With the rise in popularity of synthetic marijuana even across the ranks of the military, Hill Air Force Base is now issuing a new mandate to include these new drugs in random drug tests conducted on personnel.
The new random drug testing program at the Hill Air Force Base started early this year, to replace the old practice of having to issue a request from higher officials. 75th Medical Group commander Col. Craig Rice shared that the old program was a hindrance to ensuring the prevention of synthetic drug abuse in the ranks. “Typically, that would occur during an investigation when an individual was suspected of using (synthetic marijuana),” said Col. Rice in a news release.
The change in the Air Force drug testing scheme is aligned with the zero tolerance policy issued by the Department of Defense against the use of synthetic marijuana and other illicit drugs.
Synthetic marijuana is considered illegal in the Air Force, although it’s only now that the substance is going to be included in the default design of random drug tests. In fact, the Air Force Instruction specifically states that “the knowing use of any intoxicating substance, other than the lawful use of alcohol or tobacco products, that is inhaled, injected, consumed, or introduced into the body in any manner to alter mood or function.”
Members of the military are in full support for the synthetic marijuana random drug test. Lt. Col. Tom Martin of the Army supports the government’s stand on illicit drug abuse. “The message we’re getting out now is that when you participate in our random urinalysis program, synthetic marijuana products will now be tested along with our other drugs,” Lt. Col. Martin added.
If you are still skeptical about the risks of synthetic drug abuse, then this bit of news might make you think twice.
In November of last year, the family of Kurtis Hildreth found the 18-year-old dead inside his bedroom with a partially lit pipe containing the illicit drug Spice and a lighter nearby. According the Alaska Dispatch, the medical examiner’s office declared the cause of death as “undetermined”, much to the frustration and anger of Hildreth’s family.
Hildreth lived with his aunt, Kerri Stevens, when the incident happened. “The pipe was right there by his feet. He was a healthy kid. The lighter was right there. The pipe was right there. He never had any kind of heart problems or seizures,” said Stevens. The teenager was supposed to tour around Alaska and be presented a job offer in a commercial glass company run by his aunt’s family. With the teen’s death, the plans were all for naught.
Alaska plays host to a number of designer drugs readily available in smoke shops. These synthetic marijuana versions are packed in attractive packets, such as the brand “Mr. Nice Guy” with a dead smiley face at the front of the packaging. This particular brand was the one found in Hildreth’s bedroom where he was found lifeless.
Brandon Jenkins, the victim’s best friend, was able to talk with Hildreth moments before the teenager sniffed the controversial drug. “Life will lead you in better directions than this stuff will. Life has many opportunities, and death only has one,” Jenkins added.
The impact of outlawing the sale of synthetic marijuana and bath salts in the Sunshine State is something that can’t be ignored. Even though some clandestine sellers are still offering Mr. Nice Guy, Cloud Nine, and Maui Wowie to a select number of buyers, new data show a significant decline in the number of emergency room visits and calls to Poison Control centers due to synthetic drug use.
Around the state, calls to Poison Control centers dropped from 537 in 2012 to 109 in the first seven months of 2013. It’s been also noticeable that most gas stations and convenience stores have stopped carrying the so-called “herbal incense” and bath salts that were usually seen in fancy packages.
“The bans are working,” David Gross, special agent supervisor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, told The Huffington Post. “They’re not nearly as prevalent and on display. The genie is out of the bottle and they know they need to conceal it or they are going to pop up on law enforcement’s radar.”
So far, more than a dozen cities and counties within Florida have banned synthetic drugs since last year. But officials warn the public, especially parents, to remain vigilant as there are others who’ll do everything to tweak the chemical ingredients of synthetic marijuana and bath salts in order to skirt the law and continue their business.
Funky Green Smoking Blend, for example, was recently seen being sold behind the counter for nearly $15/packet. It’s a fairly new brand of synthetic marijuana whose ingredients were possibly changed by illegal drug manufacturers in order to avoid the law.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has led a crackdown on synthetic drugs to keep them off the shelves for good. She continues to work with legislators and law enforcement to go after those selling the drugs as well as to identify emerging compounds and add them to the list of controlled substances.
