By now we are all aware of the dangers of illegal drugs, and even the dangers of abusing legal prescription drugs. Recently there has been a rise in the popularity of legal, “synthetic drugs” that has led many in the fields of medicine and law enforcement to become concerned about the negative effects they have on their users. These drugs can cause many negative health and legal consequences, and have even led to several deaths.
One of the most popular and widely used types of these synthetic drugs is the marijuana-like form. There are many different names and variations of these drugs, such as “K2”, “Genie”, “Zohai” and “Spice”. These drugs work by mimicking the effects that the active ingredient in marijuana, “THC” (Tetrahydrocannabinol) has on the brain. Although many of the makers of these drugs claim that they only include a mix of different medicinal herbs, several government and independent organizations have conducted their own testing on many of these products and produced results contrary to what was listed in the ingredients. In fact, some of the medicinal herbs listed were not found at all, while potentially dangerous chemicals that were forms of synthetic cannabinoids not listed in the ingredients were found.
While these drugs are being marketed as natural and “safe” some experts are stating that they are anything but; in fact they can be up to 15 times as powerful as marijuana and can cause a plethora of health and behavioral problems. Hospitals and Poison Control Centers are reporting incidences of severe agitation, hallucinations, elevated heart rate, vomiting and seizures. Law Enforcement has been faced with several incidents of aggressive and even violent behavior. One 18 year old young man committed suicide last year after ingesting K2, and it has been implicated in as many as a dozen more deaths and many more violent incidents. There have also been several reported incidences of unintentional overdoses.
Another frightening but legal drug that has exploded in popularity recently is the synthetic known as “Bath Salts”, which mimic the effects of drugs like cocaine. They are marketed under such names as “Cloud 9”, “White Lightning”, “Ivory Soft”, or “Ivory Coast”. These drugs have a stimulant effect on the user and are being smoked, snorted or even injected to attain that effect. The chemicals that are found in these drugs include mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). MDPV stimulates the central nervous system and reportedly has caused intense panic attacks, psychosis and addiction. The synthetic has been found to induce paranoia, hallucinations, insomnia, vomiting, and cold sweats. This drug seems to make its users even more violently aggressive than the synthetic marijuana alternative, many of which seem to be impacted by hallucinations which drive the users to commit these violent acts against themselves and others.
Some of these incidents caused by the users of these drugs are so bizarre that you would think they were created in Hollywood, but they are all too unfortunately real. In one case, a young man violently slashed his own face after ingesting bath salts, while another young mother inflicted a severe head injury on her two year old child because she believed he was a “demon”. Many users have committed suicide, attacked friends or family members, or even random strangers. One young man was killed after running head first into an oncoming car, while another broke into a monastery and attacked a sleeping priest. The effects of these drugs are clearly causing the users to lose touch with reality and turn them into a danger to society.
Many states are currently looking into banning these drugs as the terrible consequences of their continued legal sale have become all too clear. Sales of synthetic marijuana has already been outlawed in eight states, and many more (including New York) are currently looking at legislation aimed at banning the drugs. Bath salts have also become the target of outrage by many and have been scheduled for possible legislation in more than a dozen states so far, and outlawed in two. However, on October 21, 2011 the DEA also issued a temporary one year ban on the active agent in Bath Salts (MDPV) classifying it as a schedule I substance. A Schedule I substance is one that has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and one for which there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. Prescriptions cannot be written for Schedule I drugs and they are subject to production quotas and other restrictions imposed by the DEA.
Clearly these drugs, whether legal or not are extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Don’t be fooled by the packaging or the reassurances that they are safe or natural. They can cause you terrible harm and can even kill you, or cause you to harm others. Tell your kids about these drugs, and be on the lookout for these substances in your home. Let them know that they should not experiment with these drugs anymore than they should any other drug. The sooner we get these drugs banned from legal sale in our state and in the rest of the country the safer we will be.