From the Montgomery News
With states and municipalities working to ban new forms of legal drugs and recent reports of Demi Moore inhaling “incense” that resulted in her recent hospital visit, scientist Robert Middleberg of NMS Labs in Willow Grove held a press conference hoping to spread the word to parents about these products.
Synthetic marijuana, often called designer drugs K2, Spice or incense
, are legal herbal mixtures that are laced with chemical compounds that can cause a “legal high,” which is similar to the effects of smoking marijuana that are caused by substances called cannabinoids.
Middleberg said while the sensation can mimic that of being high, it is dangerous because it can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia and increased heart rate. In addition, he said these side effects and the high sensation can be exaggerated and last longer.
“Parents have to look out for these. They’re far from safe,” Middleberg said. “A lot of the people that end up in emergency rooms are children and they think they’re getting high or having fun with their friends without understanding the potential danger of using these substances.”
Besides synthetic marijuana, Middleberg said products called bath salts
— which are more dangerous and cause effects like methamphetamines — are also popular with children and teenagers looking to have “legal highs.”
Middleberg warns parents to keep an eye out for packages of synthetic marijuana because of how dangerous it can be.
From The Intelligencer
Dr. Robert Middleburg, a forensic toxicologist with National Medical Services in Willow Grove, said the two main varieties of synthetic drugs (“bath salts” and synthetic marijuana) can be deadly, citing dangerous hallucinations or delusions that can result from synthetic cannabinoids and the potential for overdose with abuse of bath salts.
As director of NMS labs, which performs toxicology tests for police departments, Middleburg said they are finding these synthetic designer drugs are being used more and more.
In just the first five months of 2011, poison control centers nationwide received more than 2,200 bath salt-related emergency calls, up from 302 calls for all of 2010, according to a Department of Justice report.
To stay ahead of laws prohibiting the use, possession and sale of these drugs, manufacturers frequently alter their chemical formula slightly to keep their product legal. Middleburg said it is a challenge for forensic toxicologists to come up with testing methods that can detect the various metabolized compounds that are in the body after use of synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts. Middleburg said scientists at NMS have developed several different tests as the chemical compounds have changed.
He also said states have written laws vague enough to encompass changes in the synthetic drug formulas. But the challenge there is broadening the ban without affecting compounds that scientists may discover have legitimate uses, he said.
From The Daily Sentinel
As the list of synthetic drugs continues to grow each day, workers at Highlands Medical Center and the facility's Occupational Medicine Center want employers to be aware of the dangers and ways to check for them.
"For an employment drug test, many employers check for the basic drugs, like marijuana," said Johnny McCrary, director of Highlands Occupational Medicine Center. "We want employers to be just as aware of the synthetic drugs too."
Dr. Barry Logan, the National Director for Forensics and Toxicology Services at NMS Labs, recently spoke during a synthetic drug awareness seminar held at the Education Center of Highlands Medical Center.
During his discussion, Logan shared the similarities between marijuana and synthetic marijuana, and also bath salts and methamphetamines. While the drugs have many of the same side affects, their chemical makeups differ slightly, making it hard to distinguish on a regular drug test.
"Right now our labs are working to develop drug tests that will catch these synthetic drugs, however, there are so many different variations of them that it's been a difficult task," Logan said.
Toxicology patterns and information from drug to drug changes daily, Logan said.