warn against ‘spice’ drug


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Health officials say a form of synthetic marijuana known as “spice” has caused at least a half-dozen cases of sudden kidney failure in Oregon and southwest Washington since May.

The Oregon Health Authority says experts are analyzing samples of synthetic marijuana to find the toxin that triggered the injuries. The agency has also asked doctors across the region to report any cases of kidney failure linked to the drug.

Spice-related illnesses have been reported elsewhere in the United States. Authorities in Wyoming made three arrests in March after several people in the Casper area were hospitalized for kidney failure after smoking spice.

The Oregon Board of Pharmacy voted to ban the sale and possession of synthetic cannabis products last year.

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Troubleshooter: Cops can’t stop store from selling spice


CLARKSVILLE, IN (WAVE) – A dangerous drug is being sold right out in the open right in the heart of Kentuckiana. The WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department went undercover to expose how one local business is getting away with it and why police have not been able to stop it.

Business is booming at one of southern Indiana’s hottest new locations, but no one wants to talk about what is on the menu.

Police said what they are buying inside Monroe’s in Clarksville is synthetic marijuana. Its street name is spice. Spice is a shredded, dried plant sprayed with chemicals that produces a mind altering high.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse said people who smoke spice often feel psychotic effects. The effects include extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations that have been linked to illness and death.

Spice is illegal in Indiana, but Troubleshooter Eric Flack discovered it is being sold right out in the open at Monroe’s. Hidden camera video caught a seemingly revolving door as streams of customers come and go. Parents and professionals. Young and old.

“I’ve seen it busier than Kroger right next door,” said Cpl. Tony Lehman of the Clarksville Police Department.

A WAVE 3 Troubleshooter producer went in undercover with a hidden camera to get a look at what was going on inside. The video shows there is nothing in the store but a pool table, a coke machine, a display case of glass pipes, and a man behind a counter who chose his words carefully.

“What you trying to get?” the man asked our undercover producer. She told him she was looking for spice.

“We don’t sell spice baby,” he said. “We got some incense.”

Although he referred to what he was selling as incense, his intent seemed clear when we asked him about the range of prices.

“Depends on how strong you want your incense,” the man told our undercover producer.

The undercover producer ended up buying something called Triple-X. It cost about $10 and was labeled “not for human consumption”, but it looked exactly like the synthetic marijuana linked to all those dangerous side effects.

The guy who gave our producer the Triple-X would not come out and talk to Troubleshooter Eric Flack when he returned to Monroe’s to get an explanation about what they were selling.

“Cut that (expletive) camera off man,” he said.

The Clarksville Police Department has been investigating the store for months but thus far have been unable to make any arrests.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Cpl. Lehman said. “It’s just horrible for the community, it’s horrible for the kids and people who smoke this stuff, and its so frustrating that we can’t do anything about it.”

The Troubleshooter Department discovered the reason police can not do anything about it. Technology used by Indiana State Police can not keep up with the problem.

State Representative Milo Smith, who wrote Indiana’s spice law, said ISP’s lab equipment is not advanced enough to identify the newer, altered compounds of synthetic marijuana, which can be just a few molecules different from the original. Police said they can not press charges until tests confirm the presence of those banned chemical compounds.

Representative Smith said state police have not given up. He said ISP is now searching for private labs with equipment capable of proving what is being sold at Monroe’s is illegal so they can stop it from being sold on the open market.

In the midst of the Troubleshooter investigation, Monroe’s was the scene of a violent confrontation with a man who allegedly tried to break into the store and steal the synthetic marijuana.

Kevin Martin is now facing a list of charges that includes resisting arrest and burglary after he fought with officers who caught him trying to rob Monroe’s. Witnesses saw Martin throw a rock through the front door and called police. When officers arrived they said Martin fought with them and tried to escape before he was finally handcuffed and taken into custody.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office is aware of growing spice problem in the area and is trying to step up enforcement and is threatening to seize the assets of businesses caught selling spice if they don not sign an affidavit to stop.

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!

Synthetic Drug Ring In Allentown Busted By DEA


Thats right 15 people were arrested in bust of alleged synthetic drugs operation run from Allentown warehouse.
NORRISTOWN, Montgomery County — The inventory in an old east Allentown warehouse was a drug user’s paradise: rows and rows of colorful glass smoking bongs, boxes holding thousands of grinders and scales, hundreds of rolling papers and about $200,000.

