What do you think of the new incenseherbalreviews website design?


NEW LOOK – Responsive Design – Fun! Let us know your thoughts!
Incenseherbalreviews made some pretty radical changes to the website for a more interactive design for its customers. Fish – you say? Well that’s just the start of it, the completely new designed website offers companies a chance to advertise there product or services on the site to.

It has been a long road and many long nights to get our site where it is at today. The first 9 months were hitting the ground running to get the readership and fan base of the site. When the site first started we never thought that we would have over 100,000 unique visitors per month and have such a great turn out. But though the hard work of seo, marketing, backlinks and social media we exceeded our goals.

But lets not forget that we could have never reached this goal with out the fans.

Thanks for telling all your friends about our site and we want to hear from you about our new design. We completely understand that not everyone will be happy with the new look. Let’s face it there is not any single design that everyone will love. But as long as we hit a home run with most of our fans then – well we hit the ball out of the park.

We are excited to offer our readers a new channel of companies that can offer them herbal incense products. We are working with several new companies and hope to push them live on the site soon so that our fans know where to order the strongest, best priced, with fastest shipping incense on the planet. Drop us a comment and let us know what you think about the new look!

Thanks for stopping by incenseherbalreviews today. We hope to see you again tomorrow!

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Attention All Readers – You Must Know


All yellow Porsche 997 Turbo

First i would like to thank each and every reader that has made our blog one of the largest if not the largest for herbal incense and bath salt reviews and news. I have had so many emails these past 2 months asking me if you can buy herbal incense products from me. I just dont have time to email every request back that i get and i never want a reader to think that we are not interacting with you.

Here is the facts, we do not in any way shape or form sell herbal incense products. We are simply a resource for information in the herbal incense spice world. We enjoy giving readers information about the herbal incense spice busts and the incense industy reviews on herbal products. I know that the DEA and law enforcement has cracked down hard on several business across the USA over the past 2 months and now herbal incense is much harder to find.

I know this because everyday i get all the news and busts from our large database of resources and news streams. But i want to make it very clear we are only a resource for learning everything there is to know about herbal incense and news. We do not sell, stock, or tell clients where to buy herbal products or bath salts. If a client sends us a sample of there herbal incense products and its a legal product, we will review that product and write a post to edcuate the public on what we feel about that product. Keep in mind everyone has a different opion about herbal products and everything in life.

Here is an example, i have a freind of mine that bought a brand new porsche and its an amazing car. But that car is bright yellow and to me its screams UGLY. Now everyone else might just love yellow porsches, but i cant stand yellow cars. Now if i was to write a review about that bright yellow car i would say what a nice ride but bad choice in the cars color. Lets say i posted a pic it here

Now how many of you think this yellow porsche 997 turbo is amazing? Well when i look at it i just see a yellow BEE.

So my point is that everyone does not agree on everything. Many times when i post about a herbal incense i have tried i do my best to insure that i let people know just how strong there herbal spice is. Well to me – a daily smoker, its not as strong as someone that might only smoke once a month. Thats why i do my best to be honest so that my readers know what there getting before they get it. But thats only my opion. If i here of any great websites selling wholesale herbal incense i will make a post and update you and try to do a mass email on all the requests that i get for it.

But honstly i dont like to tell people where to buy any products, just give you a review of what i tried what my personal opion is of that product and where i got it from.
Hope this helps and as always thanks for all the support from our readers. It really is awesome. We have over 300,000 visits per week and thats truly amazing!

Health Department regulation will make it a violation to buy, sell or possess synthetic drugs like bath salts and fake marijuana


ALBANY — State and local law enforcement would have new power to fight the growing problem of designer drugs and fake pot under a new regulation set to be announced by Gov. Cuomo.
The Health Department regulation, to be unveiled Tuesday, will make it a violation to sell, distribute, or possess synthetic drugs like bath salts and fake pot.
Violators could face up to 15 days in jail, a small fine, or even have their businesses shut down.
“It gives law enforcement a nimble, flexible tool they can take immediate action on,” a Cuomo aide said.
The state will also create a hotline for parents and others to report stores selling the illegal products. And the Health Department will spearhead a web campaign to educate the public about the deadly drugs.
The actions come a month after President Obama signed a law to ban designer drugs and fake pot.
The Cuomo administration order doesn’t hold nearly the same power as the federal law, which carries penalties of up to 20 years in prison — or more if someone dies or is seriously hurt. The federal law also carries fines of up to $5 million for first-time offenders.
Cuomo aides say the state action is similar to going after low-level drug dealers while the feds focus on the kingpins.
“The feds are going to go after the big fish, but it’s not the big fish that are necessarily the problem,” one aide said. “It’s the bodega on the corner. And a U.S. attorney is not going to go after a bodega on the corner.”
The regulation builds on an order Cuomo’s Health Department issued last year banning the sale of the synthetic drugs and allowing for the shutdown of businesses that ignored it.
That order followed an exclusive Daily News investigation revealing the deadly dangers of the designer drug.
But manufacturers responded by simply tweaking the chemical compounds to stay ahead of the authorities.
The new regulation outlaws dozens more chemicals than the previous one and, for the first time, makes it a violation that allows local law enforcement to get involved.
Also, unlike the federal law, someone simply possessing a synthetic drug without the intent to sell it can be charged, a Cuomo aide said.
Synthetic drugs are marketed as imitating the effects of pot, cocaine and LSD. They are often masked as everyday household items like bath salts or potpourri.
But they can cause hallucinations, seizures and suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
Emergency room visits and state Poison Control calls linked to the deadly drugs have been on the rise since 2011, the state Health Department reported.
Sen. Charles Schumer, who sponsored the federal law, called the Cuomo action “another tool at our disposal.”

