by: Grendel

Trenbolone Acetate is an infamous steroid. Hailed as one of the best pre-contest steroids, athletes have tried to find alternatives to the original Parabolan, a compound that hasn’t been produced in more than a decade. One method of obtaining an ester of trenbolone has become excessively popular; that method is extracting the steroid from cattle implants using various home chemistry kits sold all over the internet. Many athletes labor under the mistaken impression that this illicit home chemistry will not land them in serious legal trouble. Alas, reality is an unwelcome intrusion, perhaps at the hands of armed law enforcement with an arrest warrant.

Cattle implants are legal to purchase only because of a loophole in the drug enforcement laws. However, the legality of this purchase depends on the intended use of the product; in case you cannot deduce what the intended use for cattle implants are, let me fill you in - you are supposed to shoot the implant into the ears of cattle (cows, etc - not your own ass). In fact, the federal laws that exempt sale of steroid implants for use in animals expressly provides that:

If any person prescribed, dispenses, or distributes such steroid for human use, such person shall be considered to have prescribed, dispensed, or distributed an anabolic steroid within the meaning of [the criminal conduct section of the law] (21 U.S.C. Sec. 802(41)(B)(ii))

The result is that if you buy a cartridge of Finaplix (a veterinarian implant containing trenbolone) and use it on a cow, you are well within the legal guidelines. If you were to sell that same cartridge to your buddy to use in a bodybuilding related fashion, guess what - you are now a drug dealer and you just made your first steroid sale. Congratulations.

The federal statute mentioned above does not proscribe possession. You could have the implants, in their original form, and not have violated the law unless the totality of the circumstances could lead to the inference that you were about to engage in illegal conduct. I imagine that if you ordered a package of implants from a site that also sold a conversion kit and the package was intercepted, this might warrant closer scrutiny from law enforcement. I could not find a single case dealing with such a situation, but I would caution anyone who thinks that they have a carte blanche to possess cattle implants (particularly in Miami or New York City - try to convince a jury the implants were for your herd in Brooklyn).

Ok, let’s pause and review. It appears legal (on its face) to:

1.Purchase veterinary implants containing steroids from a store
a. Purchasing them from an individual at the gym would probably raise concern that the implants were being dispensed for human use. The key is that implants cannot be linked directly with actual or intended human use - that is a criminal offense.

2.Possess cattle implants in their unaltered state
b. It is unclear whether implants, converted into another form, would be illegal to possess. Again, the relevant inquiry would be whether the new form was intended to facilitate human use. Factually, the pellets are designed to be used with animals and that is the customary method of administering the drug - I think it would be a weak argument that you have to convert the implants into a sterile oil-based injectable product for use on your cows.

Conversion Kits

There are several sources for so-called conversion kits. While some entrepreneurs may offer these kits under the guise of “home chemistry kits” (supposedly, you can try to figure out the solvency of various chemicals) this is not some “talismanic phrase” that will thwart legal action against someone who sells or uses these kits to convert cattle implants into injectable steroid preparations.

The issue is whether conversion kits meet the definition of paraphernalia as designated by Congress in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, § 1822(a)(1), (d), as amended, 21 U.S.C. (1988 Ed.) § 857(a)(1), (d), and as cited in Posters. The court in Posters concluded that Section 857 would not be void for vagueness if:

First, the list of items in § 857(d) constituting per se drug paraphernalia [provided] individuals and law enforcement officers with relatively clear guidelines as to prohibited conduct. Second, § 857(e) sets forth objective criteria for assessing whether items constitute drug paraphernalia. These factors minimize the possibility of arbitrary enforcement and assist in defining the sphere of prohibited conduct under the statute.

The Act states, in relevant part:

"The term 'drug paraphernalia' means any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance, possession of which is unlawful under the Controlled Substances Act (title II of Public Law 91-513) [21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq.].

