A new study that new variations of designer drugs are being developed faster than the government can regulate them. The rapid development of new chemical formulas is making substance abuse detection and treatment increasingly difficult.
Back in March of 2011, the DEA exercised its emergency scheduling authority to control five chemicals used to make so-called “fake pot” products. This action made possessing and selling these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the United States. The DEA said this was necessary to "prevent an imminent threat to public health and safety."
Over the past year, many new chemical compounds have been developed and are being sold in many retail outlets across the country. Pediatrician and talk show host Dr. Sue Hubbard recently wrote an article for the Chicago Tribune to warn parents about incrased use of these products by children. She says younger tweens and teens are hearing that "fake marijuana" products are safer and can't be detected if used. She warns that even if smoking or ingesting these drugs may not be illegal, it may lead to serious, and possibly life-threatening side effects.
Toxicology labs are having to update their tests to detect the new variations. State legislatures are trying to keep up with the newly developed synthetic drugs. New York just passed a bill that makes synthetics illegal and offers amnesty if residents surrender their drugs at a designated drop off point. Massachusetts currently has three bills pending related to synthetic cannabinoids.
Various “legal high” products were tested for synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants to qualitatively determine the active ingredient(s). Through our analyses of first and second generation products, it was shown that many of these banned substances are no longer used and have been replaced by other derivatives that are federally legal. Since enactment of the federal bans on synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants, 4.9% of the products analyzed at our facility contained at least one controlled substance. The remaining 95.1% of products contained only uncontrolled drugs.