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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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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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Navy Busts 64 Sailors for Drug Use, Sales

From The Epoch Times:

The Navy on Thursday said it caught 64 sailors illegally distributing or using the designer drug known as “spice,” according to The Navy Times.

Spice, which is also known as fake marijuana due to its effects, is made with synthetic cannabinoid compounds and prohibited in the Navy.

The Navy said it is discharging the sailors. Two more sailors from the submarine are being investigated.

Posted: 10/21/2011 10:43:00 AM

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‘Fake pot' tied to rash of E.R. visits in Tuscaloosa


In the past few months, at least 15 young adults have sought emergency medical treatment at DCH Regional Medical Center with the same symptoms: a racing heart and paranoia.

It sounds like a bad reaction to an illegal drug, but it's not. It's a bad reaction to a legal substance that can be purchased in gas stations and tobacco stores across Alabama.

Marketed as "incense," synthetic marijuana, sometimes called "fake pot," is a herbal product that has been treated with chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana when smoked. Similar chemicals were made illegal in Alabama last year, but chemists can alter the compounds to remain within the constraints, but perhaps not the spirit, of the law.

Users report that the effects are similar, if not more intense, than the real thing. Some gas station and tobacco store owners in Tuscaloosa who declined to be interviewed on the record about synthetic marijuana said last week that the product is a top seller.

DCH spokesman Brad Fisher said that most of the people who have sought treatment are in their early 20s and are usually discharged within two or three hours, according to emergency room doctors.

Often called "Spice" or "K2," synthetic marijuana is cheaper, easier to obtain and doesn't show up on drug tests. There's no age limit to purchase the product, which is often labeled "not for human consumption."

Police say that it's difficult to enforce the ban on the chemicals that were outlawed last year because they have no way to (field) test the product.

The Regional Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Alabama reports receiving 67 calls from people who have smoked synthetic pot since October 2010, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Three were children between 6 and 12, 15 were teenagers and 22 were in their 20s. Of those, 76 percent were male. At least 56 were treated for toxic exposure in hospital emergency rooms. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than 6,700 calls were made to poison control centers nationally in 2010 and in the first seven months of 2011 about synthetic marijuana. 

Posted: 9/26/2011 10:32:00 AM

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'Legal highs' prevalence makes ban policy 'ridiculous'

From Guardian News (UK):

New "legal highs" are being discovered at the rate of one a week, outstripping attempts to control their availability and exposing what some experts claim is the "ridiculous and irrational" government policy of prohibition.

Officials monitoring the European drugs market identified 20 new synthetic psychoactive substances in the first four months of this year, according to Paolo Deluca, co-principal investigator at the Psychonaut Research Project, an EU-funded organisation based at King's College London, which studies trends in drug use. He said officials at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), an early-warning unit, had detected 20 new substances for sale by May this year. In 2010 the agency had noted 41 new psychoactive substances, a record number, many of which were synthetic cathinone derivatives that can imitate the effects of cocaine, ecstasy or amphetamines.

Deluca said that, given the plethora of new substances, the government's attempts to ban legal highs is not a "feasible" solution. "It's also becoming very difficult to know exactly how many new compounds there are, because you have all these brand names and when you test the batch they are different from the following one." The UK, according to his reasearch, remains Europe's largest market for legal highs and synthetic compounds.

The EMCDDA favours generic bans that would cover entire groups of structurally related synthetic compounds, or chemical families, therefore removing the need to ban individual substances as they appear on the market. Deluca said: "It is impossible to implement a ban for every single new compound."
Posted: 9/6/2011 9:36:00 AM

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New products in works to replace banned bath salts, synthetic pot, salvia

From The Patriot-News:

When horror stories about bath salts and synthetic marijuana began circulating, lawmakers in Pennsylvania acted swiftly to ban the so-called fake drugs.

But manufacturers are even quicker.

Today is the first day that brands of bath salts, synthetic pot and salvia are illegal in this state.

By Wednesday, a yet-to-be-named product will be on the shelves of at least one local head shop, promising to have the same effects of synthetic marijuana.

“It’s incredible,” said George Geisler of the Pennsylvania DUI Association. “But they say that as fast as these products are outlawed they will come up with new ones, so it will never end.”

That has some wondering whether this will continue as a cycle: more new drugs and more new laws.

Since Gov. Tom Corbett signed the ban into law last month, customers at Hemp’s Above in Mechanicsburg have been asking: “Are they coming out with anything else?”

Owner Brian Edmonson said about three-quarters of his sales came from synthetic pot while it was legal. Now he’ll sell a new mixture, but he said the stuff doesn’t have a name, and he’s not sure if he should call it incense, or potpourri — or something else.

Edmonson says he asks for identification from every customer, but most of his clients are over 30, and about half use synthetic marijuana for therapeutic reasons.

The forensic society might not be prepared for these drugs.

“They can’t test it like they test coke and marijuana,” said midstate attorney Justin McShane, who says he specializes in forensic science.

When you’re caught with an illegal drug — in your possession or in your blood — police have to confirm that the substance is actually the outlawed chemical compound.