Pinellas officials considering banning bath salts and some incenses


In their latest salvo in the on-going struggle against synthetic marijuana, Pinellas County officials are seeking to ban the sale of bath salts and certain herbal incense products.

The proposed ordinance is an attempt to close the loophole created when Florida banned more than 90 chemicals used in synthetic marijuana. County officials said that by the time those products were off the shelves, drugmakers had already adapted by concocting new, legal cocktails that are as dangerous as their predecessors.

“What we want to do is make sure that we took the opportunity to close those gaps to ensure those things don’t come growing back,” said Tim Burns, the county’s director of Justice and Consumer Services.

In addition to banning synthetic marijuana, bath salts and kratom — a lesser-known substance that comes from a tropical plant — the ordinance would establish a five-person committee responsible for reviewing new products and possibly banning those as well.

Today, the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners will vote on whether to hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations.

Leo Calzadilla, who owns three tobacco shops in Pinellas County and is planning to open a fourth, said he would protest the ordinance. When state law banned a variety of products, he changed what he sold, he said. But the race to pass new ordinances and outfox manufacturers seems pointless to him, as well as bad for business.

“Herbal incense is sold as herbal incense,” he said. “That’s what it’s intended for. … What people do with it is their prerogative.”

Many of the synthetic marijuana products are labeled “not for consumption,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, adding that this was “intellectually dishonest.”

Manufacturers know that teenagers buy their products intending to smoke or ingest them, he said. The drugs can cause extreme euphoria, as well as hallucinations and seizures. And there have been several high-profile instances in which teenagers died or were injured while under the influence of those substances.

Gualtieri said he is distributing letters to store owners, asking them to voluntarily drop the synthetic drugs from their inventories.

Randy Heine, owner of Rockin Cards & Gifts, a tobacco shop in Pinellas Park, said he would not object to banning synthetic marijuana, though this should be done at a state level, he said. But kratom is another matter.

Heine sells kratom leaves for smoking, kratom powder for making tea, and kratomite, a liquid concoction he described as a “relaxer.”

“I’ve been selling it steadily for 30 years without a problem, zero, nada, nothing,” he said. “There’s minimal reports of problems, compared to coffee, aspirin, cigarettes, and nobody has died of this; it’s just hysteria.”

“I’ve got to confess I don’t even know what it is,” Gualtieri said. “It’s not on my radar.”

But Burns maintained that kratom is an emerging product, one that might not be well-known to law enforcement officials now, but is poised to replace the synthetic drugs the county is hoping to banish.

The county’s proposed ordinance cites Thailand’s decision to outlaw kratom, as well as the substance’s inclusion on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of drugs and chemicals of concern as reason for banning it in Pinellas.

County officials also have proposed new regulations that would require stores selling glass pipes and bongs to post large warning signs on the front of their buildings.

DEA raids smoke shops in Las Cruces, Sunland Park, Alamogordo


LAS CRUCES — Federal and local law enforcement officers raided several smoke shops Wednesday in Las Cruces, as well as one business in Sunland Park, as part of a nationwide investigation into the alleged production and distribution of synthetic drugs.

Masked agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, assisted by LCPD officers, were seen removing several large boxes of evidence from at least three retail locations near the intersection of South Solano Drive and East Idaho Avenue.

Federal agents also raided the Station Recreation smoke shop on 1621 Appaloosa in Sunland Park. DEA officials did not say Wednesday if any raids in southern New Mexico resulted in arrests.

An affidavit filed in support of the search warrants in the U.S. District Court for New Mexico indicates that 14 businesses in Las Cruces, Sunland Park and Alamogordo were targeted for allegedly selling illegal synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as Spice, and synthetic cathinones, more popularly known as “bath salts.”

Two smoke shops in Silver City, Twisted Illusions and The Smoke Shop, were not raided and neither sells Spice, workers said.

In January, the DEA, joined by other federal and local law enforcement agencies, began investigating the smoke shops, often sending undercover agents to purchase suspected synthetic drugs, according to court documents.

“Each undercover operation has resulted in the seizure of individual-used sized containers containing a plant material that is believed to

have been treated with chemicals or a powdery-like substance,” DEA agent Jeffery S. Castillo wrote in his affidavit.

