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Designer drugs put youths at risk, but recipe changes tie officers’ hands

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.

Dueling experts

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.

NMS Labs 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.”

Posted: 4/22/2014 10:42:00 AM

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New synthetic drug investigated in Fishers teen’s death

From: Fox59

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. - Police have opened a criminal investigation into the death of a Hamilton County teen who made have died after ingesting synthetic drugs.

John Joseph Romaine, 18, was found unresponsive in his Fishers home Friday evening. According to his obituary, the Hamilton Southeastern High School senior died of cardiac arrest. The Hamilton County coroner is waiting on toxicology results before ruling an official cause, but police are looking into a possible overdose of synthetic drugs.

Police told FOX59 they found illegal drugs inside the home along with three men, including Romaine, who was unconscious.

Officers got there and observed a male lying on the floor and immediately began CPR until medics arrived," said Officer James Alvis, a spokesman for Fisher Police. All three were hospitalized, and Romaine was later pronounced dead.

A Reddit post, which appears to be written by Romaine's older brother, describes the night in detail and points the blame on a new synthetic drug called N-Bomb or NBOME. The author warns people not to use the drug and expressed deep regret over his brother's death.

FOX59 went to St. Vincent Carmel Hospital to find out more about the drug. Emergency room physician Dr. Marcus Hendry explained that it's a psychedelic drug that is often compared to LSD, but it is considered more powerful depending on the purity and dosage.

"They might experience agitation, hallucination, might get high fever, muscle injury, kidney failure, all the way to persistent seizures that may require the induction of a medical coma or even death as a result of persistent seizures or perhaps more commonly death." explained Hendry.

Police are now looking into the Reddit post and warning parents and teens to consider how dangerous synthetic drugs can be. They have not ruled out any arrests in this case.

Posted: 4/10/2014 2:18:00 PM

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School Board Votes to Test Student Athletes for Synthetic Drugs

From: Independant Herald

Synthetic drugs have been added to the substances for which Wyoming County student-athletes may be tested. The Board of Education unanimously approved the addition to the drug testing program at its meeting last Monday night.

“The normal test drugs did not include the synthetic drugs,” said Superintendent of Schools Frank “Bucky” Blackwell.

“Mr. (Jeff) Hylton wanted the board to know that the synthetic drugs are gaining in popularity,” he added. “It’s not actually detected under a regular drug test.

“Anybody who might be using the synthetic drugs would just go scot free,” Blackwell said. “Our whole goal is to catch it in time so that something could be done about it before it gets out of hand or somebody overdoses or has an accident.”

Testing for synthetic drugs is twice as costly as the regular testing, Blackwell noted, “Hopefully the costs will come down.”

“We’ve had great results,” the superintendent remarked. “We don’t catch too many, but we’ve never had a repeat offender.”

If there is a positive test result, Blackwell said, “you have to call Mom and Dad and law enforcement.

“That’s a shocker,” he continued. “Most parents have no idea their child would do something like that. As it has turned out, we have stopped a lot of kids from using drugs.”

Students who test positive are expelled, he pointed out, “and they have straightened up.”

With the addition of synthetic drugs, a student-athlete may be tested for one type of drug or both, Blackwell explained.  “We don’t pick up the phone and ask [the company] to test unless someone is behaving in such a way that would indicate they have a problem.”

He says the board “backs the program 100 percent. It’s paying dividends for our children.

“We feel we have to what we can to help prevent the use of drugs,” Blackwell observed.

Written by John Conely
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This is a great step in the right direction to helping solve the problem of designer drugs, especially with our youth.  Hopefully other districts will join suit and help convey the message that even though some of these drugs may be legal they are still very dangerous and shouldn't be used.
 

Experts Warn of Synthetic Drug Acetyl Fentanyl

From EMS World:

Officials in North Carolina announced they were on the lookout in March for a drug called acetyl fentanyl, which they blame for three deaths in the state.

A CDC health advisory released June 20, 2013 first warned of the drug. “Recently, a number of intravenous drug users have overdosed on a new, non-prescription injected synthetic opioid, acetyl fentanyl,” the release stated.

Between March 2013 and May 2013, 14 overdose deaths related to injected acetyl fentanyl occurred among intravenous drug users in Rhode Island.

When Pennsylvania asked coroners and medical examiners across the state to screen for acetyl fentanyl, the request led to 50 confirmed fatalities and five non-fatal overdoses statewide in 2013, the CDC later reported.

The CDC’s warning recommends increased vigilance by public health agencies, emergency departments, state laboratories, medical examiners and coroners for patients with symptoms consistent with opioid overdose and lab results showing an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) positive for fentanyl.

Posted: 4/2/2014 11:30:00 AM

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New Synthetic Drug Linked To Teen's Death

From WBIW (Indiana):

Police have opened a criminal investigation into the death of a Hamilton County teen, who made have died after ingesting synthetic drugs.

18-year-old John Joseph Romaine was found unresponsive in his Fishers home Friday evening. According to his obituary, the Hamilton Southeastern High School senior died of cardiac arrest. The Hamilton County coroner is waiting on toxicology results before ruling an official cause, but police are looking into a possible overdose of synthetic drugs.

Police said they found illegal drugs inside the home along with three men, including Romaine who was unconscious.

All three were hospitalized, and Romaine was later pronounced dead.

A Reddit post, which appears to be written by Romaine's older brother, describes the night in detail and points the blame on a new synthetic drug called N-Bomb or NBOME.

