Sciencemadness Discussion Board

interesting Dateline tonight, odd chemical sale situation

DieForelle - 23-6-2018 at 18:57

Deals with a woman who was murdered with colchicine packaged by Spectrum. They showed the bottle and order receipt of the reseller, artchemicals. The reseller salesperson was questioned at the trial! I'm particularly surprised by a couple things:
1) how artchemicals thought colchicine would be used for any remotely 'artistic' use 2) that spectrum wasn't watching cochicine like a hawk - not for safety reasons but other "miscellaneous regulatory" ones. About a decade ago a pharma company was granted the FDA's ridiculous NDA status on it - American crony capitalism at its finest - jacked the price up thousands of percent, and it technically became illegal for even a US compounding to formulate it for medicinal use. So, why in the world would a chiropractor's office want it?

Anyhow, it's a repeat episode and this happened a few years ago. Artchemicals is still selling spectrum products on their website! I guess this little bump in the road didn't affect their long relationship.* It does look like Artchemicals requested business documentation - they actually showed a screenshot of that - so I guess Spectrum felt that gave them enough of a liability shield.

* (Artchemicals was one of the first places listing their products online back in the late 1990s. They were listed in a guide on the topic that was circulating on usenet back then. I wanted a few innocuous food grade chemicals, dipotassium phosphate FCC was one of them. Artchemicals ignored my email. I finally got them via another oddball long gone of course. Still haven't died or whatever Spectrum is afraid is going to happen to laypersons ordering stuff that's already in their food haha)

[Edited on 24-6-2018 by DieForelle]

JJay - 23-6-2018 at 19:52

It is very common for smaller chemical suppliers to order chemicals from larger chemical suppliers on behalf of the public. Colchicine is not really a very suspicious chemical... it's been researched for several purposes, including agriculture (which might be artistic)... while it is toxic, it's an odd choice of poison.... I'm not sure why you see the chemical sale situation as odd.

While I know I am not alone in preferring to work with OTC reagents, I think pretty much anyone who has been in this hobby for more than six months realizes that very few things are truly off limits.

Tsjerk - 23-6-2018 at 23:46

If every reseller that is questioned about a crime committed with their products, would have to stop selling all products from the seller where that products came from, there would be a lot of commerce killed by now.

Besides that, competitors could trow up some dirt, just to get other companies out of their way.

DieForelle - 25-6-2018 at 13:30

Hhhhmmm. Well I've long been a fan of Dateline and 48 Hours and have watched them for decades. (True crime shows generally though I dropped cable a few years ago but hardly watched Court TV when I did have it) Never seen an episode so focused on the sourcing of a poison.

I'd suggest it was in fact a rather strange sale: typically, a doctor's office would order something like that from a more 'normal, mainstream' reseller, like VWR or any of the various Medical supply companies. I have seen a VWR catalog at a vet's office owned by a family friend. Or even direct from Spectrum...per my prior research, they will sell to any legit chemical-needing business at a business address, other than a restaurant. Presumably, most of what artchemicals sells is stuff related to patinas and dyes. I bet they will more careful about selling colchicine in the future! In fact, persuant to my theory about other regulatory factors, it's possible the murderess got lucky by stumbling upon artchemicals (via google, probably). A VWR or Sigma or whomever might have balked at sending it to a chiropractor's office!

"I think pretty much anyone who has been in this hobby for more than six months realizes that very few things are truly off limits."

I think they realize it depends how you define off-limits. Sure, you could order 1 kg of piperonal for your 'home-based flavorings business', but good luck explaining that to the DEA agent who shows up at your house!

[Edited on 25-6-2018 by DieForelle]

JJay - 25-6-2018 at 15:09


I am pretty sure I could get piperonal if I were so inclined... then again, it might be harder than it looks.

MJ101 - 26-6-2018 at 08:23

I remember reading about colchicine. It's a gout medication. But it's also used to cause mutation in marijuana, possibly leading to another strain.

It's mentioned here:

They (dateline) were more than likely bringing it into a bad light because some pot growers might be using it, and it's poisonous.

I also remember watching a docu-drama about Dimethylnitrosamine

Wikipedia has the story.

The TV show was about Steven Roy Harper.

[Edited on 26-6-2018 by MJ101]

OldNubbins - 26-6-2018 at 11:11

It used to be that networks were able to operate their news programming at a loss because their entertainment programs picked up the slack. When the influence of money on news is reduced or eliminated, the news is more objective and trustworthy.

When networks discovered they could make money with their news programming, all bets were off. Welcome to entertainment news, with seasons and episodes! Remember, these guys rigged a truck to explode to sell a story.

It's a good thing there are plenty of elements that react with acids because you will need a lot of salt to consume news from any source in this day and age...