The raids in southern New Mexico appeared to be part of a coordinated nationwide investigation as the DEA on Wednesday also raided businesses in El Paso, Albuquerque, as well as locations in California, Utah, New York and New Hampshire, according to published reports.

“DEA agents are conducting numerous enforcement operations throughout the region … This is part of a bigger operation,” said Carmen Coutino, a spokeswoman for the DEA office in El Paso.

The search warrant for the businesses in southern New Mexico, signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Carmen E. Garza, authorized agents to seize written and electronic documents, financial records, suspected synthetic drugs and paraphernalia, as well as security camera recordings.

Witnesses at Somewhere Else Comics Games, one of 10 businesses in Las Cruces targeted by the DEA, said Wednesday that police officers entered the business with guns drawn, announcing they were raiding the establishment.

“They pat-frisked me and my son. It was very scary for us,” said one woman who declined to give her name. She and her 13-year-old son sat inside a vehicle outside the store at 1230 S. Solano Drive.

Authorities also raided Phat Glass, located next door to Somewhere Else Comics and Games, and Smokin Supply, less than a quarter-mile away at 1315 S. Solano Drive.

“They came in, guns drawn, told me to put my hands up and handcuffed me,” said Maurice Portillo, co-owner of Smokin Supply, who was not arrested and subsequently released.

Portillo said the DEA agents “tore” through his shop, turning around security cameras and taking cell phones, business records, as well as glass containers and herbal incense products that are often described as synthetic marijuana because of their chemical composition.

Portillo, a 29-year-old U.S. Army veteran and student at New Mexico State University, said he believed the products he sold were legal, noting that he bought them from a distributor who also provided literature vouching for their legality with DEA drug scheduling provisions.

“I don’t do any illegal business out here. There’s no history of anything illegal here,” said Portillo, who opened his business about six weeks ago. Portillo said the DEA agents did not tell him what they were looking for, and made several references to the operation being “Obama (expletive).”

“I was like, ‘This is just (expletive) politics …,'” Portillo said.

On July 9, President Barack Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, which instituted tougher criminal penalties for selling some first-generation synthetic drugs — such as K2 and Spice — as well as some newer ones.

In March 2011, the DEA “emergency scheduled” several chemicals often found in herbal incense products that make them chemically similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

However, Castillo wrote in his affidavit that “clandestine manufacturers and traffickers” began distributing smokable cannabinoid products in an attempt to circumvent newly enacted federal and state laws.

Castillo said the criminal offenses possibly committed by the investigation’s targets include possession with intent to distribute analogs of a controlled substance, and selling drug paraphernalia.

Portillo, whose store also sells health items, regular tobacco products, cell phones, vaporizers and storage containers, said he never believed he was selling anything illegal and added that he cooperated with authorities. He also said the raid will only temporarily hurt his business.

“We’ll be all right. We’ll be back,” he said.

Brian Fraga can be reached at (575) 541-5462; Follow him on Twitter @bfraga

 

Closer look

The Drug Enforcement Administration, investigating the alleged production and distribution of synthetic drugs, obtained search warrants for the following businesses in southern New Mexico:

— Phat Glass, 1211 East Idaho, Las Cruces

— Phat Glass South, 306 Union, Las Cruces

— Phat Glass Too, 109 North New York, Alamogordo

— Phat Glass 3, 823 North New York, Alamogordo

— Sam’s Gift Shop and Smoking Accessories, 607-C South White Sands Boulevard, Alamogordo

— Neverwhere, 940 North Main, Las Cruces

— Somewhere Else Comic Books and Games, 1230 South Solano, Las Cruces

— Zia Tattoo, 1300 El Paseo, Las Cruces

— Station Recreation, 1621 Appaloosa, Sunland Park

— The Realm Hookah Lounge, 991 West Picacho, Las Cruces

— Smokin Supply, 1315 South Solano, Las Cruces

— Hookah Outlet, 1900 South Espina, Las Cruces

— Subherbia, 1200 East Madrid, Las Cruces

— Subherbia 2, 150 South Solano, Las Cruces
1:27 p.m.

LAS CRUCES — Federal and local law enforcement officers raided at least three Las Cruces smoke shops today as part of a wider investigation into synthetic drugs.

Masked agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, assisted by LCPD officers, are still on-scene at Phat Glass, 1211 East Idaho Ave., Smokin Supply, 1315 South Solano Drive, and Somewhere Else Comics and Games, 1230 South Solano Drive.

Police entered the comic store/smoke shop this morning with guns drawn and announced that they were raiding the business, said two witnesses who were inside the store.

Witnesses said the agents were “looking through everything” in the store, checking counters, receipts, and pat-frisking everybody inside the business and asking for their identifications.

Federal agents were also seen bringing evidence bags inside the stores.

DEA spokesman Carmen Coutino confirmed that the investigation was related to synthetic drugs. DEA agents in New Mexico and Texas have raided other smoke shops looking to confiscate synthetic marijuana, commonly known as SPICE, according to multiple media reports.

