The expanding universe of synthetic drugs

From “legal highs” to fentanyl, there are more drugs on offer than ever before
The Economist (UK)
Saturday, May 20, 2017

The 20th century saw new drugs created from scratch: amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and more. It also saw a far more spirited, if often fruitless, policing of the line between drugs-as-medicine and drugs-of-choice — a line that was in many cases drawn according to the sort of people who chose to use the drug, rather than any essential danger it posed. These prohibitions rarely improved public health or public order; but they did encourage some of those who served the markets on the wrong side of the line to investigate the potential of molecules similar to those in existing drugs but not yet subject to any sanction.