E.R. Physician Dr. Marcus Hendry explained that it's a psychedelic drug that is often compared to LSD, but it is considered more powerful depending on the purity and dosage.

Posted: 4/2/2014 10:46:00 AM

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Temporary Placement of 10 Synthetic Cathinones Into Schedule I

From the DEA:

The Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is issuing this final order to temporarily schedule 10 synthetic cathinones into schedule I pursuant to the temporary scheduling provisions of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This action is based on a finding by the Deputy Administrator that the placement of these synthetic cathinones and their optical, positional, and geometric isomers, salts and salts of isomers into schedule I of the CSA is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety. As a result of this order, the regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions applicable to schedule I controlled substances will be imposed on persons who handle (manufacture, distribute, import, export, engage in research, conduct instructional activities, and possess), or propose to handle these synthetic cathinones.

NOTE:  The 10 substances are: 4-methyl-N-ethylcathinone ("4-MEC"); 4-methyl-alpha-pyrrolidinopropiophenone ("4-MePPP"); alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone ("α-PVP"); 1-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2-(methylamino)butan-1-one ("butylone"); 2-(methylamino)-1-phenylpentan-1-one ("pentedrone"); 1-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2-(methylamino)pentan-1-one ("pentylone"); 4-fluoro-N-methylcathinone ("4-FMC"); 3-fluoro-N-methylcathinone ("3-FMC"); 1-(naphthalen-2-yl)-2-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)pentan-1-one ("naphyrone"); and alpha-pyrrolidinobutiophenone ("α-PBP").


Posted: 3/19/2014 12:15:00 PM

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Concerns Over New Dangerous Drug "Gravel" Spreading To Central Ohio

From WBNS-10TV (Columbus, OH):

Law enforcement is being warned tonight about a new, dangerous drug called gravel.

The cocktail can include rat poison, bath salts and methamphetamine. It reportedly makes users paranoid and suicidal.

It got the name gravel by the way it looks.

"When you combine a variety of drugs, none of which are good, you get a combination of something that is even worse than the sum of its parts," said Paul Coleman, the president and CEO of Maryhaven.

The new drug is being tracked in the southern part of the United States. A task force there is now warning law enforcement here in Central Ohio that it may be heading this way.

Posted: 2/27/2014 9:36:00 AM

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New Drug Debuts On Local College Campus

From KWQC.com (Davenport, IA):

It's the first of its kind on the Knox college campus according to college police. They say officers were alerted about a student who had ingested the drug and was a psychotic episode and needing help. After investigating, campus police decided to inform the entire community through a drug alert.

Some of the students responded immediately by handing over the rest of the drug paraphernalia used by the hospitalized student. Galesburg Police chief David Christensen says the drug is called 25-I. It's a synthetic drug that mimics the effects of LSD while leaving its user in distress and experiencing hallucinations. Christensen says it's a the first for this drug being in the area.

Posted: 1/30/2014 11:00:00 AM

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Synthetic marijuana use down, but real pot use up among teens

From CBS News:

While use of synthetic pot is down among high schoolers, more teens are smoking real marijuana, a government survey revealed.

Health officials are concerned, as the survey also found fewer teens are worried about the potential dangerous effects from marijuana use.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health released the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey on Wednesday. The annual survey asks eighth, 10th and 12th graders across the country about their drug use history and how they feel about illicit drugs. This year’s survey involved results from 41,675 students from 389 schools.

Synthetic marijuana -- often sold under the brands K2 or Spice -- was not as popular as it used to be among 12th graders. The survey showed 7.9 percent of high school seniors surveyed admitted to using it this year, while 11.9 said they smoked it last year.

Daily pot use among high school seniors was recorded at 6.5 percent, up 4 percent over the last 20 years. Overall, 23 percent of seniors, 18 percent of 10th graders and 12 percent of eight graders lit up in the month before being surveyed.

The survey's authors are concerned, because less than 40 percent of high school seniors believe that marijuana use will have negative effects. Those numbers are the lowest since 1978.

Part of the concern is because marijuana today is stronger than it used to be. In 1990, marijuana had about 3.35 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient that gets users high. In 2013, pot contained a little less than 15 percent THC on average.

Over the last five years, opioid, alcohol and cigarette use also declined, according to the survey. Vicodin and salvia use was down amongst the oldest teens surveyed, as well as the use of inhalants by eighth graders. Cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine abuse levels remained low among students.

However, researchers were startled to find that non-medical use of Adderall has increased over the last four years. About 7.4 percent of high school seniors said they used Adderall recreationally in 2013. The researchers believe that teens think that using the prescription ADHD drug will help their grades, and there is some evidence they are using the pills to get high.

Deadly drug 'N-bomb' claims teen's life

From WHTM ABC27.com (Harrisburg, PA):

A new designer drug is believed to be responsible for the death of a Cumberland County high school student.

Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick said a 17-year-old Trinity High School student who died from an overdose last month had a drug called "25I-NBOMe" in his system.

A synthetic version of LSD, or acid, 25I-NBOMe is also known by the street names "N-bomb," "251" and "smiles." It is sometimes sold as LSD, unbeknownst to the buyer.

Across the nation, at least six deaths have been linked to its use. The drug currently is unregulated by federal law, but Louisiana, Florida and Virginia have been trying to ban it.

Posted: 10/7/2013 11:16:00 AM

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