Coutino said more information will be released later today, adding: “DEA agents are conducting numerous enforcement operations throughout the region. This is part of a bigger operation.”

12:16 p.m.

LAS CRUCES — Shops near the corner of Solano Drive and Idaho Avenue may be part of a federal raid by agents looking to confiscate the synthetic drug Spice.

According to Sun-News reporter Brian Fraga, the Las Cruces Police Department is assisting the Drug Enforcement Agency in an investigation Wednesday at Phat Glass, 1211 E. Idaho Ave., Smokin’ Supply, 1315 S. Solano Drive, and Somewhere Else Comics and Games, 1230 S. Solano Drive.

 

Police entered the comic store/smoke shop this morning with guns drawn and announced they were raiding the business, two witnesses on scene said.

DEA agents are raiding locations across New Mexico, according to multiple media sources.

DEA agents raided at least one location in Sunland Park and KOB.com is reporting DEA raided 16 locations in Albuquerque today.

A spokeswoman for the agency told KFOX14 that they are looking to confiscate Spice.

Spice refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana and that are marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Synthetic marijuana was banned in New Mexico in April 2011.

Teen’s drug reaction points to K2, bath salts


SALEM, N.H. — Less than 48 hours after federal agents and local police raided a store for synthetic drugs, a local teenager apparently had a bad reaction after using them.

Police were called to a home on S. Policy Street late Thursday night after a caller reported a 17-year-old male was “flipping out.”

When police arrived, the teenager was “shirtless, lethargic and sweating heavily,” according to police reports.

“He appeared to be heavily impaired,” the report said.

Both the teen and his mother told police he had been smoking K2 and Crazy Monkey bath salts, according to police documents.

K2 is a brand name for synthetic marijuana. Those products were targets of a nationwide Drug Enforcement Administration effort Wednesday to shut down retail stores and manufacturing sites, and significantly cut down the availability of synthetic designer drugs.

Can You Dig It at 101 Main St. was one of four sites raided in New England, one of three in New Hampshire.

The pawn shop/tattoo parlor, which also sells “decorative” swords, pepper spray, adult novelties and clothing, pipes, rolling papers, DVDs and more, was swarmed by DEA agents, Salem and North Andover police Wednesday morning.

Some 76 cardboard boxes, marked as DEA evidence, were removed from the store Wednesday, filling two pickup trucks and a large SUV. No arrests have been made locally in connection with the sweep, dubbed Operation Log Jam, but local officials have said they expect that to happen at some point.

It’s the DEA’s show and, short of a press conference and news release Thursday, there hasn’t been a lot of specific information released. Repeated phone calls to the Boston DEA office have not been returned.

No one has said what kind of material was taken from the store during the execution of a federal search warrant. While local police were helping at the scene, it is in federal hands.

But Salem police will continue to monitor and investigate any activity around synthetic drugs, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said yesterday.

“Frankly, after the raids and working with the DEA, the officers found it ironic we would have an overdose of this type right after we had conducted that raid in close proximity,” he said yesterday.

The teen has not been charged and police can’t be sure he had taken K2 or bath salts, Patten said, but it seemed feasible.

“It’s consistent with use of those types of synthetic drugs,” he said.

The teenager was evaluated by Salem fire personnel and transported to Holy Family Hospital in Methuen.

He wouldn’t tell police where he got the drugs and said he was smoking alone, according to police reports.

Salem detectives spent some time Thursday visiting other stores in town that were suspected of or known to sell synthetic drugs, Patten said.

“Our detectives went around to all the other stores and advised them the stuff on the shelves was illegal and they looking for voluntary compliance before taking action,” he said. “All the stores we visited had already removed it from their shelves prior to our arrival.”

While Patten said police are happy with the level of voluntary compliance, they will continue to monitor activity and urge anyone who sees the products for sale to notify police.

He said police had been monitoring all the stores where they knew synthetic marijuana or bath salts were being sold, but the volume of activity and the inventory at Can You Dig It was much greater than at any other local business.

The store owner, Judith Tridenti of North Andover, has denied any illegal activity, according to her lawyer.

“There were several specific overdoses and issues that came out of that specific store,” Patten said. “We have had all the stores selling this merchandise under investigation. Can You Dig It was a larger supplier and was brought to the attention of federal investigators. They chose to include that store as part of the federal raid.”

If any store that has removed the items from its shelves starts selling them again, he said, charges would be forthcoming.

“One store owner told us the markup is enormous,” Patten said.

“He would buy it for $2 a pack and sell it for $20.” Several store owners told detectives they were unaware the products were illegal.

“I really believe the goal of the DEA was to shut off supply lines coming into the country, making it unavailable for sale in the U.S.,” Patten said.

“For us in Salem specifically, hopefully, it makes it more difficult for people to get, and easier for us to monitor and enforce.”

