Randall County nets Texas' first felony conviction for K2

From the Amarillo Glode-News:

A local shop owner was the first person convicted of felony charges for the synthetic drug K2 in Texas.

James Medina has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in Randall County to selling the drug in his shop, Up N Smoke, a year ago.

Potter County District Attorney Randall Sims said Potter also is doing everything in its power to eliminate K2.

Three other seizures have been made in the past year for similar drugs. Randall County authorities arrested the owner of The Green Gorilla Smoke Shop on a drug charge in November. In April, Amarillo Police Narcotics Unit seized similar substances at Planet X and Borger police arrested a Pampa man for delivering such substances.

Posted: 9/17/2013 1:51:00 PM

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What you need to know about synthetic drugs

From CNN:

What exactly are synthetic drugs?

There is no exact definition, because the term is used to describe a wide range of chemical products that are ever-changing. Synthetic marijuana and "bath salts" are the most common of these drugs. Unlike drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, these drugs do not come from plants; they are manmade.

When did they start appearing in the United States and who's using them?

These drugs first appeared in the United States around 2009, according to Scherbenske, and they have since exploded in popularity, particularly among teenagers.

Social media-savvy teens use the Internet to spread the word about where to find these drugs to -- as Scherbenske explains -- "discuss the effects these substances had on their body."

What's the point of making synthetic drugs?

Synthetic drugs makers have easy access to customers by marketing these drugs as harmless household items. So they make lots of money.

Are these drugs legal?

The federal government and at least 38 states have taken steps to ban the substances. But, as soon as one compound is banned, the molecular structure of the synthetic product is altered and that "changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we're at it again," James Capra, DEA chief of operations, said at a news conference in June, according to Time magazine.

Retailers are also skirting the law by labeling the drugs as "not for human consumption," according to the DEA's Scherbenske.

The manufacturers' main goal is to alter the chemical compound to stay one step ahead of the law.

The combination of those compounds and their reactions "is very scary," Scherbenske said.

"We do not know the long term effect that it will have on a person's body."

Who is making this stuff?

Most of the chemicals that are used to make these synthetic drugs are coming directly from China, according to the DEA's John Scherbenske.

Who's selling it here in the U.S.?

Scherbenske says people are starting their own businesses to sell these drugs once they see the profit potential.

These retailers have even taken the feds to court to protect their business: four stores sued the DEA in 2011, claiming the federal agency was "impeding their business," Scherbenske said.

With Labs Pumping Out Legal Highs, China Is the New Front in the Global Drug War

From TIME:

The drugs arrived in an “unnamed, unmarked package,” recalls Timothy LaMere. The rest of what happened that night is more of a blur. After sharing the 2C-E — a synthetic imitation of the rave drug ecstasy — with friends at a house party in Blaine, Minn., things started to go very wrong. Those who took the drug became dangerously unwell — sweating, shaking, rolling around on the floor and experiencing seizures and severe pain. LaMere was among 10 people hospitalized, while one friend, 19-year-old Trevor Robinson, father of a 5-month-old baby, died after “punching walls, breaking items, staring and having dilated pupils and yelling,” according to the criminal complaint. LaMere is currently serving a 10-year sentence for third-degree unintentional murder in a state correctional facility.

The 2C-E that LaMere purchased online is part of the latest drug scourge of new psychoactive substances (NPS), dubbed “legal highs,” to blight not only the U.S. but countries all over the world.

Almost 90% of countries surveyed for the 2013 U.N. World Drugs Report attributed synthetic drugs a significant market share. Suburban laboratories around Chinese port cities are the principle source, from where they can be easily shipped to Europe or North America using regular international courier services. These new drugs are specifically created to mimic the effects of illicit street drugs such as cocaine and cannabis while skirting legal prohibitions. The labeling on packages uses a variety of fanciful descriptions — such as “plant food,” “bath salts” or even “potpourri” — and usually includes the token proviso “not for human consumption.” Yet the brand names used (“Benzo Fury,” “The Joker” and “Blaze”), the psychedelic wrapping and their sale alongside drug impedimenta such as glass pipes and bongs leaves no doubt as to their true purpose.

