Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Federal agents seized about 5 million packets of synthetic drugs along more than $36 million in cash while arresting more than 90 people in the first nationwide crackdown of synthetic drugs.The raids, called Operation Log Jam, involved the DEA and five federal agencies as well a state and local police in more than 100 U.S. cities.
On July 10 President Obama signed a bill that bans the sale, production and possession of 31 compounds commonly found in bath salts and synthetic marijuana after a surge over the last two years in the distribution of drugs made of legal chemicals that mimic cocaine, amphetamines and other illegal stimulants.
Smokable herbal blends marketed as “Spice” or “K2” are labelled “herbal incense” and say “not for human consumption” but contain psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
The most common types of bath salts, like MDPV and mephedrone, were first developed in pharmaceutical research laboratories but were never approved for medical use. Powerful bath salts can cause a surge in energy, fever and delusions of invincibility.
“We’re seeing extreme agitation, hallucinations that are very vivid, paranoia and some really violent behaviour, so it’s a real crisis for us,” Dr. Sullivan Smith of Cookeville Regional Medical centre in Tennessee told the AP. “We sedate the living daylights out of them. And we’re talking doses on the order of 10 or 20 times what you would give for a painful procedure.”
In 2011 the American Association of Poison Control centres received more than 6,100 calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 — up from 304 in 2010 — and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012. 60 per cent of the cases involved patients 25 and younger.
The production of a wide spectrum of synthetic drugs makes them very dangerous as it becomes almost impossible to know what people have ingested or how long the effects will last.
“Cocaine is cocaine and meth is meth. We know what these things do,” Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison centre, told AP. “But with these new drugs, every time the chemist alters the chemical structure, all bets are off.”
The haul included 4.8 million packets of synthetic cannabis and 167,000 packets of bath salts.
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