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New Legislation Bans Synthetics


In recent years drug makers have begun marketing substances that can be used like street drugs.  Bath salts, spice and K2 have been sold in gas stations and smoke shops in order to provide a legal high for their users.

Synthetic drugs work by mimicking the effects of more familiar substances.  The synthetic cannabinoids in fake pot can make a user feel like he or she has smoked weed, while the synthetic cathinones in bath salts (including Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV, and mephedrone) can replicate the high of ecstasy or speed – and until recently, users could get these effects without the complications of using an illegal drug.  In an attempt to outsmart the government and make a profit, these drug makers threw caution to the wind and chose to mass produce these mind-altering substances.

The products these companies provide sometimes have labels warning purchasers not to misuse the substance.  I recently purchased a jar of what is known as “spice” at a tobacco shop.  On the label there were disclaimers stating: “Not for human consumption” & “Do not burn.”  Not knowing the harmful side effects I purchased some from a tobacco shop.  I burned it and it produced a high similar to marijuana, just not as intense and or long-lasting.  Soon I realized that misusing a product could cause permanent damage or other serious side effects harmful to my health.

Less than two months after President Obama legislated a national ban on many synthetic drugs—including so-called synthetic marijuana and bath salts—Omega Laboratories, located in the state of Ohio, introduced a new means of testing for these substances’ presence in the bloodstream.  While this news has been hailed as an effective tool to reduce the use of synthetic drugs, the very nature of the chemicals being targeted may prove both the ban and drug-testing efforts to be futile.

The ban also covers future variants of the synthetic drugs that are molecularly similar to current synthetics.  The makers of these drugs are elusive. No one knows how many possible molecular variants there may be; however, according to the new guidelines, they will be outlawed before they are even created.

Strong evidence linking synthetic pot and bath salts to psychotic episodes, health problems, and crime has prompted a wave of bans on both the state and federal level.  But suppliers simply responded by tweaking their formulas to create substances that produced similar effects without running afoul of the law – catching officials in a messy cycle that has been referred to as a “a game of whack-a-mole.”  It remains unclear whether Omega’s new drug-testing technology will do much to change that.

Drug treatment centers have the liberty to change their policies more rapidly than government entities.  Rehab centers and sober-living houses are now able to test for these drugs.  Testing labs like Omega, who are looking to cater to their client’s needs, are now able to conduct more comprehensive screenings that can locate traces of these synthetic drugs.  According to the Rolling Stone, these new tests may not be effective.

By the time the effectiveness of the new tests is known, suppliers will have undoubtedly tweaked their formulas even more, rendering the latest drug-testing techniques a fruitless pursuit.



  1. Gwynne, Kristen. “War on Synthetic Drugs Continues With New Tests.” Rolling Stone, 30 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Aug. 2012.

By Kevin G.

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Filed under: Latest News · Tags: Bath Salts, drug testing, drug tests, Omega Laboratories, Spice, synthetic tests

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