Bath salts may be as addictive as cocaine


Recreational drugs called bath salts, which have gained popularity recently and have been in the news for their bizarre effects on users, have the potential for abuse and addiction, similar to that of cocaine.

Bath salts, which, despite their name, have no use in the tub, are different variations of the compound called cathinone, an alkaloid that comes from the khat plant. Currently, 42 U.S. states have laws banning many substituted cathinones. Mephedrone is one of the most common derivatives of cathinone and was listed federally in October 2011 on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act for one year, pending further study. Then on July 9, 2012, President Barack Obama signed a law placing bath salts containing mephedrone or the stimulant MDPV onto the controlled substances list.

The drugs can cause a laundry list of body and mind changes, including dizziness, delusions, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, seizures, nausea, vomiting and even death.

In the study, Malanga and his colleagues trained mice to spin a wheel to receive a reward. In this case, the reward was direct stimulation of a brain circuit involved in reward perception. The electrical stimulation came from electrodes implanted into the mice’s brains.

“These are tiny, tiny currents at the very tip of a tiny, tiny electrode, delivering the current to very specific and discrete brain circuits,” said Dr. C.J. Malanga, an associate professor of neurology, pediatrics and psychology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Called intracranial self-stimulation, the method has been used since the 1950s to look at whether drugs activate reward areas of the brain. The thinking goes that when the electrical stimulation is intense enough for the mice to perceive it as rewarding, these mice will work hard to spin the wheel and get more of that reward. “If you let them, an animal will work to deliver self-stimulation to the exclusion of everything else — it won’t eat, it won’t sleep,” Malanga told LiveScience. [10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction]

During the study, the researchers measured wheel-spinning effort before, during and after the implanted mice received various doses of either mephedrone or cocaine.

“All drugs of abuse, regardless of how they act in the brain — heroin, morphine, cocaine amphetamine, alcohol, do the same thing to ICSS, they increase its rewarding value,” Malanga said. So for a lower electrical stimulation, one that wasn’t considered rewarding previously, the mice drugged with cocaine, say, would then be willing to spin the wheel.

It turned out that mephedrone had the same reward potency as cocaine, causing the mice to work for the reward at lower stimulations.

The study results, published online June 21 in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, suggest mephedrone and similar drugs have significant addiction potential, supporting the recent ban on the sale of bath salts in the United States, signed on July 9, Malanga said.

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Arkansas ER’s Seeing More People With Synthetic Marijuana Side Effects


BENTONVILLE, Ark. — While Arkansas bans another form of synthetic marijuana, called “XLR11,” ER doctors say it’s not slowing users down.

It’s a little package that packs a big punch.

“People are seeing things, they’re hearing things, they want to kill themselves, they want to kill other people. It’s just really messed up,” says Dr. Jim Holden, who works in the emergency room at Northwest Medical Center in Bentonville.

Inside local ER’s, doctors find themselves treating the side effects of synthetic marijuana.

“We’ve seen a big increase over the past few years of young people and even older people with problems associated with K2 and Spice.”

But manufacturers keep changing the chemical compositions as fast as legislation is outlawing the substances.

“It’s easy to get and a lot of young people are using that. They don’t have to go out and find a dealer to buy marijuana from, they can just go to the convenience store and find someone to sell them this. Physically it’s a lot more dangerous than marijuana, I mean you can use it one time and you can die from it,” says Dr. Holden.

And it may be even more dangerous, just because it seems so innocent.

“People don’t really understand what it is the synthetic marijuana acts on the same receptors that marijuana does, but it acts in a totally different way.”

It’s different enough, to be deadly

“It can be life threatening. We’ve seen several episodes where people have died from using K2 and Spice.”

Which makes you wonder, why do people even mess with such a dangerous substance?

“We ask that all the time but its the same with any kind of drug abuse, methamphetamine alcohol abuse, it’s easy to get addicted to these drugs,” says Holden.

And while the law tries to keep up, the doctors in this ER hope people will take this little packet more seriously.

Recreational drugs come in many forms


MOUNT VERNON — They’re called recreational drugs, but the term defies logic. They come in all forms, and go by many names. Pills, powders, liquids, crystals, crushed leaves and gases are smoked, sniffed, swallowed or injected. Users may want to get up or get down, or merely escape their problems for awhile. They do it with Spice and Special K, roofies and reefers, Dexies and downers, snappers and smack, and the result is seldom pretty.

The seedy subculture of drug abuse creates a few millionaires and many slaves. Kids seeking a thrill and addicts craving a fix spend billions on drugs. They don’t set out to become dependent or cross criminal lines, and they certainly don’t intend to die — that only happens to the other guy.

