The Chinese government’s ban on certain chemicals has led to a decrease in the synthetic drug flakka in Florida, according to Drug Enforcement Administration officials. China banned 115 chemicals in October.
Several local governments have started to include synthetic cannabinoids in their criminal justice drug monitoring programs in an effort to deter their use, after it became clear many people were using the drugs because they knew tests wouldn’t detect them, according to the Director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR).
Calls to poison control centers regarding synthetic marijuana have almost doubled since last year, NPR reports. The drug, which is made of various chemicals sprayed on plant material, is sending thousands of people to emergency rooms.
Officials in cities across the United States are reporting a rise in overdoses related to synthetic marijuana, CNN reports. Police chiefs meeting in Washington this week said they need field tests to help them quickly determine whether suspects have taken the drug.
Calls to poison centers about synthetic marijuana shot up 330 percent from January to April of this year, according to a new government report. Synthetic marijuana, sold under names including Spice and K2, remain on the market despite repeated attempts to ban them, HealthDay reports.
Hospitals across the country have been reporting hundreds of cases of seriously ill people coming to the emergency room after using synthetic marijuana. In New York City, more than 120 cases were reported in a single week, according to NPR.
Emergency rooms in Denver, Colorado reported a surge in visits related to synthetic marijuana in the late summer and early fall, according to the Los Angeles Times. Experts say similar patterns may emerge in other parts of the country.
Large amounts of designer drugs are being imported into the United States legally, CBS News reports. While several synthetic drugs were outlawed by the federal government last year, chemists have been evading the law by continually coming up with new chemical compounds different from the ones that have been banned.
Efforts to educate members of the U.S. military about the dangers of synthetic drugs, coupled with improved drug testing, are starting to have an effect, the Navy Times reports. The Navy and Marine Corps report a drop in members using Spice and bath salts.
The number of people suspected of being sickened by synthetic marijuana in Colorado has risen to 150, NPR reports. Last week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control said they were investigating three deaths and 75 hospitalizations potentially caused by the drug.
Since local and statewide bans of synthetic drug sales in Florida have taken effect, the products are no longer easy to find in gas stations and convenience stores, according to an expert who tracks emerging psychoactive drugs. Calls to poison control centers have dropped, and fewer people are being rushed to the emergency room with side effects from the drugs.