One thing about us humans, we’re gonna do drugs.
When you think about drugs, what picture comes to mind? Is it a pill bottle being handed to you by a pharmacist? Or how about the picture of a homeless man whose eyes are glued to the ground as he busily looks for coins to secure his next drug score? What about dark alleys or dark rooms with needles injecting unknown things into the arms of people seemingly wasting their lives away? When you think about drugs, which one comes to mind? For a good majority, when they think of drugs they think of marijuana and for others, cocaine lines come to mind. Then there are those whose preference includes needles, hallucinogenic teas, sedatives and pills. The thing about drugs, however, although life-saving, it has the dark ability to affect how the body and mind both function. Illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine each possess the capacity to change a person’s mental and physical state with a direct effect on the way said person feels and behaves, the way they think, how their brain works and their level of understanding. Even though drugs have been around for a long time, over the years as information and technology improve, new ones pop up. Despite the fact that it isn’t new, a drug that has gotten many a head nod from the club and party scene is Tuci also known as Tusi or Pink Cocaine. Not to be confused with the widely-known, ‘regular’ cocaine, the term “Pink Cocaine” is misnamed because it does not share any chemical resemblance to cocaine, which is plant-derived hydrochloride.
Tuci is considered a popular designer drug which is a term used for illegal drugs that are synthetically created in a lab (man-made) as opposed to naturally occurring. Their purpose is to mimic the effects of existing, original drugs, all the while avoiding classification as illegal and/or detection in standard drug tests. Some designer drugs can even be made with very little knowledge of chemistry. The highest demand for the Medellin, Colombia native drug, Tusi, comes from the club and party scene: patrons of nightclubs, raves, music festivals. It is not hard to see why supporters of ecstasy, MDMA, LSD and cocaine wouldn’t be interested in the euphoric and psychedelic effects produced by Tuci. It also amplifies auditory and visual senses as well as provokes sexual arousal. Tuci is said to consist of combinations of ketamine, MDMA, LSD and methamphetamines, sometimes mixed with pink food colouring. Sometimes it’s also mixed with fentanyl, a potentially deadly, synthetic cousin of heroin.
Many folks dream and fantasize about escaping from their day-to-day lives, though, come to think of it, if done right, a party can be just the distraction you need. It’s a perfect getaway from your problems as both music and smiling are contagious. The increase in endorphins allows for a productive mood variation that can lessen the torment of depression. Luckily for party-goers, looking for something that “gives a high like never before” isn’t hard as new drugs are always hitting the market. Such was the case in the year 1974 when Alexander Shulgin, the Godfather of Ecstasy, created the synthetic substance known as 2C-B. The Harvard-educated chemist known for his work with Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy), originally developed phenylethylamine 2C-B in the early 1970s. He then marketed and sold it as a libido enhancer and treatment for erectile dysfunction and Phenylethylamine 2C-B went by the name Performax or Erox. In 1995, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency reclassified the drug as a Schedule 1 Controlled substance because they concluded it had no acceptable medical use and a high potential for abuse.
This admittedly was part of a broader group of hallucinogenic phenethylamines named the 2C family inclusive of 2C-C and 2C-D, its high being a mix of MDMA’s euphoria spun with the distortions of LSD. However, 2C-C and 2C-D were banned while 2C-B was allowed to continue where its demand came from the European disco scene. As time went on, 2C-B arrived in the Colombian nightclubs in the late 2000s courtesy of a young and rich group of friends who smuggled it from Europe and then sold it within their upper-class circles. Soon it became known as the elite drug due to the fact that both the working and middle class continuously used it despite it being way more expensive than their locally produced cocaine. However, as elite as the drug was, despite it being synthetic there still lingered an issue that had the ability to stop consumption: the product looked and felt abrasive. This meant that the powder wasn’t visually engaging and on top of that, snorting it was painful. To combat this, a vendor added aromatic pink food coloring to the 2C-B mixture. According to Julián Andrés Quintero, an investigative sociologist at Social Technical Action, which is a Colombian drug policy NGO, he said it made consumption easier and a better experience.
With a bold new color, easier consumption and sporting an elite drug status, the demand for Tuci increased. According to Insight Crime, “Yet, while demand was high, supply remained far too low: even in Europe 2C-B was a niche drug and only a tiny portion of that was reaching South America. So, Colombian vendors began cutting it heavily, bulking their powder with caffeine and synthetic drugs like MDMA and ketamine which, though also European imports, were cheaper and more available. The chemical combinations differed, but the format was normally the same: a nice-smelling pink powder that contained at least a stimulant (“an upper”) and a depressant (“a downer”). Worldwide, the general term for this is a “speedball.” Soon enough, the “Tusibi” or “Tusi” fueling Medellin’s nightlife contained almost no actual 2C-B. To this day, the purity has never recovered, and 2C-B is extremely rare in Latin America, according to a 2021 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC.)”
Within the last ten years, since there’s been a resurgence of Phenylethylamine 2C-B recreationally as a party drug, manufacturers have been quicker to manufacture the drug as a pill or pink powder which is ingested either orally or intranasally. Again, not to be confused with cocaine, Pink cocaine and regular cocaine have a few similarities which include the risk of addiction and chemical dependence. Where Cocaine is a concentrated, refined form of the coca plant known as cocaine hydrochloride, it acts as both a stimulant and anesthetic, which is why it has some medical applications and is a Schedule II substance in the U.S. Pink Cocaine, however, is a man-made (synthetic drug) phenylethylamine that achieves its psychoactive properties by reacting with the body’s serotonin system. It can quickly become an addiction that doesn’t discriminate from long-term adverse effects.
The risks of this party drug are high, as chances are you don’t know what it is that is mixed together and called Tuci: “It could literally be anything’. It’s been said that “The amounts of each substance change wildly from batch to batch, so you’ll never get exactly the same high twice. It’s called ‘dealers’ leftovers’ in Holland as it’s literally the sweep of whatever’s in the bottom of the bag, then dyed pink to make it look pretty. Even madder is the creator of Tuci saying she doesn’t sample her product as she knows the harm it does, “We know the harm it does to the central nervous system. What we manage to do here is to get people hooked and keep them there to become potential clients. We don’t care about what happens to their family or house. We simply sell and they consume.”