Doctors in Philadelphia are reporting cases of heroin overdoses they suspect involve the synthetic opioid W-18. The drug, which can be added to heroin without the user’s knowledge, may be too strong for the overdose antidote naloxone to reverse, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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).
Proving synthetic drug use is the cause of traffic accidents can be difficult, experts tell The Seattle Times. Prosecutors in some cases involving traffic fatalities have ended up charging drivers with less serious crimes.
Novel psychoactive substances, also known as synthetic drugs, are notoriously difficult to legislate. It seems that as soon as a substance is scheduled as a controlled substance under state or federal law, the formula is changed and a new variety appears on the market that is technically legal, explains Heather Gray, Legislative Director of National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.
Synthetic marijuana, once sold mostly online and in convenience stores, is now largely a street drug, according to PBS NewsHour. People who use the drug tend to be poor, urban and homeless, experts say.
A new report finds the rate of prescription painkiller use among American teenagers is declining. The 2015 Monitoring the Future survey finds the rate of teen use of cigarettes, alcohol and synthetic marijuana is also decreasing, The New York Times reports.
China has banned the sale of more than 100 synthetic drugs, the Miami Herald reports. One of the drugs is flakka, a highly addictive synthetic drug that has hit Florida hard and has been spreading to other states.
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.
A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives has introduced a bill designed to combat the increasing use of synthetic drugs, according to Roll Call. The bill would add more than 200 compounds to the list of Schedule I drugs, which are likely to be abused and have no medical uses.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to create an investigative unit to go after sales of synthetic drugs. The unit should focus on websites that sell the drugs, and notify credit card companies and payment processors such as PayPal of the illegal activity, he said.
Law enforcement officials have disrupted a massive drug distribution ring involving synthetic marijuana, Time reports. The scheme allegedly involved the unlawful importation of 100 kilograms of illegal synthetic compounds, sufficient to produce about 260,000 retail drug packets worth about $30 million.