Stopping The Flow Of Dangerous Synthetic Drugs
The chemical make-up of synthetic drugs are in a continuous state of flux, means their effects aren’t predictable and correct emergency treatment can be difficult. Those in law enforcement are often handcuffed in terms of prosecution because these substances can be modified to slip through current drug laws. Now there’s a group that’s trying to tighten the net.
The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL) want to stop the proliferation of synthetic drugs, which are the second most commonly used illicit drug among young people, according to a 2012 Monitoring the Future survey. One out of every nine high school seniors reported having used synthetic drugs within the past year.
How And Why The Recipes Of Synthetic Drugs Keeps Changing
Synthetic drugs can be either man-made marijuana (cannabinoids) or chemicals related to amphetamines (cathinones). The synthetic marijuana, often sold under the names K2 or Spice, are plant materials resembling potpourri that are sprayed with chemicals that mimic THC, the psychoactive agent in marijuana. But the recipe keeps changing in order to evade prosecution.
In 2012 the federal government made synthetic drugs, also known as novel psychoactive drugs, illegal. But the law defines the drugs narrowly. Once those who make the drugs tweak the recipe, the new compound no longer fits within the narrow definition of synthetic drugs. To further complicate the matter, the substances are often sold as bath salts, incense or plant food with a label saying they’re not intended for human consumption.
How The Spread Of Synthetic Drugs Is Trying To Be Halted
What NAMSDL wants to do is work with state lawmakers to make classes of substances illegal, rather than specific chemical combinations. The laws could give examples of what some of those substances might look like, but would leave room so that potential new chemical compounds would be illegal. That would certainly speed things up for law enforcement that now must often wait a year and a half before each new synthetic drug compound is banned.
NAMSDL also wants to enhance communication between those who see the changing drug landscape firsthand. The Drug Enforcement Agency currently collects and disseminates drug information to concerned parties, but it’s hospital emergency rooms, poison control centers and law enforcement that sees what’s going on in real time. This would help keep the information on synthetic substances truly up-to-date
Synthetic Drug Education And Prevention
NAMSDL is working directly with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and others to create an effective education and prevention campaign aimed at informing moms, dads, emergency room staff and school administrators about what these drugs are and what they do. Education, information flow and improved legislation represent a 360 degree effort on closing the gaps and halting the flow of these dangerous drugs.