Via Dallas News
A week before he died, the 15-year-old honors student had taken an illustrated book to pastures near his Frisco home looking for psychedelic mushrooms. He didn’t find any, so he tried what he thought was LSD on Dec. 14. Convulsions began within an hour after he ingested 25I, a synthetic hallucinogen more potent than LSD. The Collin County medical examiner ruled that his death was connected to the drug. In what appears to be a growing problem, three more overdoses possibly linked to 25I were reported in McKinney last weekend. They appear not to have been fatal.
Efforts to criminalize emerging designer drugs
in Texas fell flat in the most recent legislative session, making it more challenging for law enforcement agencies to crack down on the problem.
Nationally, at least 19 deaths have been linked to a set of synthetic drugs known as the NBOMe compounds
, including 25I, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The users ranged from 15 to 29 years old. Texas Poison Control Network has tallied 25 calls related to NBOMe since 2012. Six came from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Stymied in Austin
In November, the DEA temporarily added three NBOMe drugs to Schedule I. In February, the Department of State Health Services added three NBOMe compounds to the state’s list of controlled substances. The temporary move allows prosecutors to pursue criminal charges, but only misdemeanors, regardless of the amount of the drugs.
Though the state banned K2
in 2011, other kinds of “fake pot” have surfaced since. And if the chemistry is slightly different from what’s in the law, dealers can avoid prosecution.
Law enforcement and public health officials said Huffman’s bills would address that problem by outlawing certain designer drugs
and other compounds with the same core chemical structure.
Like the federal government, Texas has provisions to cover analogs — drugs that are substantially similar to some illegal substances based on their chemical makeup or effects on users.
For every case, prosecutors would have to prove in court that the compound in question was similar enough to an illegal narcotic.
“It comes down to a battle of the expert witnesses
,” said Samms, who wrote to lawmakers in support of Huffman’s proposed legislation.
And some cases don’t even make it to court if law enforcement or health officials can’t trace a drug.
in Pennsylvania, which does forensic testing for medical and legal clients across the country, handled its first NBOMe
case in 2012.
“They’re very potent, so it takes very little drug to have its effects,” toxicologist Donna Papsun said. “The challenge was creating a test with a low enough detection level so we could properly detect it in the fluids.”