For store owners in the region looking to score chemically enhanced drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana, not to mention the goods needed to smoke them, J&L Wholesale Distributors at 1006 Hanover Ave. was the place to go, authorities say.

J&L’s lucrative enterprise, housed in a nondescript building near a day care center and in a school zone, kicked into high gear when synthetic drugs were declared illegal in Pennsylvania a year ago, authorities said.

But that came crashing down Thursday for J&L owner Kenneth Grossman when police rounded up him and 14 others, mostly from the Lehigh Valley. Authorities said they say helped push a relatively cheap high on drug users from the Lehigh Valley to New Jersey.

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All were charged with participating in a corrupt organization and profiting from the proceeds of illegal activity, both first-degree felonies, and related drug offenses.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said during a news conference with Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin that the elaborate drug sting, known as “Operation Bowls, Bongs and Beyond,” put a dent in the drug trade in both counties, yielded synthetic marijuana, two tractor-trailers filled with paraphernalia, plus several guns.

Police also seized more than $900,000, including money from the warehouse and several bank accounts, and dozens of common items such as soda cans, sugar containers and clocks that were hollowed out to create secret compartments used to hide drugs.

Grossman, 52, of 820 E. Chew St., Allentown also was part of a partnership that ran Insense Specialties, which supplied the illegal drugs, mainly synthetic marijuana and bath salts, authorities said. The others in the partnership were: Jason Grossman, 24, of 1847 Cloverdale Road, Bethlehem; Rajwant Thind, 30, of 6498 Overlook Road, Orefield; and Malwinder Mangat, 26, of 1016 Hilltop Court, Leesport.

Martin said the arrests show authorities are making good on their pledge last year to crack down on store owners selling the drugs that became illegal in August 2011 and their suppliers.

“Hopefully, they will get the message that we will prosecute,” Martin said.

Known as designer drugs, the substances are made from natural herbs and synthetic chemicals to mirror the effects of drugs like marijuana. But the drugs have been known to cause erratic and violent behavior in those who take them. Police say people high on the synthetic drugs have unusual strength and tolerance to pain.

Ferman said she was particularly disturbed that the drugs were targeted at youngsters, with packaging labeled “Scooby Snax” and with the Batman emblem. She pointed out an incident in June 30 during which a 20-year-old man from Upper Pottsgrove Township, Montgomery County, involved in a vehicle crash told medics that he was hallucinating after smoking a substance called “K-2” and took his hands off the wheel “to see what happened.”

“This is a huge, profitable business and these people are in it for the money,” Ferman said. “This is a community [in Allentown] where children are in the neighborhood. These are toxic, dangerous substances.”

Ferman said J&L became the prime target of the probe involving multiple police departments after investigators realized that items seized in store busts all led back to the warehouse. Among the stores that allegedly distributed the drugs and paraphernalia: Deli Mart, South Whitehall Township; Trexler Plaza Sunoco in Upper Macungie Township; the EZ Shoppe in East Greenville; Main Street Market in Schwenksville; and U.S. Gas in Upper Frederick Township.

Detective Joseph P. Kelly Jr. of Souderton police, who helped head the investigation, said Grossman even took his show on the road to branch out, bringing samples to an October 2011 “head shop” convention in Atlantic City, N.J.,

Police went as far as setting up a fake business in Souderton to order items from J&L, and used multiple informants to pin down all of the players.

Thind, identified in court records as manager of the Trexler Plaza Sunoco at 5917 Tilghman St., Upper Macungie, told police that Kenneth Grossman took a majority of the synthetic drug product orders and that Thind and Mangat filled the orders and sent the products to customers.

The others charged were employees of Grossman’s company or store owners who bought items from J&L and resold them.

They include: Kunal G. Patel, 42, of 377 Indigo Way, Upper Macungie; Jaymin G. Patel, 45, of 457 Wild Mint Lane, Upper Macungie; Dean A. Fenstermaker Jr., 29, of 4272 Windsor Drive, Upper Macungie; Jeffrey Robertson Jr., 25, of 10441 Trexler Road, Upper Macungie; Abdulah F. Soonasra, 64, of 1713 Brookstone Drive, Alburtis; Lisa A. Zupa, 35, of 233 Harvard Avenue, Palmerton; Mohammed F. Rahman, 42, of Lansdale; Ibrahim Fayez Saloum, 41, of Schwenksville; Amy N. Velazquez, 30, of Schwenksville; Yashvant M. Patel, 49, of East Greenville; Yogesh Patel, 44, of East Greenville.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting all of the cases.