A new kind of synthetic drug is causing alarm among parents in the Old North State.
25I-NBOMe — also known as N-Bomb, 25i and Smiles — is a potentially dangerous synthetic drug sold in pill or powder form via the Internet. Like spice and bath salts, this new designer drug targets teenagers who are looking for legal highs.
A Wake County parent sought the help of ABC 11′s I-Team to raise awareness about N-Bomb after discovering that her son was using the drug.
“I found Facebook messages that were sent by my son to some of his friends, and talking about taking this drug during school hours, during class, mentioning different periods during school,” said the mom, whose name was withheld.
The mother explained that she has heard a few things about N-Bomb and that it “can cause hallucinations, seizures, and even death.” She wants to raise awareness about the drug to save her son as well as other kids.
In New Hanover County, a 25-year-old girl died last year from N-Bomb overdose. Similar incidents were also reported in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and North Dakota in 2012.
“This particular drug, I have read, is something that can kill you in one dose,” the mother added. “So it’s very, very frightening.”
Like other synthetic drugs proliferating across the country in the recent years, there isn’t enough studies that could identify the effects of N-Bomb to users. Thereby, making it even more dangerous for people who experiment with it.
Ann Hamlin, agent from SBI drug lab, explained that N-Bomb exhibit stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. The drug is especially worrisome because no one really knows what it can do in humans.
“The places where they are manufactured don’t have any quality control,” Hamlin said. “These kids are taking things that have not been tested and approved by anybody.”
One way kids obtain N-Bomb is by purchasing the drug through sites that can’t be access via Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. Silk Road, a site that can only be accessed by downloading the Tour Browser, allows people to purchase N-Bomb using a digital currency called Bitcoin.
As such, parents were being advised to be more vigilant in their kids’ online activities and what they do with their friends, especially now that drug dealers are becoming more sophisticated in peddling their illegal products.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) unveiled today its latest drug report which indicates the overwhelming proliferation of new psychoactive substances (NPS).
NPS are often marketed as “legal highs” and “designer drugs.” They are sold via the Internet, smokeshop, and convenience stores under the names spice, meow-meow, and bath salts.
Member States reported that the number of NPS have increased from 166 at the end of 2009 to 251 by mid-2012. To make matters worse, the drugs can be obtained without running into legal trouble, the 2013 World Drug Report noted.
The usual target of NPS are teenagers who are easily misled into thinking that the substances are safe. However, the lack of clinical trials on NPS make public health experts agree that the drugs can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs.
“Given the almost infinite scope to alter the chemical structure of NPS, new formulations are outpacing efforts to impose international control,” the UNODC said. “While law enforcement lags behind, criminals have been quick to tap into this lucrative market. The adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood.”
In response to growing emergence of NPS, UNODC has launched an early warning system that will allow the global community to monitor the proliferation and take appropriate actions.
Australia is waging war against synthetic marijuana and related substances by imposing a 120-day ban on the products.
Australian authorities have echoed their concern over the fast-moving trend of synthetic cannabis in the country, victimizing both the youth and young adults. According to Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, nineteen synthetic drugs will be temporarily banned from sale and supply until states and territories are able to update their own synthetic drug laws.
“Synthetic drugs are dangerous substances that can kill and should not be available for sale,” Bradbury told Agence France-Presse.
Earlier this month, New South Wales imposed an interim ban on synthetic drugs following the death of a teenage boy from Sydney, who apparently took a synthetic LSD product that made him believe he could fly. Other states and territories have also imposed ban on synthetic cannabis products though the drugs are are still widely available over the Internet.
Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare confirmed over the weekend that the Australian government will also develop a legislation to would ensure that unauthorized synthetic drugs won’t be allowed entry into the country.
Synthetic marijuana has become a serious problem in Australia as it is in the United States. Officials say that illegal drug manufacturers are getting smart enough to change formulation of synthetic drugs to avoid the law. Hence, they will work on blocking the import of new drugs that are “presumed to be illegal until the authorities know what they are and clear them as safe and legal.”