At present, over 200 such substances exist with more created every day. As soon as one variation is explicitly banned, the chemists tweak the molecules and “it changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we’re at it again,” James Capra, DEA chief of operations, said at a news conference in June. To make matters worse, Chinese chemists are not just sitting back waiting for their products to be made illegal. Often they have already created the next variation of a substance and have it ready to hit the streets before the ink on the banning order of its parent drug has dried. The subtle changes in the formulas can also have lethal effects.

In the U.S., 11% of 17- and 18-year-olds admit to using legal highs, and they are now the second most popular class of recreational drug among American students after cannabis. Despite being marketed as legal and even low-risk, many are actually more dangerous than traditional narcotics.

Molly: An Old Drug With Terrifying New Tricks

From Yahoo! Shine:

Molly — the innocuous street name for a drug linked to at least three fatal overdoses in the past month — sounds more like someone’s great-aunt than an illegal substance. A better name for the designer drug, according to both drug enforcement and medical experts, would be “Russian Roulette.”

“When a buyer abuses something called Molly, there’s no way to tell what’s in it,” Rusty Payne, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Agency told Yahoo Shine. “That’s the most dangerous thing about these drugs.”

The so-called party drug is believed to be responsible for two deaths and for sickening several more attendees of last week’s Electric Zoo music festival in New York, though final toxicology reports are still pending. Earlier in the week, Molly, which sells for $30 to $50 in capsule pill or powder form, was linked to another death at a concert in Boston.

In its purest form, Molly (short for 'molecule'), is a crystallized and powdered form of MDMA, a mind-altering combination of research chemicals with euphoric, empathetic and heightened sensory effects which can last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours. But the unintended side effects range from depression due to the surge of serotonin the drug releases in the brain, to severe dehydration, elevated body temperature and rapid heartbeat. And that’s if the drug is pure.

As demand for the drug spikes, Payne tells Yahoo Shine, he’s seeing synthetic counterfeits, particularly Methylone, sold under the same name. Described by one Redditor as “Molly’s sketchy cousin,” Methylone is a synthetic drug in the family of bath salts. In a 2012 report published in a toxicology research journal, one woman who believed she’d ingested Molly collapsed at a concert after taking the drug, then returned to her feet before convulsing and later dying.

While drug enforcement agents have had Molly on their radar for some time, the drug has just now come into mainstream consciousness, with references everywhere from Instragram hashtags and T-shirt lines to pop music. For parents, even those who came of age when X signified more than just a generation, hype around the drug is alarming, if not alarmist. “I’m not saying everyone is going to die if they take ecstasy,” says Clark. But he warns, “the drug can be dangerous to some people and we don’t know which people.”

Posted: 9/5/2013 8:25:00 AM

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CDC Issues Alert On Deadly New Designer Drug, Acetyl Fentanyl

From Forbes:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert on a peculiar cluster of designer drug overdose deaths that will appear in the August 30th issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

In March and early April this year, Rhode Island public health officials noted an unusually high number of drug overdose deaths, with 21 cases in one month relative to an average of nine. Ten deaths were associated with what was originally thought to be the prescription opioid drug, fentanyl.

However, subsequent detailed analysis by the CDC and Rhode Island public health officials revealed that the drug was a chemical relative called acetyl fentanyl. Four additional cases were identified later up through May 26th, bringing the acetyl fentanyl death total to 14.

Authorities called these cases a “cluster” because all but one death occurred in the same small northern Rhode Island town with no cases in the state capital of Providence. Other drugs such as cocaine, other opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines were found in the majority of victims, but one person died solely from acetyl fentanyl.

While first identified in Rhode Island, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs reported on June 27th that acetyl fentanyl was implicated in 50 fatal overdoses and five non-fatal overdoses across that state this year.

Most concerning to public health officials is that acetyl fentanyl is truly a new designer drug in that no previous reports exist documenting overdose deaths with this chemical. Even the internationally-known recreational drug information site Erowid.org does not currently have any entries on this chemical.
 
Posted: 8/30/2013 10:13:00 AM

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Road safety conference targets drug and alcohol

From Health Canal:

Road safety experts are hoping to uncover the next big breakthrough in reducing the road toll at T2013: The 20th International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety conference to be held in Brisbane from August 25-28.

T2013 conference chair and director of CARRS-Q Professor Barry Watson said the conference, which brings together road safety experts from across the world, would tackle one of the major causes of road deaths and injury - drink and drug driving.

Professor Watson said "designer drugs" were the new face of drug abuse across the world.

