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Man accused of cutting unborn baby from wife blames synthetic marijuana

From Mississippi News Now:

A man accused of attacking his pregnant wife and killing their unborn baby appeared in court for a hearing Thursday for the first time since the October incident. On his way into court, Jeffery Reynolds blamed synthetic marijuana for what happened.

The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office said Reynolds attacked his wife, Paula, 28, with a kitchen knife at their Walker, LA home on Oct. 23, 2012.

Investigators said he stabbed her in the abdomen and cut their baby out of her. She survived the attack.

A toxicology test was run on Reynolds, but at last report, the results had not been sent back to authorities.

Reynolds remains behind bars on $500,000 bond. He is charged with first-degree feticide and second-degree attempted murder.

Posted: 1/18/2013 11:46:00 AM

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Fake Pot Is A Real Problem For Regulators

From NPR:

This week, President Obama signed a law banning synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Dozens of states and local governments have already tried to outlaw fake marijuana, which has been blamed for hundreds of emergency room visits and a handful of fatalities.

But the bans have proved largely ineffective, and there are fears that the federal law won't be any different.

There are no clinical studies about the health effects of synthetic marijuana. But anecdotally, health care providers report a long list of nasty side effects, from agitation and paranoia to intense hallucinations and psychosis.

Christine Stork, the clinical director of the Upstate New York Poison Control Center, says synthetic marijuana can be 20 times as potent as real marijuana. But it's hard to predict the strength of any particular brand or packet — in part because it's remarkably easy for anyone to make and package synthetic marijuana without any oversight or regulation.

In a video posted on YouTube, an unidentified man shows how it's done, using damiana, a Mexican shrub, as the base. All you need is some legal plant material and some chemical powders that can be easily ordered from overseas labs.

Most states have already moved to ban some synthetic cannabinoids — the chemical compounds that are the key ingredient in synthetic marijuana. But Burns says it's not that simple.

"You have people that are very good with chemistry, that continue to manipulate the molecular structure of these substances," he says. "So that they are creating analogues, or substances that are similar to those that have been banned."

The result is a big game of cat and mouse. The government outlaws a certain compound or family of compounds. But then producers tweak the chemical formula of their products to skirt the law.

Despite a slew of federal, state and local bans, sales in the synthetic drug industry seem to be growing — to roughly $5 billion a year, according to Rick Broider, president of the North American Herbal Incense Trade Association.

So far, law enforcement officials have been mostly stymied in their efforts to treat synthetic drugs makers like conventional drug dealers. This week, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012. It will mean tougher criminal penalties for selling some first-generation synthetic cannabinoids and many newer ones as well.

The new law should help, says Burns of the DEA.

Navy to step up Breathalyzer and synthetic marijuane tests of sailors

From The Associated Press:

The Navy soon will begin giving Breathalyzer tests to many of its sailors before they report to work aboard a ship under a new program that will spread to the Marine Corps later this year.

Details of the Navy program are still being worked out, but not every sailor who walks onto a ship will be given a Breathalyzer test. Navy officials estimate that between one sixth and one eighth of a ship's crew will be given the test, which will target those standing watch and overseeing important aspects of a ship, such as its nuclear reactors. Other sailors may be tested at random.

The Navy is setting aside $8 million to begin the program and anticipates spending $2 million to keep it going.

Mabus said sailors who are found to have been using alcohol before reporting to work won't necessarily be punished, but the tests will be used as a way to help identify sailors in need of treatment and to serve as a deterrent for those considering drinking heavily the night before a shift.

The tests are part of Mabus' 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative, an expansive program intended to improve the well-being of sailors and Marines after more than a decade at war.

Among other things, sailors also will be given random drug tests to check for the use of synthetic marijuana, which the military prohibits its members from using. Many states also outlaw synthetic drugs. Sailors caught using synthetic drugs through the urine tests will be prosecuted under military law.

Posted: 3/6/2012 10:32:00 AM

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New health concerns about ‘fake pot’ in US

From Outcome Magazine:

A type of fake pot has raised new health concerns in the United States after at least three users were hospitalized for kidney failure, authorities in the western state of Wyoming said Monday.

Often known as “Spice” or “K2,” the substance is marketed to young people as herbal incense, and creates a marijuana-like high when it is smoked like a joint or a cigarette.

“At this point we are viewing use of this drug as a potentially life-threatening situation,” Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, said in a statement sent to AFP.

