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.
 

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.

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.

3 deaths may be tied to synthetic marijuana in Colorado

From CNN:

Three people in Colorado may have died after smoking synthetic marijuana, state health officials fear. The Colorado Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into an outbreak of illnesses at hospitals that may be tied to the dangerous substance.

"Initial reports show approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs beginning in late August," said Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state, in a written statement. "Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated."

The Colorado Department of Health, with help from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will attempt to figure out if the synthetic marijuana is to blame, and if so, whether all the patients were sickened by the same product or different ones.

Posted: 9/6/2013 2:48:00 PM

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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.

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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UN sounds alarm on widespread designer drug use

From Yahoo! News:

The U.N. drug control agency on Wednesday sounded the alarm on the spread of designer drugs, which are sold openly and produce legal but sometimes deadly highs, while reporting that global drug use generally remains stable.

Such substances "can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs," the agency said in a statement accompanying its annual report. "Street names, such as 'spice,' 'meow-meow' and 'bath salts' mislead young people into believing that they are indulging in low-risk fun."

A six-page summary of the report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime warned that "the international drug control system is foundering, for the first time, under the speed and creativity" of their proliferation.

It said countries worldwide reported 251 such substances by mid-2012, compared with 166 at the end of 2009. The problem, said the report, is "hydra-headed" in that as fast as governments ban the drugs, manufacturers produce new variants.

Nearly 5 percent of European Union residents aged between 15 and 24 have already experimented with such drugs, said the report.

In the United States, 158 kinds of synthetic drugs were circulating during 2012, more than twice as many as in the EU, and use was growing in East and Southeast Asia, including China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

DEA Launches 'Largest Ever' Synthetic Drug Bust

From U.S. News & World Report:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced on Wednesday that it has launched its "largest ever" sweep against synthetic drugs, issuing hundreds of search and arrest warrants across the globe.

Law enforcement officials executed more than 150 arrest warrants and nearly 375 search warrants in 35 states, 49 cities and five countries on Wednesday, according to a DEA statement. More than 225 people have been arrested in the United States, Australia, Canada, Barbados and Panama as a result of the crackdown, BBC News reported.

"This is a significant seizure of synthetic drugs and is a terrific result for our respective law enforcement agencies," said Graham Fletcher, Australia's acting ambassador to the United States, in the DEA statement. "Australia remains committed to sharing intelligence with its U.S. partners to combat transnational crime across international borders. This is a win for our collective communities."

The operations targeted trafficking organizations focusing on designer synthetic drugs, that have operated "without regard for the law or public safety."

Since the project began last December, more than 75 arrests have been made and nearly $15 million in cash an assets have been seized, according to DEA officials. More than 550 kilograms, about 1,200 pounds, of drugs have been seized in the last three days.