"Research has shown new designer drugs that mimic drugs such as cannabis and amphetamines are being used at an unprecedented rate and are difficult to detect," he said.

"This is presenting a huge challenge and one that will be a major focus of the conference.

"Being a step ahead in the detection of designer drugs is crucial and we will have guest speakers including Marilyn Huestis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Barry Logan from the Centre for Forensic Science Research and Education to provide an insight into how we can overcome this challenge."

The ICADTS conference is regarded as the leading international meeting in the field of alcohol, drugs and traffic safety.

Posted: 8/28/2013 10:25:00 AM

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New “Crazy Clown” Drug Hits Streets Of Georgia

From WSAV:

A scary new drug known as "Crazy Clown" is sending some users to the hospital. The synthetic incense is causing authorities to sound the alarm.

Chief Matt Doering says all eight users, ages 16 to 26, were unable to control themselves.  Some were taken to the ICU unable to breathe.

Police are now testing "Crazy Clown" to see what chemicals it contains.  Doering says manufacturers and distributors may be skirting state and federal laws by altering ingredients to stay one step ahead of the law.

The  CDC is now investigating, concerned about effect of "Crazy Clown" on other users across the country.  Right now, all police can do is issue a warning.

Posted: 8/28/2013 10:20:00 AM

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Link suspected in new drug, 5 overdose deaths

From The Boston Globe:

A sudden spike in drug overdose deaths in Boston has health officials worried that an adulterated batch of heroin or a similarly powerful illict narcotic is being sold on city streets, apparently under the name “fire,” prompting them to alert community treatment centers and homeless shelters.

Five people have died in the city of suspected opiate overdoses since July 15, says the Boston Public Health Commission, a significant jump from the one or two overdose deaths typically recorded in an entire month.

Boston officials are not sure whether heroin is responsible for the recent deaths or a novel injected synthetic opioid, known as acetyl fentanyl, that recently cropped up in Rhode Island and has been blamed for 14 deaths there. Those overdoses prompted the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a nationwide warning.

Acetyl fentanyl is “about five times more potent than heroin,” said Matthew Lozier, a disease tracker at the CDC. “It’s easier for a person, if they are unaware of the drug they are consuming, to overdose.”

Samples of the drugs involved in the Boston deaths have been sent to labs for testing, but the results are pending.

Posted: 7/25/2013 11:32:00 AM

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Police concerned about bath salt drugs after incident

From Stevens Point Journal:

When Stevens Point Police officer Gary Anderson arrived at a home on the northeast side of Stevens Point on July 8, he had no idea he would be encountering the effects of a new drug in the area.

Anderson and other officers found a middle-age Stevens Point woman lying on a bed, thrashing around, seemingly unaware of her surroundings and what she was saying or doing.

What Anderson and other officers were witnessing were the effects of bath salts, a drug obtained on the Internet. The incident has police on edge at the possibility that bath salt use could start becoming more common in the city.

The use of bath salts is becoming an issue in Wisconsin, according tothe Wisconsin Department of Justice. The tribal government in Lac Du Flambeau in northern Wisconsin declared a state of emergency in response to the number of incidents of the drug’s use.

Posted: 7/18/2013 12:03:00 PM

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New Zealand: Prove recreational drug is safe, then you can sell

From CNN:

The New Zealand government wants to make sure your high is safe.

In an attempt to tackle the popularity of new-generation synthetic party drugs -- sold widely in convenience stores and blamed for triggering a spate of mental health issues -- New Zealand authorities have taken a radical new tack.

A new law shifts the onus to the makers of synthetic recreational drugs, forcing them to conduct clinical tests to prove their products are safe -- similar to the way pharmaceuticals are regulated.

It's the first nation to take a dramatically different approach to psychoactive substances like party pills and synthetic marijuana.

In a 119-to-1 vote on Thursday, the country's parliament passed the Psychoactive Substances Bill, establishing a framework for testing, manufacturing and selling such recreational drugs.

Under the law, new psychoactive drugs cannot be sold unless they pass health regulations. That process will be determined by the country's Ministry of Health.

Here is what else the Psychoactive Substances Bill entails:
- Restricts where and how psychoactive drugs are sold
- Prohibits sales to minors
- Restricts labeling and packaging of products
- Gives existing products a grace period to begin application process