Bath salts’ popularity points to dangerous trend


The new drug hit Batavia’s youth like the plague.
A piercing artist at Affliction Tattoo shop, Eric Betz, had seen his fair share of stoned, high and tripping substance abusers.
But nothing like the girl he saw in the park next to his house smashing her head into a cement wall.
“Ever see Batman?” he asked. “They act like the Joker: Psychotic. Aggressive. Paranoid.”
The culprit was “bath salts,” the increasingly popular narcotic associated with violent acts and paranoia. Bath salts were sold legally in head shops and corner stores across New York State up until two weeks ago, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a crackdown on synthetic drugs sweeping the nation. The governor unveiled new state Health Department regulations making it illegal to buy or sell these synthetic drugs, with violators facing up to $500 in fines and up to 15 days in jail.
Experts say that while making the drugs illegal may cut down on the number of cases reported, it will likely not annihilate the drug.
“We banned marijuana, cocaine and heroin, but they’re still out there,” said Senior Detective Alan Rozansky, head of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Squad.
The drug isn’t related to regular bath salts used in bathing, which are made of actual salt and added fragrances. But the narcotics were sometimes sold under that label.
The drug is in fact synthesized from various methamphetamine-like chemicals, allowing it to be inhaled, swallowed or injected.
As a new drug, its effects have yet to be fully understood, though research indicates it’s highly addictive.
Its use nationwide spiked in the past year. In 2010, poison control centers reported receiving 304 phone calls related to bath salts. Last year, that number shot up to 6,138, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The powdery substances were previously sold in small packets at head shops or corner stores – and often most accessible over the Internet.
Prices ranged from $25 to $50 for a 50-milligram packet.
Though generically referred to as “bath salts,” they’ve been sold under names such as Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Red Dove, White Dove, Blue Silk and Zoom. Sometimes they were labeled as plant food.
The bath salts have been manufactured with legal chemicals, allowing distributors to sell them without criminal penalty.
While “bath salts” aren’t methamphetamine or cocaine, experts say they could be more threatening because they were only recently made illegal, and because the community has yet to build up the same fear that surrounds other drugs.
Last year, after several minors showed up at hospitals with bath salt-related symptoms – hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and rapid heart rates – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. authorized search warrants for the drug sellers and several arrests were made, including that of a Williamsville man accused of selling synthetic marijuana from two shops in Tonawanda, where authorities also seized bath salts.
While the drug itself was still legal at the time of the raids, Hochul said the sales were illegal under the Federal Analog Act because the bath salts had the same effect as a regulated drug, such as methamphetamine and that the seller sold the drug for purposes of human consumption.
Authorities said the sellers would tell undercover officers something like, “It gives you a good high.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office filed lawsuits in 12 counties last month, accusing 16 stores of violating state labeling laws, after investigators found head shops selling bath salts, among other synthetic drugs, in packages that failed to list ingredients.
Pavilion International, which operates shops at 3234 Main St. in Buffalo and 4225 Transit Road in Amherst, was among those sued.
While Genesee County had more highly publicized episodes and greater community involvement in protesting the drug’s use, Hochul said a similar number of cases are seen in Buffalo. They are just overshadowed by a wide range of other crimes that get more publicity, he said.
In Batavia, the use of bath salts declined since police shut down the 420 Emporium, a major market for the drug, said Detective Rich Schauf of the Batavia Police Department.
The fact that bath salts are now illegal should also decrease their use, he said.But he is concerned that, because the drug was once legal, people will believe it isn’t harmful and make them curious to try it.
“Up until now, you could walk into the store and buy it,” he said.
Because of the new regulations and educational programs, Schauf said he believes people are starting to understand that the drug was never intended for recreational use and is dangerous.
“It’s a common misconception that ‘legal’ equals ‘safe,’ ” he said. “That’s not the case at all.”
Bath salts have increased the workload at Batavia’s United Memorial Medical Center’s emergency room, according to Chief Medical Officer Michael Merrill.
“At one point, we had patients coming in every day,” he said.
Merrill describes bath salts as “designer drugs meant to be effective,” and particularly dangerous due to their link with violent acts.
The new drug, though, has been especially troubling to Betz, the tattoo shop employee, who said he knows about 15 people who use it.
He and his co-workers have created a Facebook page, Let’s Beat Bath Salts, where people in the area have shared stories of what they’ve witnessed in order to stir their crusade against the drug’s use.
“I’ve watched them destroy their lives, lose their money and their self-respect,” he said.