 

Scooby Snax Herbal Incense Review


When the Fun Loving Criminals were “Running around robbing banks all wacked off of Scooby Snacks”, I do not think they were thinking of this happy little blend from someincense.com! Scooby Snax rather should be conjuring up images of food piled high, sharing it with your best bud while trying to avoid as much work as possible! I once tried this product that must have been a bad batch because it ended up leaving an aftertaste of fish behind that was foul. In the interest of science however, I am always willing to try something again, with the optimism that I will be proven wrong. WHEW! I am glad I did… the pre-burnt aroma is fruity, fun- matches the colorful tie-dyed package with Scooby on the front. The herbal blend is fluffy and light, and compacts well into the burner. The blend itself has a few sticks in it, but nothing that would ruin your day.
When lit, the herbal blend gives off copious amounts of thick smoke that is very pleasant and long-lasting. Not harsh at all, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how long each light lasts you- upwards of 20 minutes per light. Beginner to expert incense burners will not be disappointed in this one! There’s no mystery as to why Scooby has that look on his face- this is a fun herbal blend that goes well with music, friends, or just enjoying the little things in life around you.  Any  incense enthusiast could not go wrong adding this to their collection of daily blends. Since the herbal blend they are using seems so fluffy and light, it is an extremely versatile blend for all types of incense burners!

Synthetic drugs spreading rapidly across North Dakota


The first person who caught my eye when I entered Discontent skateboarding shop was a young boy, not more than 12 years old, standing on a wooden platform with an unstrapped helmet covering most of his dark, shaggy hair and a skateboard resting vertically at his side. Nearby, three teenagers with looks of extreme indifference on their faces fingered through CDs stacked on a small rack next to a skateboarding ramp. Then I noticed two women lingering near the back of the store with their hands in their jacket pockets waiting for a chance to get high.

The women, both appearing to be in their mid-30s, didn’t have to wait long. Within a few minutes, a man working behind the counter stepped away from the cash register and led them to a doorway with a chain hanging from one side to the other. He unhinged the chain, asked for their IDs and led them into a back room lined with mostly empty glass display cases.

(Photo by Matt Bunk) Herbal incense such as White Rabbit and New Dimension can be purchased in Bismarck, despite warnings by medical professionals and law enforcement leaders who say the effects of ingesting the chemicals on synthetic drugs can cause health problems and even death.

The women obviously knew what they wanted. They walked past two display cases, barely noticing the contents: a meager assortment of blown-glass pipes and small, metal objects shaped like cigarettes. Instead, they stopped in front of a case that contained several colorful packages labeled “New Dimension” and “White Rabbit.”

“One gram of the New Dimension,” one of the women said without looking up.

“That’s 20 bucks,” the employee said. “Or you can get three grams for $50.”

The woman shook her head, still looking down at the display case, before following the man to the counter to pay.

After the transaction, I followed the women out of the back room, past several racks holding an assortment of t-shirts, shoes and skateboards and, finally, past the young boy who was skidding down the skateboarding ramp to our left. When the door closed behind us, the women scurried along the sidewalk until they reached a car parked on the corner of Main Avenue an Fifth Street. Before they got in, I introduced myself and asked the woman what they bought.

“Herbal incense,” she said.

OK, but why would anyone pay $20 for a gram of incense?

“It gets you high,” she said. “And it’s not illegal.”

The New World of Synthetic Drugs

The synthetic drug market has exploded during the past four years, leading to many different chemical compounds and product names such as K2, Bliss, Tranquility, Spice, Wet and Wild and Eight Ballz. These new drugs are often sold as innocuous products such as herbal incense and bath salts and packaged with a label that warns against human consumption, but if ingested they mimic the effects of marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine and other controlled substances.

The packaging is also deceptive. Many of the products come in brightly colored wrappers that appear harmless.

“The packaging almost looks like candy wrappers,” said Hope Olson, director of the North Dakota Crime Lab. “It looks like something for kids.”

Merchants sell synthetic drugs online, and they can be found on the shelves of smoke shops, record stores and other retail establishments. Rogue chemists manufacture them in basements and warehouses across the U.S. and abroad. And for several years, the industry was allowed to grow without interference from law enforcement.

But using these new synthetic drugs has proven dangerous and potentially lethal, and state and federal lawmakers are scrambling to enact new laws to ban the chemicals used to manufacture them.

News reports from across the country tell horrific stories: In Mississippi, it took six men to restrain a man high on bath salts who had shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy; an 18-year-old Michigan resident was found dead along the shore of Wing Lake after smoking herbal incense; and two teenagers died and several more were hospitalized after a house party in Oklahoma where they ingested a synthetic drug that was purchased on the Internet.

The mayhem is spreading across North Dakota as well, according to medical professionals and law enforcement leaders.

Statistics compiled by the state Attorney General’s Office show the use of synthetic drugs has increased rapidly during the past two years. In 2010, for instance, law enforcement officers submitted 216 samples of synthetic cannabinoids (herbal incense) and synthetic cathinones (bath salts) to the state crime lab for analysis. A year later, that number had grown to 1,225 samples, outpacing the number of methamphetamine samples and second only to the number of marijuana samples.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said those numbers indicate a “brand new wave” of synthetic drugs are hitting the streets. “Law enforcement and the medical community are scrambling to get ahead of the curve on this,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous trend.”