State health authorities first learned of the latest incidents on Thursday involving three patients in central Wyoming who sought hospital care after smoking a product known as “blueberry spice,” a spokeswoman added.

There have been no deaths and no reports of connected cases in other areas, she added.

However, drug policy experts say that fake pot use has been on the rise in recent years.

Posted: 3/6/2012 8:58:00 AM

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DEA extends emergency controls on chemicals used for fake pot, still plans permanent controls

From The Washington Post:

The Drug Enforcement Administration is extending emergency controls for six more months on five chemicals used to make fake pot products.

The agency is working on permanently designating smokable herbal products containing the five chemicals as controlled substances. The DEA took emergency action a year ago, making it illegal to possess and sell the five chemicals or products containing them.

The agency says the extension will provide time to complete the steps to permanent controls.

Posted: 3/1/2012 9:16:00 AM

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Attorney General's office expands ban on chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana


New Jersey’s recent battle with designer drugs has been a game of cat and-mouse.

Last year the state banned methamphetamine-like powders known as "bath salts."

But users moved to a similar, still-legal drug called "2CE."

And when chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana were banned, dealers found new ways to create the substances and sidestep the law.

Faced with a evolving problem that many are struggling to understand, Attorney General Jeff Chiesa today announced what he described as a sweeping solution to the designer drug problem:

Ban first. Ask questions later.

Under the new ban, Chiesa said, any chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana are now illegal in New Jersey, according to an emergency order issued today by the state Division of Consumer Affairs.

The ban lists 10 classes of chemicals, outlawing hundreds of compounds that could be used to create synthetic marijuanas.

He said it also bars the sale of any substances that might be used to create the drug in the future, a provision to illegalize compounds not specified in the ban. No chemicals listed in the ban are used in other products, he said.

Posted: 3/1/2012 8:39:00 AM

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NMS Labs on the Growing Problem of Synthetic Drugs

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.

Was Demi Moore Smoking K2 Spice Before Seizure? Drug Expert Weighs In

From Radar

Demi Moore’s frantic 9-1-1 phone call has shed more light on the night she had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital, and it may have also revealed the substance that she was smoking.

As previously reported, a friend of Moore’s can be heard on the call explaining to the operator: “She smoked something, it’s not marijuana, it’s similar to incense. She seems to be having convulsions.”

A likely possibility is that Demi was smoking K2 Spice, a “currently legal herbal incense product spiked with powerful designer drugs” that don't show up in tests, according to WebMD. spoke with addictions specialist Dr. Phil Dembo, who said judging by the description on the 911 call, he believes Moore was smoking K2 Spice, which is currently legal in the U.S. but under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Dr. Dembo said Demi’s convulsions could have been a result of smoking the substance.

Posted: 1/30/2012 8:29:00 AM

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Teen Injured By Synthetic Marijuana Dies After Transplant

From (Pittsburgh):

A 13-year-old boy who ended up in the hospital after smoking a synthetic form of marijuana has died, a month after receiving a double-lung transplant.

Brandon Rice injured his lungs in August after smoking a substance known as K2.

Shortly after smoking the drug, the teen developed nausea, a full body rash, headaches and high fever. His father said the substance caused a chemical burn in his son’s lungs.

The teen received a double-lung transplant on Sept. 28. His aunt said his prognosis was so good that the family had begun sending out emails to help raise funds for transplants.

But less than 15 minutes after they sent the e-mails, Brandon Rice passed away.

Rice’s family said an infection from the transplant likely took his life.

Rice's parents said they want other teens to know just how dangerous synthetic drugs can be.

Posted: 10/31/2011 10:31:00 AM

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Coroner: College athlete ingested chemical found in fake marijuana before he died


Anderson University basketball player Lamar Jack died after ingesting a chemical that is a key ingredient in synthetic marijuana, the county corner said Saturday.

Lab testing and analysis revealed that Jack had the chemical JWH-018 in his body when he collapsed during a preseason warm-up with his team on Sept. 30. Just days later, on Oct. 4, Jack died. He was 19.

On the basis of an autopsy and the toxicology test results, Shore is ruling Jack’s death accidental — caused by “acute drug toxicity with excited delirium that led to multiple organ failure.”

The chemical found in Jack’s body is used to make fake pot, a classification of substances that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration calls synthetic cannabanoids.

Posted: 10/24/2011 9:19:00 AM

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