The synthetic drugs appear to be here to stay, after several years of increased use in a number of different states. While synthetic marijuana and “bath salts,” herbs and salts sprayed with chemicals that are designed to mimic the effects of traditional narcotics, are most commonly used in major cities, the dangerous drugs have found their way to rural areas as well. Law enforcement has found it challenging to combat the growing popularity of these types of drugs, due to the fact that the chemical makeup of these drugs in constantly being altered evading bans.
Spice, K2, Flakka
The most commonly abused synthetic drug is synthetic marijuana, plant based material that is sprayed with chemicals made in China that are meant to mimic the effects of cannabis. However, synthetic marijuana users often experience something quite different that what they expect, including: hallucinations, paranoia, agitation, and aggression. Synthetic marijuana is sold online and in smoke shops under a number of different names, most notably “Spice” and “K2”.
Bath salts (MDVP) and flakka (alpha-PVP) produce similar effects as synthetic marijuana, with equally unpredictable results. Since the beginning of the year, flakka use has been associated with a number of deaths and violent episodes involving the authorities. Use of these chemicals can lead to organ damage, including the heart, kidneys and liver.
Curbing Synthetic Drug Use
While it is difficult to keep up with bans on the insidious chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana and bath salts, officials are now turning their attention to people who sell them. In New York State, the senate introduced legislation to criminalize the sale of synthetic marijuana, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. If the legislation is passed, sale of synthetic marijuana can carry with it a Class B misdemeanor up to a Class C felony.
“The Bronx is becoming the K2 capital of New York City. Synthetic marijuana is dangerous and poses a very real public health threat to New Yorkers, their families and children. At least ten patients a week are rushed through the emergency room at Jacobi Hospital displaying frightening, erratic behavior associated with K2 use. I’m introducing legislation to keep ahead of the chemists’ curve and criminalize all analogous chemicals put into these colorful K2 packets. I’m also introducing legislation to increase penalties for stores that continue to peddle synthetic marijuana since shop owners remain undeterred by weak fines. Our District Attorney and law enforcement officials need support through new laws and funding for street testing kits to finally extinguish the sale of this cheap, addictive substance that’s hurting so many people here in The Bronx and throughout the state,” said New York Senator Klein in a press release.
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