Last July, the Marine Corps officers in North Carolina took a bold step toward controlling the use of synthetic marijuana among the troops. They told shops near Marine bases to refuse to sell K2, Spice, Triple X, Fake Weed and their kin to troops. The Corps was ahead of the Drug Enforcement Administration by a few months, but the agency caught up last week by banning the drug nationwide.
The DEA’s action makes it illegal to sell or to posses any of the five chemicals that are used in the fake marijuana products. The ban was issued as an emergency action which will be in effect for only a year. An emergency action is only used in the event of “an imminent public health crisis” and is only appropriate when research and regulatory action is underway. The DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will study the chemicals and their effects over the coming year before adding those five chemicals to the federal list of unsafe, highly abused controlled substances that have no known medical use.
The drugs have become popular among teenagers and college students as a legal alternative to marijuana. The packets of herbs coated with the dangerous chemicals are sold as incense or potpourri in places frequented by the target age group: convenience stores, spiritual shops and online. The packets vary in price, some going for as much as $35 per ounce.
The chemicals mimic the effects of marijuana, but reported side effects are dire. In the past year poison centers have reported patients suffering from dangerously high blood pressure, rapid heart rate and paranoia or hallucinations.
The action has its critics, though. Groups that favor the legalization of marijuana say that the DEA’s action will create an illegal market, helping to foster criminal activity devoted to manufacturing and selling the drugs.
Resource: USA Today “DEA Bans K2, Other ‘Fake Pot’ Products” 11/25/10