but if they destroy valuable stuff of yours, aren't they mayve obligated to give you a refund for that?

In theory, yes. But that requires hiring a lawyer, which would cost more than the value of what was destroyed
Quote: Originally posted by Sivvy  
This is very good food for thought, and I appreciate the input. Here's what I have gotten so far, in summary:

1) Keep an immaculate lab, with everything neatly labeled and logged, and perhaps written documentation of your legal end goals.
2) List I and II substances are legal to own, though they can trigger an investigation (particularly in large quantities), so only produce them as needed or in as small a quantity as needed.
3) Essentially avoid making any scheduled substances.

Really, you'll be just fine no matter what you have, as long as your intent is fine, and you keep your lab moderately organized. It's not actually illegal to own List I and II chemicals, the law just puts documentation requirements on sellers, to the point where it isn't worth it for most of them. Even though iodine is on List I, anyone can just go onto eBay and buy as much elemental iodine as they want, since the sellers are all in China and eastern Europe and not subject to US law.

Remember, they have to prove intent if you don't possess any actual illegal drugs, so unless they find a meth pipe and a garbage can full of empty sudafed packaging, the only way they could charge you with intent is if you confessed, which you obviously wouldn't do. Everyone's lab will get a bit messy from time to time, but as long as you clean up spills rather than let them accumulate, and have a fume hood and safety equipment visible, you'll make the right first impression.

Oh, I actually did have one positive experience with the DEA. See, the local police apparently will call in the DEA when they don't know what to make of a situation. The DEA chemist asked me a bunch of questions about what different things were, and then one of the non-chemists asked him "so what is it?" And his answer was "a whole bunch of exotic shit." And he was like, the chemistry expert for that region, for the DEA.

[Edited on 11/10/17 by Melgar]




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[*] posted on 10-11-2017 at 03:50


The question of what is legal or illegal in the USA includes some aspects of your location-

As noted, Texas defines the legality of certain glassware by how many openings it has.

Other states, COUNTIES and even CITIES have their own laws, quite apart and in addition to the federal level laws and administrative "determinations" (These determinations are another whole ball of wax- A federal agency such as BATF can essentially write their own federal law, no legislature or vote required).

As far as staying legal, intent does matter to some (many!) enforcement groups at a policy level, and to their individual members personally in relation to their personal ethics and perception of what is common sense.

To some others, if you have pissed them off personally? or the investigator has had a bad morning, or a district attorney wants a high PR value legal dog and pony show to kick off his career advancement? Letter of the law as they choose to interpret it on the fly, and to hell with your claimed intent.

You could pay a great deal in legal fees to stay out of jail under these circumstances, while the prosecution essentially has all the free legal services they want (tax payer funded, not owed personally by the individual(s) who decided to arrest/charge/indict you).

As noted, any suggestion of a meth lab will bring a maximum response. The commonly used explosive organic peroxides and illegal machine guns are the BATF equivalent of meth, and any suggestion of drug production AND weapons (illegal or not!) on site will be met with those levels of response at least squared.

So, do as was advised above, and hope for the best. If you live in TX, get licensed- or just move?

As far as the non US member question about law enforcement being required to pay for whatever damages they inflict, in the case that you were not breaking any laws?

Essentially, no. Unless you can afford REALLY good legal representation, and/or have a high enough profile abuse under color of the law done to you (AND sufficiently publicised in the press) that elected officials worry about their career? Never. Not for your broken door. Not for your lost materials. Not for cash and valuables taken by police as claimed drug related profits, with no proof required. Hell, not for killing your dog, or even human family members during their entry.

You can thank the "drug war" for a great deal of that.




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[*] posted on 10-11-2017 at 18:07


As stated above, laws differ among states, counties and even cities.
Proper storage is a must. Label everything.

In Louisiana it is illegal to have two out of three, pseudoephedrine, iodine, or
phosphorous. And Iodine includes providone-iodine as well as tinctures so if
you have a reasonably stocked medicine kit and some sinus medicine you
can get charged with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.

The extent of most meth labs is a bottle and a balloon with some filters
and the like. If it actually looks like a chemistry lab it probably isn't a meth
lab. The DEA will likely investigate more thoroughly and they know about
other drugs than meth, but they don't run into the labs much. They will also
call in the ATF if there is evidence of explosives.

