On Monday, 09 July 2012, President Obama signed into action a bill banning 31 forms of synthetic drugs and similar future drugs that have not yet been put on the market (Haggin). The bill targets the synthetic drugs used recreationally such as bath salts, spice, K2, and many other variations. As drug companies producing these compounds continuously tweak their chemical formulation — many believe the pharmaceutical industry have had new products prepared in the event that the old ones would be made illegal—the bill also outlawed these future compounds that would have similar effects and bear only slight differences in their molecular structures.
Previously, 30 states have individually banned certain synthetic drugs or compounds of synthetic drugs, but it did little good given the continuous evolution of those types of drugs and their purchase through common interstate and internet commerce. This national ban prohibits the sale of synthetic drugs online and gives law enforcement agencies an opportunity to make headway against the synthetic drug market.
Both synthetic marijuana and bath salts come with health concerns, many of which are not associated with the drugs that they mimic. Synthetic marijuana can cause seizures, hallucinations, and tachycardia. Bath salts can cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behaviors (Office of National Drug Control Policy). One could easily write off these as rare occurrences or arguments made by the Drug War to scare us away, but in 2011 the number of emergency calls related to synthetic marijuana doubled and those related to bath salts increased 20 fold. Emergency room visits for synthetic drugs have increased an estimated tenfold and have left doctors questioning treatment for synthetic drug-induced health issues (Haggin).
As one may expect, the prevalence of use among minors has also increased. According to the Monitoring the Future survey of 2011, 11.4% of high school seniors have tried spice over the last year, making it the second most commonly used drug for high school seniors. I honestly see the draw. It is legal, often very easy to acquire, and is rarely tested for in drug tests (unless they are “sent into the lab”).
Despite the obvious benefits of synthetic drugs, back in my using days I experimented a bit and found I was drawn to the classics. I wanted a more reliable high that had been tested on generations and generations of drug addicts—people like me. Furthermore, I found that there was just something that did not feel robust about the highs. If I am going to smoke weed, I’ll get weed. If I want an upper, I’ll do cocaine. If I want to hallucinate, I’ll get some mushrooms. More hopefully, if I want relief, I will go to a 12-step meeting.
One opponent of the bill, Senator Rand Paul, argued that the bill’s harsh punishments would lead to further overcrowding of our nation’s prison systems (Haggin). Meanwhile, Minnesota Democrat Congressman Keith Ellison argued against the bill based upon his concerns for our civil-liberties (Diaz).
Diaz, Kevin. Obama approves law to ban synthetic drugs. 9 July 2012. 12 July 2012.
Haggin, Patience. Obama Signs Federal Ban on ‘Bath Salt’ Drugs. 10 July 2012. 12 July 2012.
Office of National Drug Control Policy. Synthetic Drugs (a.k.a. K2, Spice, Bath Salts, etc.). n.d. 12 July 2012.
The Partnership at Drugfree. Obama Signs Legislation Banning Synthetic Drugs. 10 July 2012. 12 July 2012.
By Emily F.
Filed under: Featured, Life · Tags: 12-step, Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Bath Salts, cocaine, Congressman Keith Ellison., drug addict, drug addiction, drug companies, drug testing, drug tests, drug war, Hallucinogens, internet commerce, interstate commerce, K2, ketamine, marijuana, mushrooms, paranoia, pharmaceutical industry, Pharmaceuticals, President Obama, Prison, prison system, Sen. Rand Paul, Spice, synthetic drug market, synthetic drugs, synthetic marijuana, tachycardia, Treatment, war on drugs, weed