A Looming Public Health Crisis

Doctors across North Dakota said they’ve treated patients with symptoms including extreme nausea, hallucinations, voices in their heads and seizures as a result of using synthetic drugs. One patient “sloughed off” an arm after injecting a synthetic drug, and another patient who smoked herbal incense stopped breathing and had to be kept on a respirator until the drug burned out of his system.

Rob Howard, a doctor in Williston who owns Advanced Drug Testing Inc., said synthetic drugs represent a looming public health crisis because there is no legitimate way to research the long-term effects of human consumption. Even the short-term effects are too dangerous for reputable scientists to conduct human studies, he said.

“One of side effects is chemically induced psychosis,” he said. “In other words, people start hearing things and seeing things that aren’t there. One individual we were testing was in here, and I asked him if they had stopped yet, and he said ‘Have what stopped?’ And I said ‘The voices.’ And his head snapped up and said ‘How did you know?’ This was about three weeks after he stopped using.”

Dr. Paul Grooms, who works in the emergency room at Medcenter One, said synthetic drugs such as herbal incense and bath salts are extremely dangerous because they usually contain a cocktail of different chemicals that could include anything from rat poison to fertilizer. He said cases involving synthetic drug use are difficult to treat because there are so many different chemical compounds used to manufacture them and patients usually have no idea what they ingested.

“Even very small amounts can have adverse effects,” Grooms said. “There’s no antidote for these things because so little is known about them. All we can do is treat the symptoms.”

In some cases, it’s too late for doctors to do anything. Last month, two teenagers from the Grand Forks area died after taking synthetic drugs. Seventeen-year old Elijah Stai of Park Rapids, Minn., and 18-year old Christian Bjerk of Grand Forks died within days of each other after taking a synthetic hallucinogen in the form of a white powder.

Federal and state law enforcement agencies launched an investigation into the deaths of the two teenagers and, within days, issued a warning to the public that noted “there may be a large quantity of lethal synthetic drugs on the street right now in the North Dakota/Minnesota market.”

So far, two men have been charged with crimes in connection with the distribution of the synthetic drugs that killed the teenagers.

Staying Ahead of Law Enforcement

The proliferation of synthetic drugs has confounded law enforcement agencies and policymakers ever since the first marijuana imitations reached the market about five years ago. So far, the industry has managed to stay one step ahead of each new law intended to stop it from spreading.

State legislatures in more than 40 states have passed various laws to ban the sale and possession of the chemical compounds used to make the new drugs, and Congress recently outlawed 26 chemicals known to be used for manufacturing K2 and Spice. But each time a law is passed, the synthetic drug industry develops a new formula and releases the product on the streets.

“The law enforcement community is constrained by statute. The law has to prescribe what is prohibited,” Stenehjem said. “And the big problem for us is that there are any number of bathroom chemists out there who are tweaking the chemicals to come up with a different substance. These are people who just throw stuff together and sell it to people. These drugs aren’t manufactured in controlled settings.”

The North Dakota Legislature originally attacked the problem by banning the chemical compounds used to make specific types of synthetic drugs. But the industry was able to stay one step ahead by making slight molecular changes to the products. So, state lawmakers tried a different approach last year by banning the core structure of the chemicals so that any offshoots, or “chemical cousins,” would also be illegal.

But the problem is far from solved, said Charlene Schweitzer, a forensic scientist at the North Dakota Crime Lab.

“We defined the core structure of these groups and, if you look at the statute, basically made hundreds of compounds illegal,” she said. “But now the problem is there are new groups of compounds that we have yet to define. The chemistry changes so fast with these things. Every week, we’re seeing a new compound.”

Howard, the doctor in Williston, said his drug-testing company recently spent about $300,000 on equipment that can be adjusted to detect new chemical compounds that hit the market. But detecting synthetic drugs and stopping them from reaching the public are two completely different challenges, he said.

“By changing the molecular structure in just one position on the chain, you can come up with 10,000 different chemicals that have the same active backbone. And if you change two or more positions, you could create millions of different chemicals,” he said. “That’s what’s going to make this so difficult.”

-Matt Bunk is publisher of the Great Plains Examiner.


Montco D.A. talks about crackdown on sales of synthetic drugs


NORRISTOWN – On the street, it goes by the nicknames “K2,” “K3,” “Kush,” “Spice,” “Dead Man,” “Power Diesel” and some even call it “herbal incense,” according to authorities.

But while some might regard so-called synthetic marijuana as a safe alternative to other controlled substances, law enforcement authorities say it is dangerous and illegal.

“Synthetic simply means man-made, they’re not organic. While these drugs have been labeled by some as synthetic, they are just as dangerous and toxic and illegal as other controlled substances,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman warned this week.

Because drugs like K2 are labeled on the street as “synthetic, people think they “are fake and not real” and not dangerous, Ferman maintained.