My experience is that local cops are completely clueless and only know meth.
They will charge you with improper storage of chemicals, even if it is
something completely unrelated to chemistry like a bottle of fingernail polish
remover.
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[*] posted on 11-11-2017 at 00:24


Intent *isn't* what's in your head.

Intent is finding drain cleaner and Iodine tincture in the same residence while the DEA agent is having a bad day. *You'll* be called a meth cook, and *you'll* have to prove your innocence. It's like the label of "child molester". It doesn't matter if you're innocent - you're finished. You've been tarred with that label and you'll carry it for life. You might lose your house, your job, your cars and your children.

If you think most of the DEA is composed of reasonable people, you're naive, and have never felt the full force of the US criminal justice system.

Your average DEA agent is a person that went *immediately* from high-school directly into the Army infantry or Marine corps. They left as some type of senior NCO, probably a Sargent Major. These are people that never lived in the professional word, and don't know how to deal or speak with people other than with barking orders, force and violence. They're suspicious of science and would rather read the Bible than a chemistry book. Their world is based on judgement of other people. They know no other way.

Keep it small, keep it secret and keep it smart.

[Edited on 11-11-2017 by Mr. Rogers]
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[*] posted on 11-11-2017 at 00:47


Oh, and get your POS car fixed.

90% of these investigations are initiated during traffic stops for equipment failures (and tweaker-looking occupants) and not from ordering Gallium from China off Ebay.

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[*] posted on 11-11-2017 at 16:31


Intent is entirely at the discretion of the investigating officer too.

I was charged with a terrorism offense a couple years back when police discovered my lab after a(unrelated) housefire caused by another resident. The lab was entirely legitimate and had been organised/designed based closely on my TAFE lab re: storage of chemicals and haz materials.

The basis of the charge was due to my KNO3 being stored on the shelf directly below the fine aluminium powder(in a cupboard which also contained at least 20 other unrelated and innocuous chemicals.)

6 months of court appearances later it was dismissed. I got the impression the detectives did it out of boredom.
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[*] posted on 11-11-2017 at 19:02


Quote:
Even though iodine is on List I, anyone can just go onto eBay and buy as much elemental iodine as they want, since the sellers are all in China and eastern Europe and not subject to US law.


There may be two areas of concern here. First, customs paperwork will identify the item(s) being shipped (if the seller is meeting their obligations.) So, when that package of iodine crosses the border, it may be noted as as a suspicious shipment, leading to an investigation.

The second chance for trouble is that it's generally illegal to import Listed precursors without a permit. Having had that package of iodine shipped from overseas counts as importing it; you are likely breaking the law.

Now, would anybody really care about small amounts? I suspect not. But the law is likely on their side if they do decide to come after you for it.
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[*] posted on 12-11-2017 at 08:44


Out of curiosity, how similar is the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 to REACH? Does it specify, for example, if some really toxic reagents (like cyanides) can only be acquired/owned with proper paperwork?



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[*] posted on 12-11-2017 at 10:30


When I said that intent is important, I meant that the officer knows that if he charges you with intent to do something, then he has to prove that there was intent first to (I assume) the DA, then to a judge or a jury. A cop will usually get pretty good at making these judgment calls, but if he's been to eight house fires where the house contained chemistry stuff, and all of those eight times, someone was trying to make meth and started a fire, he'll end up being biased, and assume he can prove intent even though it ends up not being what he thought it was. Cops also tend to feel the need to assign blame for anything bad that happens, although that's probably American culture in general and not just cops. But if something bad happens, it's the job of the police to find the responsible party and charge them with a crime. Sometimes if they keep coming up blank, (often because it was just one of those "shit happens" incidents) they'll keep looking harder and harder until they see a pattern that isn't really there. I doubt police deliberately arrest people for crimes that that they don't believe they did, but I do think that the nature of their job tends to make them treat people as criminals by default, if they're doing something that doesn't fall into the range of what the cop considers "normal behavior".
Quote: Originally posted by Reboot  
There may be two areas of concern here. First, customs paperwork will identify the item(s) being shipped (if the seller is meeting their obligations.) So, when that package of iodine crosses the border, it may be noted as as a suspicious shipment, leading to an investigation.

It'll be labeled as something slightly inaccurate, such that the seller could blame a language barrier for the reason. Elemental iodine might be labeled as "iodide crystals" or tubes of gallium might be labeled as "metal bars".