Rudy Eugene’s Toxicology Report: Experts speculate on what caused ‘face-chewing’ attack


CBS/AP) MIAMI – Experts are still speculating about what may have caused Rudy Eugene’s face-chewing attack on Ronald Poppo in Miami last month. A toxicology report on Wednesday failed to find “bath salts” and other major street drugs in Eugene’s system.

Pictures: Fla. police identify “face-eating” naked man

The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner said in a news release that the toxicology detected marijuana but it didn’t find any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs. Eugene also tested negative for adulterants commonly mixed with street drugs.

An expert on toxicology testing said marijuana alone wasn’t likely to cause behavior as strange as Eugene’s.

“The problem today is that there is an almost an infinite number of chemical substances out there that can trigger unusual behavior,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida.

There has been much speculation about what drugs, if any, would lead to the bizarre May 26 attack at a Miami causeway that left Poppo, 65, missing about 75 percent of his face. The tests ruled out the suggestion that 35-year-old Eugene may have been under the influence of bath salts, which mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine and have been associated with bizarre crimes in recent months.

An outside forensic toxicology lab, which took a second look at the results, also confirmed the absence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and LSD.

Goldberger said the medical examiner’s office in Miami is known for doing thorough work and he’s confident they and the independent lab covered as much ground as possible. But it’s nearly impossible for toxicology testing to keep pace with new formulations of synthetic drugs.

“There are many of these synthetic drugs that we currently don’t have the methodology to test on, and that is not the fault of the toxicology lab. The challenge today for the toxicology lab is to stay on top of these new chemicals and develop methodologies for them but it’s very difficult and very expensive.” Goldberger said. “There is no one test or combination of tests that can detect every possible substance out there.”

An addiction expert said she wouldn’t rule out marijuana causing the agitation.

“It could have been the strain of marijuana that increases the dopamine in the brain, such as sativa,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera, assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

There are two strains of marijuana called sativa and indica. The sativa increases dopamine and gives you energy while decreasing pain threshold. Indica is a “sleepy high,” she explained.

“People don’t really know what the amount of either is in each little packet of marijuana,” she explained. “And we can’t differentiate between the two in the blood, much less in a dead person.”

She also suggested that if Eugene had a mental disorder, “the marijuana could have increased even further the dopamine levels and aggravated the situation. So that can’t be ruled out.”

Eugene’s friends and family have said he was religious, not violent and that he didn’t drink or do drugs harder than marijuana, so they are baffled as to what caused Eugene’s brutal assault against the homeless victim.

“There’s no answer for it, not really,” said Marckenson Charles, Eugene’s younger brother. “Anybody who knew him knows this wasn’t the person we knew him to be. Whatever triggered him, there is no answer for this.”

Charles said the family does not plan to pursue any legal action against the police for shooting Eugene on the day of the face-chewing attack. Surveillance video from a nearby building shows Eugene stripping Poppo and pummeling him. The police officer who shot Eugene to death reportedly said Eugene growled at the officer when he told him to stop.

“They used the force they felt was necessary even if we don’t agree with that,” Charles said.

He said Eugene has been buried.

Poppo has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized. His left eye was removed, but doctors said earlier this month they were trying to find a way to restore vision in his right eye. He will need more surgeries before he can explore the options for reconstructing his face, doctors have said.

Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Braunstein unveil anti-bath salts bill to toughen penalties


State Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R/C/IP -Rome), supported by Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside),have unveiled new legislation designed to meet the rising use of the drugs with legislation that will help protect the public. The legislation is also supported by Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D/WF/IP-Utica), in response to an escalation of bath salts use in his district.

