Project Synergy; The fight against synthetic drugs
Police, courts, doctors, and parents are alarmed with the nationwide epidemic occurring from what are called bath salts that are especially popular among teens and young adults. What are bath salts? The appropriate term is synthetic drugs which manifest a similar feeling to that of marijuana and other chemical substances. Synthetic drugs are cheap, easily accessible, extremely dangerous, and those who use these drugs mistakenly believe they can bypass drug testing protocols. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has made the fight against synthetic drugs their priority to target and put an end to this worldwide drug craze.
The DEA began Project Synergy in December of 2012 with the goal of shutting down businesses that traffic mislabeled bath salts and herbal incense operations worldwide. Since Project Synergy began, the operation has been able to make more than 75 arrests and seized approximately $15 million in cash, as well as assets including retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers involved in selling such products.
What makes designer synthetic drugs so dangerous?
There are currently two types of synthetic drugs recognized, synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones. Synthetic cannabinoid brands, such as K2, Spice, Blaze, Red X Dawn; are sold as incense and reciprocate the high-like feeling marijuana provides. Users may suffer forms of paranoia, anxiety, irritability, vomiting, hallucinations and loss of consciousness. These so-called herbs are made from plant material combined with psychoactive ingredients substituted for THC, making them legal but not necessarily safer.
Synthetic cathinones, however, are known as stimulants or hallucinogens made to mimic more extreme drugs such as cocaine, LSD, MDMA and methamphetamines. Bath salts are the common name that categorizes synthetic cathinones and have been known to cause serious effects resulting in aggressive, unstable behavior and in some cases resulting in overdoses as well as death. Where can someone get bath salts and incense? Synthetic drugs can be purchased in retail stores, outlets, head shops and over the internet.
According to a report done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the number of department visits in 2013 increased 2.5 times more than in 2011 resulting in 28,531 cases from synthetic cannabinoids. Although synthetic drugs are not prohibited in the Controlled Substance Act (CSA); under the Controlled Analogue Enforcement Act these drugs may be treated as so if they are proven to be classified similar to illegal substances categorized as Schedule l or Schedule ll.
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