Quote:
The second chance for trouble is that it's generally illegal to import Listed precursors without a permit. Having had that package of iodine shipped from overseas counts as importing it; you are likely breaking the law.

Iodine may be an exception, in that there is no legislation making it a List I chemical. The DEA just did it unilaterally, but because Congress needs to allocate money to programs, there may actually be no money in the budget to enforcing the iodine ban. Hence the reason it's circumvented as easily as it is, and many people don't even know that there's a ban at all. That's only a guess, granted, but surely there's a reason that iodine is trivially easy to import compared with the other List I precursors.

Quote:
Now, would anybody really care about small amounts? I suspect not. But the law is likely on their side if they do decide to come after you for it.

That's a problem with the US legal system that seems to be getting worse over time, and I don't foresee it reversing direction any time soon. Basically, Congress (and since February, the presidency) has become dysfunctional to the point where all the actual power and responsibility is in the hands of the three-letter agencies in the executive branch. People blame Obama for things like "Fast and Furious", but that was a program that started before he even entered office. Eric Holder had to be briefed on the program when the scandal came out, because he didn't know anything about it. In the case of the DEA, Obama didn't even choose a new administrator for the agency, and his ONLY directive to them was to allow states that had chosen to legalize marijuana, to be allowed to do so without interference from the feds. And even that one directive met with a lot of resistance.

I'm worried that in the future, the law will be so vague that the police will be able to enforce it selectively to do whatever they want. This is already the case, sort of, but I'm sure it can get much, much worse.

[Edited on 11/12/17 by Melgar]




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[*] posted on 12-11-2017 at 11:18


Intent matters especially in attempt cases where no drugs are found. If someone is like, "OMG how did I accidentally make this MDMA?" and "I just bought the pill press on a whim. Seemed like it would be a cool thing to have," his/her intent is irrelevant or if it is an issue then he/she will be crucified when the verdict is issued. Intent matters when you've purchased a gallon of brown camphor oil. For all anyone knows, maybe you're just rubbing it on your bunions or something. But purchased along with a distillation set, sodium hydroxide, benzoquinone, mercuric chloride etc., it's going to look awfully suspicious.



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[*] posted on 12-11-2017 at 12:41


Oh and here is the section of the Controlled Substances Act that covers intent with possession of a List I or List II substance:


Quote:

(c) Offenses involving listed chemicals

Any person who knowingly or intentionally—

(1) possesses a listed chemical with intent to manufacture a controlled substance except as authorized by this subchapter;

(2) possesses or distributes a listed chemical knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the listed chemical will be used to manufacture a controlled substance except as authorized by this subchapter; or

(3) with the intent of causing the evasion of the recordkeeping or reporting requirements of section 830 of this title, or the regulations issued under that section, receives or distributes a reportable amount of any listed chemical in units small enough so that the making of records or filing of reports under that section is not required;

shall be fined in accordance with title 18 or imprisoned not more than 20 years in the case of a violation of paragraph (1) or (2) involving a list I chemical or not more than 10 years






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[*] posted on 25-1-2018 at 03:23


Here in California in 2005,While at my "real"job,my wife getting dressed for an appointment had a swat team show up because some informant in attempts to get let off for something claimed I was running a meth lab and took my wifes Clorox bleach and dumped about two grams of Mercuric chloride out on my work bench wrote on the inventory "white crystalline powder with no odor"!!Really????then left it!!!Now that is training!!
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[*] posted on 29-1-2018 at 07:27


I have to disagree with Reboot and Sivvy on their comments "List I and II substances are legal to own. Look at what's on list I. No way that any of it is legal to own. I'm not sure about list II. It's all really confusing. Here is a website I found but I'm not sure what to make of it. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL30722.pdf If someone can translate this into simple English that those of us in the states can understand, I'm sure it can go a long way in helping many on this site.
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[*] posted on 30-1-2018 at 15:56


You seem to be confusing Listed and Scheduled. Scheduled substances are the traditional illegal drugs, and yes, are very much illegal to have without some authorization (like a prescription.) Amphetamine is Scheduled.

Listed precursors, on the other hand, are chemicals that are watched/regulated because they might be used to make drugs (or something else dangerous.) Benzaldehyde (which can be used to make amphetamine) is Listed. But you can still buy it at the grocery store (almond extract.)
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