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Substance Abuse

Synthetic Marijuana Use Triggers More Hospitalizations in New York

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The thought that New York hospitals take in hundreds of patients a day may sound normal, but not if it’s because of only one cause.

The New York City Health Department issued a statement via a news release, saying that synthetic marijuana has caused 160 people to be sent to emergency rooms in the state within a nine-day period. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that apart from the increase in ER visits, calls received by poison control center have risen as well. “Synthetic drugs are anything but harmless, and this rash of severe health emergencies across the state is direct proof,” Cuomo said.

The city’s health department reiterates that synthetic pot in its various forms — most notably Spice and K2 — is illegal. Dr. Mary Bassett, who works as the city’s Health Commissioner, said that the risk of using synthetic cannabis lies on the fact that the illicit product contains unidentified substances that may be harmful to human health. “There’s no way of knowing exactly what synthetic marijuana contains,” Bassett added.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has frequently warned the public against using synthetic marijuana, saying that some of its side effects include abnormally high heart rate, vomiting, anxiety and hallucinations.

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Substance Abuse

Chemicals Found in Spice to be Banned by House, Senate

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Twenty-six chemicals found in synthetic marijuana will be banned, after the House and the Senate agreed on legislation to do so last June 18.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) revealed that panelists who decided the details regarding the proposed Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act have agreed to classify the said chemicals in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I substances of the Controlled Substances Act.

The substances that will be banned under the legislation include nine different next-generation chemicals; dimethoxyphenethylamines, also known as “2C”; and 15 synthetic cannabinoids.

In addition to the ban on 26 substances, the legislation will double the length of time that a substance may be placed in Schedule 1 status, from 18 to 36 months. It also provides a definition for the term “cannabamimetic agents” – substances that are manufactured to mimic the effects of THC.

Synthetic marijuana is being sold legally in some areas under such brand names as K2, Spice, and Yucatan Fire, and given the product description “incense.” Synthetics are sprayed on dried plant material and sold in brightly colored packages.

It has become a favorite among young people looking for that “high” that illegal substances provide, but who do not wish to break the law. These substances are still, for the most part, undetectable in urinalysis tests, and relatively few of the chemicals that comprise these substances have been declared illegal.

Manufacturers of synthetic marijuana have also been rather quick about changing compounds in order to circumnavigate new restrictions that are being enacted.

Drug Testing Substance Abuse

More Teens Turn to Synthetic Marijuana!

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In Portland, Oregon, doctors are said to be noticing an increase in teenagers who exhibit symptoms of seizures and agitation. These symptoms, according to a feature on KGW.com, are being caused by the popularity of synthetic marijuana.

K2Spice or K2 is being sold as a legal alternative to marijuana and is becoming increasingly popular in Oregon and Washington; it is not detected in drug tests. K2 user Alex, last name withheld, shares his experience with K2: “It’s a mental euphoria. In about two minutes, you get to feel the effects and you have a smile on your face.”

The key ingredient in Spice is JWH-018, a chemical that provides the same effect as pot.

Pete Schulberg of the Oregon Partnership shares: “You don’t want to be smoking this stuff. What people are getting high on has nothing do with the herb. It’s the chemical that is sprayed on the herb. It makes it very dangerous.” He says further that the government should declare the substance as a public hazard.

Dr. Zane Horowitz, executive director of the Oregon Poison Center, reports that they have observed teens in emergency rooms who are agitated, have high blood pressure or had seizures. The symptoms mimic that of methamphetamine more than marijuana.

KGW went undercover to see the popularity of K2 for themselves, and they found a bottle of spice that read: “not for human consumption.”