“In 2011, we took a strong role to address the issue of these hallucinogenic drugs being sold in New York, and we passed a good law that Gov. Cuomo signed last July. However, what we are seeing in recent days is a dramatic upsurge in incidents in which the violent, bizarre behavior of individuals who have confronted the police is being linked to their use of these drugs. As such, I am going to be working with my partners in the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s office to pass legislation that will take stronger action, because I believe the response to what we are seeing is to take even stronger measures to protect families and our law enforcement personnel,” Griffo said.

“Between the time we developed last year’s legislation and this summer, we have seen an explosion of synthetic drugs that are causing serious law enforcement, health and mental health problems for communities and families across New York State,” said Braunstein. “Our goal with this new legislation is to respond to the concerns addressed to us by law enforcement and develop a bill that will give them the tools needed to crack down harder in order to end the widespread misuse of these drugs.”

“One of the reasons the use of bath salts has skyrocketed in recent weeks is its easy availability,” said Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D/WF/IP-Utica.) “I am joining with Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Braunstein as a sponsor on this legislation, because I believe it will make it much more difficult for store owners to sell these products. When people use these drugs, they often become violent and irrational, and this has become a serious public safety issue. It is important that we get the message across to store owners and individuals that if they sell these products, they can face significant criminal penalties.”

The new bill would classify substituted cathinones (these products, often referred to as “bath salts”, are chemically related to methamphetamines and ecstasy – which are both classified as stimulants) as Schedule I stimulant controlled substances and create a Statewide substituted Cathinone Surrender Program to allow for surrender of these harmful substances to appropriate authorities. Griffo noted that his initial legislation criminalized the sale of “bath salt” products containing Mephedrone and MDPV. Since then, a current practice of making minor alterations to chemicals to subvert statutes that prohibit distinct chemicals made it possible for slightly altered “bath salt” products to continue to be sold in New York State. Braunstein noted that in this new legislation, by adding substituted cathinones to the CSA based on foundational chemical structures, this loophole of chemical alteration would be closed. Not only will this bill provide criminal sanctions, but also makes it a felony to sell such product to a minor or on school grounds

Senator Griffo praised Assemblyman Braunstein, who has sponsored previous bills on bath salts with him, and also Assemblyman Brindisi for his support for laws in response to the dangerous increase in bath salts use.

“There is a can-do spirit in Albany that says when there is a public safety priority to address, we work as partners and we move as fast as we can and we work as hard as we can to get results,” Griffo said. “Assemblyman Braunstein’s efforts will help make New York safer. I appreciate the partnership with Assemblyman Brindisi so that we can move this bill swiftly through both chambers when we return to Albany. Protecting the people knows no party lines.”

“I am proud to work together again with Senator Joseph A. Griffo, to pass this bill, which would strengthen our previous legislation by preventing drug dealers from evading the law by changing the chemical composition of ‘bath salts.’ These dangerous meth-like drugs have caused numerous violent and tragic incidents throughout the country and we must take stronger action against ‘bath salts’ in order to protect the public as well as law enforcement officers,” Assemblyman Braunstein said.

According to UPSTATE Medical University and the Upstate New York Poison Center “bath salts” is a common term used for man-made stimulant (upper) drugs that are similar to “ICE” methamphetamine (or crystal meth). Since they are very similar to other stimulant (upper) drugs like meth (amphetamine), they are very dangerous when used. “Bath salts” can be snorted, smoked, or even put in water and injected using a needle. They come in a variety of different and attractive packaging with enticing names like “Cloud Nine”, “White Lightening.” “Purple Rain”, “Pixie Dust”, and many more. These drugs stimulate the nervous system (brain) and the cardiac system (heart). Severe symptoms may occur including convulsions, seizures, chest pain, excessive sweating, hallucination, anger/violence, suicidal thoughts and action. The use of “bath salts” can cause heart attacks, permanent brain damage and scary hallucinations that can last for days or even weeks. Behavior can result in suicide or the harm to or killing of others. The Upstate New York Poison Center has received 198 cases of reported incidents related to “bath salts” so far in 2012. Central New York has been particularly hard hit, with Oneida County having 36 cases in 2012, as opposed to 8 in 2011; Onondaga County 35 (9 in 2011); Oswego County 17 Cases (10 in 2011); and Madison County having 15 cases (none in 2011).

Griffo said, “These so-called ‘bath salts’ are not the same as aromatic bath salts. They contain a potentially lethal mix of synthetic drugs and serve no purpose other than to get the user high. My legislation sought to ban these dangerous substances so we may help keep our young people safe and give our law enforcement the authority to rid our State of these dangerous drugs. What we are finding since the law took effect is that more action is needed because of the incidents taking place across Central New York.”