 

“Let me tell you nothing can be further from the truth,” Ferman said. “These chemical compounds are just as dangerous, sometimes more dangerous, than some of the drugs we are accustomed to hearing about and seeing on our streets.”

In the wake of the arrests this week of a Pottstown man, who allegedly was driving high on K2 at the time of a May 21 double-fatal crash, and of a store owner and clerk, who allegedly sold the K2 to those involved in the crash, Ferman spoke about the dangers of the so-called synthetic drugs and about the relatively new laws that criminalize the behavior.

“K2 might look like something from a candy store, but it is illegal,” said Ferman, pointing to the colorful 30 vials of K2 that allegedly were seized from the Achi Store in Pottstown during the recent investigation.

K2 is a generic name for any number of substances known as synthetic marijuana. Authorities explained users take something considered harmless like an herb and spray a chemical compound on it to create K2. When smoked, authorities alleged, the substances replicate the high acquired from marijuana, even though they do not contain THC, marijuana’s active chemical.

“Reports from emergency rooms and poison centers have indicated that K2 can also produce effects not seen with marijuana use. The most serious of these side effects are panic, rapid heart rate and anxiety that results in suicidal episodes,” Ferman said. “We see paranoia, we see hallucinations and we see anxiety. We see all sorts of adverse reactions that cause people significant damage.”

Highlighting the dangerous nature of the drug, Ferman recalled a June 15, 2011, incident during which a 16-year-old Abington area boy leaped off of the third story of a four-story parking garage at the Willow Grove Park mall.

 

“We found through that investigation that he was under the influence, at the time, of K2,” Ferman said.

At the time of the incident, the sale of K2 was not illegal.

But under a relatively new law, commonly known as “bath salts legislation,” that was enacted Aug. 22, 2011, K2 is now considered a Schedule I synthetic cannabinoid, which is believed to mimic the effects of cannabis. A Schedule I drug is one that currently has no legitimate medical purpose under Pennsylvania law and has a high potential for abuse.

“What it did was criminalize what had come to be known as synthetic drugs, synthetic marijuana and bath salts,” Ferman explained about the legislation she supported. “The reason that the bill passed through the legislature is that over the preceding year we were inundated in law enforcement with incidents of violence and other disturbing acts by people who were under the influence of substances just like this.”

“So it was a response to what we were seeing on the street, a response to the substances coming into our community, being sold in convenience stores, in drug stores and gas stations, places like that,” Ferman recalled.

While many states are individually addressing the issue, the federal government also has responded by making such substances illegal.

Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams announced last year that law enforcement officers throughout the state of Pennsylvania would be enforcing the new law banning production, use and possession of dangerous bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Detectives and state police have been actively identifying and purchasing these substances from Berks retailers throughout the county since that time.

While prior to 2010 there was little known use or sale of K2 in Montgomery County, Ferman indicated over the last two years “there really has been an explosion” of young people involved in some “violent and disturbing incidents while they’re under the influence of these synthetic drugs.”

“It is primarily teenagers and young adults who are using these substances. We’re not seeing a great many stories about middle-aged, older folks, who are going out there and buying K2 or bath salts. We’re seeing a lot of kids who are using it because they believe, falsely, that it’s not dangerous and they believe it’s not illegal.”

“I think the message needs to go out there to young people that these substances can be just as toxic, just as dangerous and get you in as much trouble as the other substances that you would typically think of as being illegal,” Ferman said.

 

Possessing K2 for personal use is a misdemeanor while possessing K2 with the intent to distribute it is a felony, under the law.

Possessing 2-10 grams of K2 with intent to distribute carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence for a first time conviction. Possessing 10-100 grams of K2 with intent to distribute can carry a mandatory three-year prison term, while possessing more than 100 grams can carry a mandatory five-year prison sentence.

Sale of K2 to a minor carries a possible one year mandatory minimum prison sentence and the sale of it in a school zone can get an offender a two-year mandatory sentence, according to the law.

“Having a gun with these drugs carries with it a five-year mandatory minimum,” Ferman warned.

Ferman characterized those who sell the substances as being “no better than the street corner or school yard dealers.” She warned all store owners that authorities will prosecute them if investigations determine they are selling the substances.

“The substance, I’ve been told, originated in the Middle East and it’s something that started overseas, became popular in Europe and then came to this country a few years ago,” Ferman explained.

Court documents alleged that K2 was sold at the Achi Store in Pottstown for about $6 a container.

“You’re talking about not many dollars,” said Ferman, adding part of the appeal to users is that it is considered cheap. “Part of the appeal is that it’s been labeled as synthetic, so it makes kids think that it’s not illegal and that it’s not dangerous.”

Another part of the appeal is that those who want it believe they don’t have to turn to a so-called drug dealer on the street to get it but can walk into some convenience store and purchase it, authorities said.

When the law went into effect last year, Ferman said authorities set out to educate the public.

