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.”
Illegal drug makers are getting extremely creative by the day and one of their recent works is quickly gaining popularity because of its “legal” status.
Benzo Fury is a colorless stimulant that contains 5-APB or 6-APB compounds. It is sold in pellet or powder form via the Internet, and typically labelled “not for human consumption,” “plant food,” “bath salts,” or “research drug.”
Last month, a study of Benzo Fury was presented at a British Neuroscience Association conference in which experts say the active ingredient of the substance acts on the brain like both a stimulant and a hallucinogen — a combination that can make the drug dangerous to users.
“We have found that 5-APB behaves a little like amphetamine – that is, like a stimulant with addictive potential – and a bit like a hallucinogen, acting via serotonin receptors. This kind of mixed properties can be found in some illegal ‘designer’ drugs,” the presenting author, Dr. Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, said in a news release.
Dr. Opacka-Juffry is a principal lecturer in neuroscience and director of the health sciences research centre at the University of Roehampton. The co-author of the research is Dr. Colin Davidson, a senior lecturer in neuropharmacology and expert in drugs of addiction at St George’s University of London.
Benzo Fury is now considered one of the most popular “legal highs” in the United Kingdom, and it’s also sold in the United States. Both Dr. Opacka-Juffry and Dr. Davidson recommend further studies on the long-term effects of Benzo Fury because at this point no one really knows what the drug can do to users.
Dr. Opacka-Juffry, however, cautioned that it’s “in the combination of these stimulant and hallucinogenic properties that the greatest danger lies.”
The nation’s law enforcement units have more than once admitted that synthetic drugs aren’t easy to resolve because manufacturers of these substances are often ahead of the game. This isn’t surprising considering there are dozens of synthetic compounds that synthetic marijuana and bath salts makers could experiment with to get around federal and state laws.
Historically, the most popular synthetic cannabinoids are JWH-018 and JWH-073. They were two of the first five synthetic substances that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officially banned on March 1, 2011. In reality, though, there are over a hundred synthetic cannabinoids available for abuse.
Teenagers are widely known as the top users of synthetic marijuana and bath salts. They typically purchase the products from gasoline stations, smokeshops, convenience stores, and the Internet. Even though public health officials have issued warning on the dangers of synthetic drugs, many teens continue to use the products to experience the same “high” they can get from real cannabis.
Currently, more than 40 U.S. states have banned synthetic marijuana and bath salts. But what manufacturers are doing is when a governing body makes certain synthetic compounds illegal they will make similar products using synthetic chemicals that are not yet banned. This way they continue doing business without going to jail. It is for this same reason that many street names began to emerge in the recent years to cover up synthetic drugs sold across states.
Adding difficulty in combating synthetic drug use is the fact that the substance isn’t easily detected in standard drug tests. So if you’re a parent and you want to know whether your child is using synthetic marijuana, you’d have to use specialized drug tests to give yourself some peace of mind.