Braunstein added: “Dangerous substances are being marketed under many names, but the result is the same – damaging effects to the user and potentially dangerous situations for the police and community. Our new bill will help to stop this epidemic.”

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.

ICE participates in nationwide synthetic drug takedown


ICE participates in nationwide synthetic drug takedown

 

WASHINGTON – More than 90 individuals were arrested and approximately five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs were seized in the first-ever nationwide law enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of synthetic drugs that are often marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense, or plant food. More than $36 million in cash was also seized.

As of today, more than 4.8 million packets of synthetic cannabinoids (K2, Spice) and the products to produce nearly 13.6 million more, as well as 167,000 packets of synthetic cathinones (bath salts), and the products to produce an additional 392,000 were seized.

Operation Log Jam was conducted jointly by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with assistance from the IRS Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, as well as state and local law enforcement members in more than 109 U.S. cities and targeted every level of the synthetic designer drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

“Today, we struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry. The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits,” said Acting Director of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations James Chaparro. “ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring this industry to its knees.”

“Although tremendous progress has been made in legislating and scheduling these dangerous substances, this enforcement action has disrupted the entire illegal industry, from manufacturers to retailers,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Together with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we are committed to targeting these new and emerging drugs with every scientific, legislative and investigative tool at our disposal.”

“The synthetic drug industry is an emerging area where we can leverage our financial investigative expertise to trace the path of illicit drug proceeds by identifying the financial linkages among the various co-conspirators,” said Richard Weber, chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and ultimately dismantle the highest level drug trafficking and drug money laundering organizations that pose the greatest threat to Americans and American interests.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service aggressively investigates the use of the U.S. Mail system for the distribution of illegal controlled substances and its proceeds. Our agency uses a multi-tiered approach to these crimes: protection against the use of the mail for illegal purposes and enforcement of laws against drug trafficking and money laundering. This includes collaboration with other agencies,” said Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell.

“The mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to guard our country’s borders from people and goods that could harm our way of life,” said Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar. “We are proud to be part of an operation that disrupts the flow of synthetic drugs into the country and out of the hands of the American people.”

Over the past several years, there has been a growing use of, and interest in, synthetic cathinones (stimulants/hallucinogens) sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food.” Marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” or “Bliss,” these products are comprised of a class of dangerous substances perceived to mimic cocaine, LSD, MDMA and/or methamphetamine. Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes. The long-term physical and psychological effects of use are unknown but potentially severe.

These products have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults and those who mistakenly believe they can bypass the drug testing protocols that have been set up by employers and government agencies to protect public safety. They are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. However, they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for human consumption or for medical use, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.

Smokable herbal blends marketed as being “legal” and providing a marijuana-like high have also become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults, because they are easily available and, in many cases, they are more potent and dangerous than marijuana. These products consist of plant material that has been coated with dangerous psychoactive compounds that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Just as with the synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet. Brands such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” are labeled as incense to mask their intended purpose.

While many of the designer drugs being marketed today that were seized as part of Operation Log Jam are not specifically prohibited in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 (AEA) allows these drugs to be treated as controlled substances if they are proven to be chemically and/or pharmacologically similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance. A number of cases that are part of Operation Log Jam will be prosecuted federally under this analogue provision, which specifically exists to combat these new and emerging designer drugs.

DEA has used its emergency scheduling authority to combat both synthetic cathinones (the so-called bath salts like Ivory Wave, etc.) and synthetic cannabinoids (the so-called incense products like K2, Spice, etc.), temporarily placing several of these dangerous chemicals into Schedule I of the CSA. Congress has also acted, permanently placing 26 substances into Schedule I of the CSA.

In 2010, poison centers nationwide responded to about 3,200 calls related to synthetic “Spice” and “bath salts.” In 2011, that number jumped to more than 13,000 calls. Sixty percent of the cases involved patients 25 and younger

INFO FROM http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1207/120726washingtondc.htm

The battle against bath salts


People are inventing so many new, legal ways to get high that lawmakers can’t keep up.

So law enforcers are taking new steps to target these synthetic drugs.

