Then, of course, there are the freak-outs. It’s been impossible to miss these stories in the news, which loves a zombified drug-apocalypse story as much as it did during Reefer Madness in the twenties and doesn’t care much if mental illness enters the picture. On the N-bomb, an actor on FX’s Sons of Anarchy murdered his landlady in the Hollywood Hills, dismembered her cat, then killed himself. Bath salts have been blamed, among a zillion such stories, for making a Pennsylvania couple “slash their 5-year-old daughter repeatedly as they attacked the ‘voices in the walls’ ”; a guy in Maine get off his motorcycle and try to hit cars with a piece of wood; a woman try to cut out her teeth with a knife; and a man at a Tampa nightclub named Rat Soap fall into a bath-salts-induced seizure—clubbers tried to save him by putting a Valium in his mouth and wrapping him in plastic, but he died.
And who can forget the cannibal in Miami? That’s the Haitian guy who abandoned a purple Chevy (Koran in the back seat) and ripped his clothes off on the causeway, attacking a 65-year-old homeless man for eighteen minutes. Cops had to shoot him six times to get him to stop, at which point only 20 percent of the victim’s face remained intact, mostly a goatee. The media storm over this attack got so intense that Chuck Schumer, the government’s loudest advocate for making these drugs illegal, was able to push a new federal synthetics act past the opposition of Rand Paul and others. In the summer of 2012, Obama signed it into law, making most of the 2C class, as well as a few bath salts and Huffman’s drugs, illegal, with manufacture and sale punishable by up to twenty years in prison.
That the day after the synthetic-drug-control bill was passed the coroner finally released a toxicology report showing the cannibal was high only on THC, the natural kind, is neither here nor there. The more important fact is that it took only a few months for vendors to start selling a new set of drugs: The cannabinoids went from AM-2201 (illegal) to UR-144 (legal), and there was suddenly a new bath salt called a-PVP, which users on the forums declared good, although it “smelled very much like sperm” when insufflated. The trip is far from over.
The wizard seemed as hale and sharp as a 32-year-old ingester of hundreds of unknown drugs can be expected to be. Which didn’t mean that he was unscarred by his experiences. In his life, he felt that fate had always been on his side, but weird things started to happen. In fact, his local post office told him that his packages were being watched. Then an ex-girlfriend stole a bunch of synthetics and $40,000 from him; a few days later, she was stopped speeding in a construction zone and consented to a search of her car. The cops seized 2C-I, 2C-E, LSD, oxycodone, ketamine, MDMA, and a rare GHB “pro-drug” (whose chemical composition, different from GHB, is converted to it by the body’s enzymes when ingested) that the law-enforcement lab had never seen before. “There’s pictures of my pink-elephant blotter 2C-I on the DEA’s website because of that!” says the Wizard. As his business expanded, he began working with a lower-level dealer, a guy he knew from high school, who was “all about making money, and misrepresenting things, like a lot of people are,” he says. “He’d call 2C-I ‘synthetic mescaline,’ which it is technically a derivative of, but it’s not, at all.”
A couple of months later, the lower dealer was caught capping off a pistol at a lake. The cops took him in, and he said he had something to tell them if they’d let him off on the charge—he could turn them on to a major source of acid. When the dealer came back to talk to the Wizard, he told him that he’d met some guys who were “big fans” of his work, and the Wizard’s ego, the thing he was supposed to be destroying with all this, got puffed up. He gave the informant 2C-I, 2C-B, and Bromo-DragonFLY, but the agents kept asking for “real acid”—they didn’t want to deal with prosecuting someone in an analog case, which can be hard to win because juries are easily confused by chemistry.
The Wizard said he’d see what he could do. A week later, he put twenty vials in a Starbucks bag, a taste before they said they’d purchase two raw grams, and went to meet his friend at the mall. “Suddenly, there were five SUVs all around me, and guys in plainclothes with guns—honestly I thought we were getting robbed,” says the Wizard. “I might have been a little high.” When he said he wanted a lawyer, “the cops said, ‘Shut up, this isn’t a movie.’ I said, ‘Oh, they don’t have civil rights in movies?’ I got in the cop car, and just to be a dick, I said, ‘How much do I need to pay to get out today?’ ‘You’re not getting out today,’ the cop said. ‘We’re the DEA.’ That’s when I shut the hell up.”