 

“We talked about the danger of these substances. We talked about the fact we were going to enforce the law and that we wanted store owners, shop owners, to know that they had an opportunity to get rid of these substances but we were going to enforce the law. Unfortunately, very tragically, we’re here enforcing the law in a case where there were some horrific consequences,” said Ferman, referring to the Pottstown double-fatal crash.

Roger Tracy Malloy, 27, of Pottstown, faces charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of a controlled substance in connection with the 11:30 p.m. May 21 crash on State Street that claimed the lives of James N. Crawford, 28, of Pottstown, and Rachael Witt, 15, a ninth-grade student at Pottstown High School, passengers in the gold Lincoln Continental allegedly operated by Malloy.

The brand of K2 that Malloy allegedly smoked before the crash was called “Dead Man.”

Authorities also filed drug delivery-related charges against Rafie L. Ali, 34, of Pottstown, the alleged operator of the Achi Store, and Mohamed Himed, 25, of New York, a store clerk.

The arrests mark the first time that a store owner has been charged in Montgomery County with selling K2, under the new state law.

New Tests for Dangerous ‘Legal Marijuana,’ ‘Bath Salts’ and Other Emerging Designer Drugs


Scientists report the development of much needed new tests to help cope with a wave of deaths, emergency room visits and other problems from a new genre of dangerous designer drugs sold legally in stores and online that mimic the effects of cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.

They spoke at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), being held in Denver.

The reports, among more than 7,500 on the ACS agenda, focus on drugs sold as “bath salts,” “plant food,” “incense” and other products with colorful names, such as “Ivory Wave,” “Red Dove” and “legal marijuana.” They provide users with a high, but many have not yet been made illegal and are undetectable with current drug tests. In one presentation on these “legal highs,” a United Kingdom researcher reported a new method to trace the source of the substances in “bath salts.” In the other, a U.S. researcher discussed the challenges facing law enforcement and policy makers in regulating synthetic versions of marijuana.

Oliver Sutcliffe, Ph.D., and his collaborators reported the successful use of a method called isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) to determine who is making bath salts — drugs that can cause euphoria, paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations when snorted, smoked or injected — and which chemical companies supplied the raw materials. He and his co-workers are based at the University of Strathclyde and the James Hutton Institute in the U.K.

“With the new method, we could work backwards and trace the substances back to the starting materials,” said Sutcliffe. IRMS measures the relative amounts of an element’s different forms, or isotopic ratio. “This method was successful because the isotopic ratio of the starting material is transferred like a fingerprint through the synthesis,” he explained.

“Bath salts” first garnered major media attention in the U.K. in early 2010, and then became a problem in the U.S. These products are not in the supermarket soap aisle — they are sold on the Internet, on the street and in stores that sell drug paraphernalia. They are sold in small individual bags for as low as $20 each for the real purpose of providing a cheap, legal high.

The powders often contain mephedrone, which is a synthetic compound, structurally related to methcathinone, which is found in Khat — a plant that is illegal in many countries, including the U.K. and the U.S. Usually, that would mean that these compounds (and derivatives thereof) would be illegal in those countries too, but because the bath salts are labeled “not for human consumption,” they get around this restriction and other legislation governing the supply of medicines for human use. However, Florida and Louisiana — two hotspots of bath salts abuse — specifically banned the substances. U.K. officials banned the import of bath salts, which may lead some in the drug trade to set up clandestine labs on U.K. soil, said Sutcliffe. The new method provides law enforcement with a tool to track down these bath salts manufacturers.

In previous work, Sutcliffe developed the first pure reference standard for mephedrone, as well as the first reliable liquid chromatography test for the substance, which could be easily run in a typical law enforcement lab. The team is also developing a color-change test kit for mephedrone, which he estimates may be available by the end of the year.

In another presentation, Robert Lantz, Ph.D., from the Rocky Mountain Instrumental Laboratories, described another high that is legal in most of the U.S. — synthetic cannabinoids marketed as incense, a spice product or “legal marijuana” that give a high similar to marijuana without showing up in conventional drug tests.

“We can detect synthetic cannabinoids with modern analytical chemistry techniques, such as liquid or gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, but these assays are too expensive for the 5,000-10,000 urine samples that most drug testing labs receive each day,” said Lantz. Most labs screen for drugs with less expensive antibody assays, but because the structures of these substances are so dissimilar, different antibodies would likely be required for many of them, driving up the cost of a more comprehensive test.

Synthetic cannabinoid abuse rose sharply in 2010, according to U.S. poison control centers, up to 2,863 compared to only 14 in 2009. About 200 synthetic cannabinoids exist, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) banned only five of those. A handful of states, such as Washington, Georgia and Colorado, banned five of them, but they are not always the same five that the DEA banned. “The states banned several specific compounds without a particular basis for their choices,” Lantz pointed out.

Colorado recently passed a law banning any substance that binds to a cannabinoid receptor in the human body. “The bill was well-intentioned, but technically, the new law not only covers synthetic cannabinoids, but also endocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring substances that the human body produces to regulate many normal processes,” said Lantz.