We hear words tossed around like K2, Spice, Bath Salts… all things that meant something very different 10 years ago. K2 was the second highest peak in the world, spice was merely a savory food additive, and bath salts were just…bath salts. Nowadays, with the development of synthetic drugs, the words K2, Spice, and Bath Salts can inspire fear and awe. The bizarre and often violent reactions that have been reported have the words “zombie apocalypse” splashing across the media. Spice and K2 are now the more commonly known street names for many varieties of synthetic marijuana. Bath salts are the new moniker for a variety of synthetic amphetamines.
In March of 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) placed a temporary ban on 5 chemicals whose effects mimic marijuana. The temporary ban was proposed after more than 3,000 calls to poison control centers all related to “fake pot.” The original banned chemicals included JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP 47,497 and cannabicyclohexanol.
These chemicals, in small doses, can cause a marijuana-like high. Symptoms of this high can be laziness, hunger, and mirthfulness. The bigger concern with these chemicals is what happens when taken in larger doses. Even in a smaller amount, many of these chemicals can be hundreds of times stronger than others – so accurately measuring a dose becomes almost impossible. In large doses, these chemicals have been reported to cause seizures, paranoid hallucinations, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and extreme forgetfulness.
While many of these substances had been banned in some states, there had yet to be a concerted federal ban of the chemicals. The initial ban was for one year; however the DEA would have the option of extending the ban for an additional 6 months. Following the original ban on these 5 chemical substances, hundreds of variants surfaced as “chemists” attempted to find ways to skirt the ban. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, more than 100 similar substances have been synthesized and identified to date.
In March of 2011, the DEA extended the temporary ban for an additional 6 months. The DEA stated in a press release: “We continue to address the problems of synthetic drug manufacturing, trafficking, and abuse. Our efforts have clearly shown that these chemicals present and imminent threat to public safety. The six month extension is critical and gives us the time necessary to conduct the administrative scheduling process for permanent control.”
In the mean time, the national awareness of these chemical substances has skyrocketed with reports of unstoppable face-eating and other bizarre acts of violence allegedly caused by ingestion of these synthetic drugs.
In June, 2012, the DEA stated in a new press release that Congress passed a bill to add 26 synthetic drugs to the Controlled Substances Act. The increase from the original 5 chemicals to 26 is in response to the many new variants that continued to pop up after the initial ban. This new permanent bill lists 26 chemicals and also defines “cannabamimetic agents” which creates criteria by which similar compounds can be controlled. In addition to synthetic marijuana (K2 and Spice), the new bill also bans synthetic amphetamines and other similar substances (Bath Salts), as well as synthetic hallucinogens. The 26 chemicals will be classified as Schedule I controlled substances. According to the federal guidelines, Schedule I controlled substances are those substances with a high potential for abuse; no known medical use in treatment in the United States; and lack an accepted safe use of the drug. Possession of a Schedule I controlled substance is a felony in Colorado.
A cannabamimetic agent is defined as “any substance that is a cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CBI receptor) agonist as demonstrated by binding studies and functional assays within a number of structural classes [as defined in the bill]. This definition gives broad range to the DEA to classify and control new synthetic drugs that are bound to appear following this new permanent ban. In addition to listing the new banned drugs, the new legislation will allow the DEA to impose emergency temporary bans for up to 36 months. Previously, the maximum temporary ban was 18 months. The 26 listed chemicals are:
- CP-47,497 C8 homolog
- JWH-018 and AM678
- SR-19 and RCS-4
- SR-18 and RCS-8
The JWH and AM family of drugs are generally known as synthetic marijuana –K2 and Spice. Mephedrone and MDPV are synthetic amphetamines – Bath Salts. The 2C family of drugs are generally referred to as synthetic psychedelic/hallucinogens. The misuse and abuse of these drugs have been reported to have a plethora of negative side effects. Recently, the synthetic drug 2C-E caused the death of a 19 year old in Minnesota. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that they received 6,959 calls related to synthetic marijuana in 2011, up from 2,906 in 2010. With the multitude of horrific stories surrounding the use of these synthetic drugs, the DEA and local law enforcement agencies are likely to take full advantage of this new law and really crack down on those found to be in possession of these drugs
K2 is no longer just the second highest mountain in the world…
If you have been charged with possession of bath salts, Spice, K2 or any other synthetic marijuana in Colorado, contact the Denver defense attorneys at Tiftickjian Law Firm, P.C.