The Fight to Stop Synthetic Marijuana

Published 08/02 2014 07:19PM

Updated 08/05 2014 12:20PM

WASHINGTON, DC -- It’s referred to as “synthetic marijuana” and use of these deadly chemical combinations is on the rise.  The American Association of Poison Control centers reports there have been fifteen hundred overdoses in 2014 alone.  It’s illegal to smoke, but not to sell. 

K-2, Scooby Snax, Bubble Gum.  These are just a few of the names synthetic marijuana wears as a disguise.  When labeled “Not for human consumption” or “Aromatherapy,” it suddenly becomes legal to sell in stores.

Joseph Moses is a supervising special agent for the DEA.  He says synthetic marijuana has nothing to do with actual marijuana. So what is synthetic marijuana?

“Synthetic marijuana is comprised of numerous chemicals synthetic chemicals, synthetic analog drugs generally produced in SE Asia, generally from laboratories in China,” said Moses.

Production of this potent potpourri is not regulated.  The chemical cocktail, which varies from package to package, opens the door to a number of dangers.

“Hallucinations, vomiting, adverse physical reactions, including organ damage, brain damage and there’s been several incidents of death,” said Moses.

It’s a wide spread problem being attacked on multiple fronts. Stephen Baron is the director of the Department of Behavioral Health in Washington, D.C.  He leads a public service campaign to educate teenagers and adults about designer drugs.

“Not one agency can tackle this, I think you gotta bring everybody together,” said Baron.

Charles Dark is the Director of a D.C. Prevention Center, he worked on the front lines of Moses’s “K2+ You = Zombie,” campaign.

“We were able to do a lot of community mobilizing, community educating, and providing technical assistance training about the adverse effects of synthetic marijuana,” said Dark.

But how is it still legal?

“What these rogue laboratories are doing is they’re slightly altering the chemical composition of one substance by maybe one or two molecules so that technically, it is not a controlled substance under the controlled substances act,” said Moses.

Congressman Mac Thornberry is working on legislation to close that legal loop hole.

“Not focus so much on the chemical composition but in how it’s used, how it’s packaged, to whom its packaged, and to try and figure out a different way to get at this problem,” said Rep. Thornberry.

In the meantime, activists are determined to stop the sales of this deadly drug, under any name.

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