This series of articles has discussed heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, bath salts and marijuana, and while those are among the most common illegal drugs, they by no means stand alone. Prescription medications are abused by millions. Clandestine labs concoct substances that toy with the delicate workings of the human brain. And there is widespread abuse of the least imaginable common substances as inhalants.

Experts routinely use the term epidemic in regards to prescription opiates, and the Justice Department estimates that more than seven million Americans, including 6.6 percent of kids aged 12-17 and 11.9 percent of those 18-25, misused painkillers at least once in 2009. Overdose deaths attributed to prescription painkillers exceed those from heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine combined.

Drug users also seek out other medications. Central nervous system depressants that are prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, such as Nembutal, Valium and Xanax, may be obtained through friends, stolen from family members, purchased from drug dealers or acquired through doctor shopping. The same is true for stimulants like Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin, which are prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy patients.

Legal but Dangerous: Synthetic drug causing problems in Casa Grande


The “spice” container reads: “Warning This Product is Not For Human Consumption.” It’s marketed as incense, herbs or potpourri, but you won’t find it at your local home or candle store. You’ll find this spice at the local convenience and liquor stores, gas stations and smoke shops.The problem with this dangerous drug is so big that President Barack Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 in early July. The law bans synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs like “bath salts,” which are commonly sold as plant food. They have nothing in common with the toiletries used to soften skin.

But the manufacturers simply change the formula slightly to stay one step ahead of the law.

No numbers are yet available for emergency calls resulting from using spice, but the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported more than 6,100 emergency calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 — up from just 304 in 2010 — and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012.

What exactly is spice?

“People say that it’s synthetic marijuana,” said Cindy Schaider, executive director of the Casa Grande Alliance. “It’s not marijuana — in fact that’s part of the danger. People in the first place erroneously believe marijuana is safe — which it’s not — but then if marijuana is safe, then synthetic marijuana would be safe. Neither one is safe, but spice is a really dangerous drug.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines spice as a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana (cannabis) and that are marketed as safe, legal alternatives to that drug.

Spice looks like dried grass clippings or shredded plant materials, but it contains chemical additives responsible for mind-altering effects that have been linked to violent behavior across the United States.

According to the National Association for Addiction Professionals, there are two receptors in the human brain that react to cannabinoids. One reduces pain and the other allows people to “get high.” Synthetic or natural substances used to get high can have many other effects on humans: severe anxiety, panic attacks, disassociation, racing thoughts, hallucinations, rapid pulse (tachycardia) and death/suicide.

“The chemical in marijuana stimulates the part of the brain called the cannabinoid receptor and that is what gives them the feeling of intoxication,” Schaider said. “Spice has synthetically created a similar chemical — they spray it on these leaves so when you smoke it, it stimulates that part of your brain.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was able to get five of the major chemicals banned for a one-year period but companies that produce spice are constantly reformulating the chemicals to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.

What smokers say

It’s legal to buy yet everyone I interviewed didn’t want to provide a real name.

“James,” 45, smokes spice every day. “I’ve been smoking it for a couple years — it’s off the chain!” James said. “It’s awesome — for one thing it doesn’t show up on my job’s drug screen. I operate heavy equipment and am drug tested frequently.” James was constantly shifting and appeared nervous, while beads of sweat appeared on his face, despite the fact the interview was conducted in an air-conditioned building.

“You get the same effect as marijuana but you don’t get as sleepy or hallucinate — you get a high but it stops sooner — you stay high for an hour or two. I roll mine in a flavored blunt — try to cover up the taste.”

 

Mom, 40, and Daughter, 19, smoke spice together. This particular day they bought 10 grams of spice, the volume equivalent of $30 in marijuana. “We smoke spice because marijuana is too expensive,” they said.

Mom works in the behavioral health department at a Florence correctional facility. “Not only that but my job drug screens and this isn’t detectable. I’m a little scared and nervous about the things I’ve heard about it though,” she said.

“How people are ending up in diapers or losing their hair or have internal bleeding.” But that doesn’t stop them from using it. “It’s almost the equivalent of smoking marijuana,” Mom said. “Except this is a little more intense — it’s a quicker high but it goes away quicker too. There have been times when I smoked it and I’m sitting down — I have to literally think about what I’m going to do even if it’s just to go to the bathroom — I have to plan it out because I feel like I’m about to fall.”

Drivers under the influence of the drug may face charges of driving while impaired, said Officer Thomas Anderson of the Casa Grande Police Department.

Boyfriend, 28, and Girlfriend, 25, smoke spice regularly.

“I’ve smoked it quite a few times,” Boyfriend said. “It gives you a good high for 15 to 20 minutes. I’ve smoked some that has made me hallucinate — pretty wild.”

Girlfriend said she doesn’t believe it makes people sick.