Thus, the standard the court adopts is an objective one; a drug paraphernalia determination does not depend on what the seller could argue that he or she intended a legitimate use for the product. Specifically, the court noted that:

Congress did not include among the listed factors a defendant's statements about his intent or other factors directly establishing subjective intent. This omission is significant in light of the fact that the parallel list contained in the Drug Enforcement Administration's Model Drug Paraphernalia Act, on which § 857 was based, includes among the relevant factors "[s]tatements by an owner ... concerning [the object's] use" and "[d]irect or circumstantial evidence of the intent of an owner ... to deliver it to persons whom he knows, or should reasonably know, intend to use the object to facilitate a violation of this Act."

The objective standard is based partially on the following eight factors from Section 857.

In determining whether an item constitutes drug paraphernalia, in addition to all other logically relevant factors, the following may be considered:
(1) instructions, oral or written, provided with the item concerning its use;
(2) descriptive materials accompanying the item which explain or depict its use;
(3) national and local advertising concerning its use;
(4) the manner in which the item is displayed for sale;
(5) whether the owner, or anyone in control of the item, is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products;
(6) direct or circumstantial evidence of the ratio of sales of the item(s) to the total sales of the business enterprise;
(7) the existence and scope of legitimate uses of the item in the community; and
(8) expert testimony concerning its use.

Further, the court is not swayed by the availability of a small number of legal alternative uses for a product. This is based on the court’s discussion of the statutory phrase “primarily intended” which the court concludes to mean:

We conclude that the term "primarily intended ... for use" in § 857(d) is to be understood objectively and refers generally to an item's likely use. Rather than serving as the basis for a subjective scienter requirement, the phrase "primarily intended or designed for use" in the definitional provision establishes objective standards for determining what constitutes drug paraphernalia. (Emphasis added)

It seems, based on the totality of the factors described by the court, that conversion kits would be classified as paraphernalia. Such a determination would be strengthened immensely by the context of the sale, in the instant case most likely Internet publications, emails and instructions, and possibly the discussion on the seller’s websites or hosted discussion forums. The argument that such kits are marketed for those who want to make injectable preparations of legal pro-hormones would probably not be persuasive if the court determines, as a factual matter, that the kits are predominantly employed to manufacture illicit steroids. The same analysis would seem to also apply if the defendant argues that such kits are for home solubility experiments (or the like) because the court would seek to ascertain the likely use, not merely a plausible use. Judging from my research on suppliers of conversion kits, the websites, emails, and instructions would not support the finding that the kits were sold for legitimate home research, despite the appellation “research kit”.


While many ‘experts’ on the web will disagree, I suspect that cattle implants are a legal time bomb. Right now, the illegal purchase of cattle implants is probably an insignificant percentage of total sales (given the sheer size of the cattle industry) and there is probably no political will to reign in sale of these hormonal implants. But wait until some 19 year old college kid screws up a conversion kit, gets arrested, or the practice receives similar negative media attention. Very quickly, law enforcement will crack down on this unregulated internet activity.

Obviously, you could best protect yourself by not purchasing cattle implants unless you are a rancher or have other legitimate use for the product. Beyond that, do not think that the “experimental use defense” is going to prove successful. I cannot imagine many situations in which the courts will nod their heads and say, “yep - seems clear that Brutus was conducting solubility experiments -never mind some of his finished product goes missing…”

Prosecutors will look at the totality of the circumstances surrounded the purchase and use - you live in downtown Miami and you ordered 200 implants…does sound a bit curious doesn’t it? You ordered the products from a site that also sells conversion kits, provided detailed instructions on the process, and is called “GET BIG AS HELL. COM”. Your computer history reveals that you frequent bodybuilding boards, “steroid” pages, etc. Do you begin to see the pattern that it is far too easy to paint for a courtroom audience? I also caution you to remain skeptical of the “information” provided to you by online sites that are usually little more than fronts for a dealership - do you think that a website, selling implants, is the best source for unbiased information about the consequences of possession? I would suggest strongly that you exercise your best judgment in how much contact you have with such businesses, remembering that every email and transaction might be marked “Exhibit A”.

DISCLAIMER - This is article is not a legal advice and should not be taken as such. This article provides information about the law designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. I recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that this information, and my interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.