Those steps include coordinated raids. The latest was Wednesday, when federal agents arrested more than 90 people in a nationwide sweep of synthetic drug producers, distributors and retailers — including a number in Pennsylvania.

Across the country, agents seized more than five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs, including substances marketed as bath salts, spice, incense, K-2 and plant food, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

They also recovered more than $36 million in cash in the sweep, code named Operation Log Jam.

“We struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry,” said James Chaparro, the acting director of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations. “The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits.”

In Pennsylvania, agents searched residences, convenience stores, gas stations, smoke shops and other similar businesses in several counties, including Montgomery and Philadelphia.

They seized more than 300,000 individual doses of synthetic marijuana and illegal bath salts, with an estimated street value of $1.25 million. They also recovered more than 50,000 pieces of drug paraphernalia related to the smoking or consumption of synthetic drugs and about $250,000 in cash and assets, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Over the past two years, the U.S. has seen a surge in the use of synthetic drugs made of legal chemicals that mimic the dangerous effects of cocaine, amphetamines and other illegal stimulants.

The drugs are often sold at small, independent stores in misleading packaging that suggests common household items. But the substances inside are powerful, mind-altering drugs that have been linked to bizarre and violent behavior across the country.

Law enforcement officials refer to the drugs collectively as “bath salts,” though they have nothing in common with the fragrant toiletries used to moisturize skin.

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law earlier this month that bans the sale, production and possession of more than two dozen of the most common bath salt drugs. But health professionals say that there are so many varieties of the drugs that U.S. lawmakers are always playing catch up.

“The moment you start to regulate one of them, they’ll come out with a variant that sometimes is even more potent,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Emergencies related to the drugs have surged: The American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 6,100 calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 — up from just 304 the year before — and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012.

In Montgomery County, coroner Dr. Walter Hoffman said four deaths have been attributed to the use of bath salt drugs — including a 28-year-old man and 15-year-old girl from Pottstown who were killed in a motor vehicle accident. All four people who died from the drugs were under 30 years old, he said. Bucks County Coroner Dr. Joseph Campbell said that no deaths in Bucks County have been directly attributed to bath salt use.

A Quakertown father has attributed his son’s suicide to mental health problems following bath salt use. And authorities said an Upper Moreland teen was severely injured when he jumped from the top level of the Willow Grove Park mall parking garage after smoking an unidentified synthetic drug.

Many states have banned some of the most common bath salt drugs. For instance, in June 2011, Pennsylvania legislators banned the possession, use and sale of synthetic “designer” drugs.

But while U.S. laws prohibit the sale or possession of all substances that mimic illegal drugs, that’s only true if federal prosecutors can show they’re intended for human consumption. People who make these drugs work around this by printing “not for human consumption” on packets.

Despite the bans, bath salts producers are constantly tweaking their recipes to come up with new drugs that aren’t covered by state or federal laws. In fact, Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, says there are so many different drugs out there that it’s almost impossible to know what people have ingested, or how long the effects will last.

“Cocaine is cocaine and meth is meth. We know what these things do,” he said. “But with these new drugs, every time the chemist alters the chemical structure, all bets are off.”

These drugs include synthetic marijuana substitutes, also known as “herbal incense.”

At one Doylestown store, the packages were marked “not for human consumption.” When the owner was asked if she knew people smoked the product, she said she doesn’t know anything about what customers do with it.

A man leaving the store with a vial of the synthetic “incense” in his hand said he smokes it because he’s on probation for a DUI charge.

“Before (my DUI), I would not have tried any of this stuff,” said the man, who asked that he not be identified. “Even switching over to this stuff now that I can’t smoke weed is demeaning to me.”

The most common bath salt drugs, like MDPV and mephedrone, were first developed in pharmaceutical research laboratories, though they were never approved for medical use. During the last decade, they became popular as party drugs in Europe. As law enforcement began cracking down on the problem there, the drugs spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

The most dangerous synthetic drugs are stimulants that affect levels of both dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals that affect mood and perception. Users, who typically smoke or snort the powder-based drugs, may experience a surge in energy, fever and delusions of invincibility.

Hospital emergency rooms, doctors and law enforcement agencies across the country have struggled to control bath salt drug users who often are feverish and paranoid. Hospitals in Bucks and Montgomery counties said they’ve had cases of suspected bath salts abuse, but they aren’t tracked separately from other drug overdoses.