“I think it’s just mass hysteria — it’s the legal way of smoking marijuana,” she said.

“It’s all a conspiracy made up by the government,” said Boyfriend. However, “I heard people died from it — that makes me nervous.”

Why do they sell it?

It’s legal to sell but the store owners don’t want to use their names.

One Casa Grande smoke shop owner said he didn’t know anything about it when asked if it was dangerous.

“It says not for human consumption,” he commented. “You seem to know more than I do about it.” Other questions received an answer of “no comment.”

A spokeswoman at Smoke’m, 1397 E. Florence Blvd., said the store sells spice as “exotic potpourri.” She said people are using it as synthetic marijuana. Her store doesn’t advertise the product and keeps it hidden behind the counter because children sometimes come into the store with parents.

“It’s [spice] not for human consumption — but it’s in my top six sellers — it’s very common. One of my employees got sick off the old stuff and he had to take a couple of days off from work — flu-like symptoms — it’s not for human consumption,” she said. The owner said she believes the drug will become illegal to sell eventually.

An employee at a liquor store in Casa Grande said she wouldn’t smoke it. She said the store has at least three regular customers, including one man who buys $30 a day in spice — that’s $900 per month.

All the stores I spoke with said they only sell the second generation of spice. However, one customer said he knew of one store that still had the original stuff — you just need to know how to ask for it.

After the first generation of spice and its chemical makeup were made illegal, developers of the product tweaked the molecular structure to avoid prosecution.

One family’s experience

Joe Rodriguez, 46, of Stanfield said he found out his 25-year-old son was smoking spice in November 2011.

“I didn’t know until I went through his room and found a little jar with a screw-on lid,” Rodriguez said. “I asked him, what is this?”

The son told him it was a legal form of cannabis since he couldn’t smoke pot at work due to drug testing.

Rodriguez said he noticed his son’s habits change — from the way he dressed to cleaning up his room.

“Stuff around the house started coming up missing — a PS3 I won at work, a watch and some other stuff,” he said. “I don’t know what he did with it — he just said he needed it. He acted totally different.”

The son had graduated from college with a computer science degree.

“This was a kid who could sit down, look at a computer and say ‘this is the problem’ without even touching it and now he’s forgetting it. My son taught me how to use a computer — he knows how to break them down, he knows code, he knows DOS. If you would have met him before he started smoking spice, he was respectful and a good kid.”

The son is now in the county jail on a misdemeanor charge for failure to appear in court. Rodriguez said one night his son got so angry he threw a speaker at his face, causing Rodriguez to need medical attention under his right eye. The son is scheduled to be released from jail later this month.

“Now he thinks somebody is following him, somebody’s bugging the house — he’s just paranoid,” he said. “This kid used to build robots in high school — this kid was smart.”

Rodriguez is worried the drug caused some permanent damage to his son.

“I know he’s not going to be the same,” he said. “But I’m hoping that he’ll stop it and move forward with his life because he’s a good kid.”

Affecting the community

“I’m really concerned about spice,” Schaider said. “We are part of the Pinal County Substance Abuse Council and put out a brochure each year about drug trends. This year our brochure is about spice and it’s perfectly legal to buy spice.”

Most employers screen with a general five-panel test, referred to as a NIDA-5. This standard test provides rapid results if marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamines, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP) are detected in the urine.

Donna McBride, spokeswoman for Pinal County Juvenile Court Services, said that last year the county was offered free testing for spice for all probationers.

“The numbers were quite high,” she said. “There is a specific test for spice — it’s quite frankly rather costly. If we have a probation officer that suspects a kid might be using this stuff, then they can request an additional testing.”

“When we test­ — we find kids using because it’s easily accessible,” she said. “Have we seen it increase? Yes, because it’s like a new fad — something that kids are going to gravitate toward — something new to try.”

McBride said that if the test comes back positive for spice, the probation officer sits down with the juvenile and the family to discuss counseling information and come up with a plan to help the juvenile. The juvenile is retested at a later date and faces consequences if the result is positive.

“If we start with this town, this county — and stop the sale of it,” Rodriguez said. “These kids are not going to drive to Phoenix to go get it. We can put a dent in stopping them from ruining our kids’ lives — or anybody’s lives.”

McBride offered up one way for the community to be more responsible.

“If you’re a business owner and you do drug testing, make sure that your drug test includes those drugs that are pertinent to our area, which includes spice and bath salts,” she said.

Bath Salts Problem Grows, Drug Counselors Say They Have Their Hands Full


 

The drug landscape is changing all across the country.  No longer are people just relying on what comes from the Earth.

They’re smoking, inhaling and shooting what chemists make in the lab.  They’re producing marijuana or bath salts.

