The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has temporarily banned five chemicals whose effects mimic marijuana, following through on an announcement it made last November, NPR reported March 1.
NPR said over 3,000 calls were made to poison control centers “since last year” related to “fake pot.” Side effects of using the products, as reported by emergency rooms, include “anxiety attacks, elevated heart rates, vomiting, even convulsions.”
The DEA said it was outlawing the chemicals to protect public health and safety.
The chemicals are sprayed on herbs and spices and sold under names like “K2” and “Spice.” They include JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol. Although 16 states have acted to prohibit one or more of the chemicals, no concerted action had been taken before the DEA order, and they remained legal in many areas.
The chemicals are now classified as Schedule I substances, according to a March 1 DEA press release. Schedule I substances are those that have “a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use for treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.”
The ban will last for a year, but could be extended an additional six months. During that time, the agency will study the possibility of a permanent ban.
The temporary ban was first announced in November 2010. At the time, The New York Times reported that it would take at least 30 days for the ban to take effect.
The full text of the final order from the DEA was published in the Federal Register on March 1.