For drugs that are familiar, there is an answer key. McShane says that isn’t down to a science for these newly banned synthetic drugs. He thinks it will cause problems in the courts.

Edmonson says his suppliers tell him Pennsylvania’s law is one of strictest of the 30 states that had banned the fake drugs by midsummer. But some fear the laws can’t keep up.

New drugs fuel wave of violence and death

From the StarTribune:

Designer drugs can be purchased easily online, leading users to believe they are safer than street drugs. But the chemicals can be unpredictable - and disastrous.

Past midnight, Kat Green arrived home from her police shift exhausted. Then her smartphone started ringing with urgent messages. Mass drug overdose. Party at a ranch house outside of town. On the way, more information trickled in: At least a half-dozen young adults sick, some near death.

Packaged and sold as innocuous products such as "herbal incense" and "bath salts," the drugs are touted by users as legal alternatives to marijuana, cocaine and other controlled substances that can bring stiff penalties and jail time in even small amounts.

Altogether, poison control centers have received more than 6,600 calls about designer synthetics this year, 10 times more than the first half of 2010. Synthetic drugs have been linked or suspected in more than 20 deaths nationally in the past year, while emergency rooms are treating more patients who have overdosed on sometimes tiny amounts of designer synthetics.

Merchants are introducing new products online, too. When the DEA temporarily banned five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana early this year, retailers started promoting new mixtures they claimed were not covered by any bans.

The market is too lucrative to disappear. Herbal incense, sometimes called synthetic marijuana, accounted for nearly $5 billion in sales last year, according to an estimate from the Retail Compliance Association, a national retailers group that formed to challenge herbal incense bans.

The new drugs lack regulatory oversight and quality control. Users often rely on each others' Internet postings to find out how much they should take and what they could experience.

Many of the substances are so new to the market that they have little track record. What may give one user a euphoric high could permanently injure someone else. Erratic labeling means buyers sometimes wind up with vastly different chemicals than the ones they ordered.

More than a week before the deadly party, college student Cody Weddle visited a little-known chemical website and placed an order, court documents allege. He and others had researched 2C-E, an investigator said. Internet posts describe it as a sensory-enhancing psychedelic similar to LSD. A user nicknamed "Easy Rider" told Web readers about her "joyful night" on 2C-E, which made her feel "very warm and happy" and "more in control of myself than the drunk people around me."

Around midnight, less than an hour after swallowing the drugged water, some at the party started wondering what was wrong with their batch. Instead of feeling great, many felt nauseated.

Stacy Jewell lay sick in a bedroom. Others threw up on the lawn and in the living room. Everyone dripped with sweat.

At age 22, Stacy Jewell -- who in recent years had tried to talk others out of doing drugs -- died after a drug overdose.

After a week of waiting, Oklahoma law dictated Andrew Akerman's life support be turned off.

Preliminary tests later revealed that the powder delivered to rural Oklahoma wasn't 2C-E at all, but a drug called Bromo-DragonFLY -- a chemical that some websites warn is even more dangerous.

The man accused of placing the Internet order sits in jail charged with murder -- a charge that has drawn mixed feelings in town. Some residents think it is too harsh, that Weddle didn't intend to hurt anyone and those at the party freely chose to take the drug. Authorities continue to investigate others who were at the party.

Agilent Technologies Publishes Industry’s First Compendium to Test for Synthetic Marijuana Compounds

From Vadvert UK:

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced availability of the industry’s first GC/MS compendium to test for synthetic cannabinoids, recently declared controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. They are most commonly found in “herbal incense” blends.

The compendium  available from Agilent at no cost to qualified forensics labs, contains detailed procedures for sample preparation and GC/MS method, plus a searchable mass-spectral library to test for 35 synthetic cannabinoids and their derivatives. The method and library were developed in collaboration with the Criminalistics Division of NMS Labs, an independent forensic laboratory certified by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.

Posted: 6/1/2011 10:16:00 AM

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Synthetic marijuana widely used at Naval Academy, some Midshipmen say

From The Washington Post:

A synthetic form of marijuana is widely used at the U.S. Naval Academy because it cannot be detected in routine drug tests, according to several former midshipmen who have been removed from campus for using or possessing the substance.

Since its introduction at the academy last year, synthetic marijuana has become popular among rank-and-file midshipmen and on the football and wrestling teams, the former midshipmen said. Some isolated corners of the historic Annapolis campus, they said, have become well-known gathering spots for smoking it.

The use of synthetic marijuana, which often is called "spice" after a popular brand name, is rising at an alarming rate across the military, commanders say. It cannot be detected in the random urine tests that are a routine part of military life.

Posted: 3/1/2011 9:31:00 AM

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Air Force officials warn: 'Spice' harmful to health, career

From the U.S. Air Force:

A recent spate of incidents involving service members abusing the herbal mixture "spice" has prompted uniformed service leaders to stress the ramifications of using the drug and other prohibited substances.

Posted: 2/11/2011 3:27:00 PM

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