There was a major bust around the country by the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Investigators found $59 million worth of synthetic marijuana in the Houston area alone.

It comes in small packets that indicate it’s approved by the DEA. Federal investigators say to laugh at that.

Chris Davis has been a drug counselor at Right Step in Houston for more than a decade.

“It’s up there with methamphetamine and cocaine,” Davis said.

He has 10 people he’s currently working with who are hooked on bath salts, a drug that hit the market about two years ago.

It’s a chemical mix that contains amphetamine-like chemicals and Davis says it’s just as addictive as other drugs like cocaine and the symptoms vary.

“Hallucinations and delusional, it can be very scary they can be very paranoid,” Davis said.  “It’s similar to what could happen to using methamphetamines.”

Davis says he’s glad federal agents on cracking down on the synthetic drugs that have landed in smoke shops around the county.

He says the results have made headlines with zombie like users in Florida.  He says it’s not a drug to take lightly and it’s difficult to shake.

“It takes a longer time for them to stabilize.  It’s pretty tough,” Davis said

 

 

 

 

The challenges of synthetic marijuana


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Monday afternoon the Contact 5 Investigators were undercover, inside a Martin County beverage shop.  We were hunting for synthetic marijuana.

“He would do anything to get his hands on it,” explained a local mother who asked us not to reveal her identity to protect her son.

Her interview with the Contact 5 Investigators is the first time she’s talking publicly about fake pot.

“It’s crushed our entire family, it has just ripped us apart.”

She says the chemically doused herbs sold in shiny packets and labeled with names like “Mad Hatter” and “Kriptonyt,” have turned her 19 year old son from a college bound Eagle scout to helpless and homeless.

“He was addicted to this substance and he had to have more and more and more.”

Easy to access and cheap to buy, synthetic marijuana has become a national threat, now getting national attention.

Chopper 5 captured a bust at a storage unit in suburban west palm beach Wednesday, the raid one of about 100 nationwide.

“This is one of, if not the largest distributor in the United States,” explained Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed into law a new measure that would ban the sale and production of many of the chemicals found in synthetic marijuana.

“The drug manufacturers of products, like synthetic drugs, they’re a step ahead of law enforcement,” said Philip Bulone, a former New York narcotics cop and drug abuse counselor.

Bulone questions if laws are enough to stop the synthetic spread.

“You can rest assured that someone is in a laboratory creating a new compound. ”

He believes the key to busting the problem is closing down the businesses where it’s sold.

“When you hurt your people in the pocketbook, people tend to back off.”

Until its gone, synthetic marijuana will be available.  We purchased 3 grams of “Kryptonyt” for $10 from the shop in Martin County.  We received no receipt, were asked no questions.  It’s that easy access parents, like the mother who has asked to remain anonymous, are so concerned will continue.

“It’s a slow death.  I see my son killing himself.”

According to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue during the month of June, crews responded to a dozen incidents involving synthetic marijuana. It was the highest volume of calls over synthetic marijuana in the agency’s history.

 

cracking down on synthetic marijuana


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Monday afternoon the Contact 5 Investigators were undercover, inside a Martin County beverage shop.  We were hunting for synthetic marijuana.

“He would do anything to get his hands on it,” explained a local mother who asked us not to reveal her identity to protect her son.

Her interview with the Contact 5 Investigators is the first time she’s talking publicly about fake pot.

“It’s crushed our entire family, it has just ripped us apart.”

She says the chemically doused herbs sold in shiny packets and labeled with names like “Mad Hatter” and “Kriptonyt,” have turned her 19 year old son from a college bound Eagle scout to helpless and homeless.

“He was addicted to this substance and he had to have more and more and more.”

Easy to access and cheap to buy, synthetic marijuana has become a national threat, now getting national attention.

Chopper 5 captured a bust at a storage unit in suburban west palm beach Wednesday, the raid one of about 100 nationwide.

“This is one of, if not the largest distributor in the United States,” explained Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed into law a new measure that would ban the sale and production of many of the chemicals found in synthetic marijuana.

“The drug manufacturers of products, like synthetic drugs, they’re a step ahead of law enforcement,” said Philip Bulone, a former New York narcotics cop and drug abuse counselor.

Bulone questions if laws are enough to stop the synthetic spread.

“You can rest assured that someone is in a laboratory creating a new compound. ”

He believes the key to busting the problem is closing down the businesses where it’s sold.

“When you hurt your people in the pocketbook, people tend to back off.”

Until its gone, synthetic marijuana will be available.  We purchased 3 grams of “Kryptonyt” for $10 from the shop in Martin County.  We received no receipt, were asked no questions.  It’s that easy access parents, like the mother who has asked to remain anonymous, are so concerned will continue.

“It’s a slow death.  I see my son killing himself.”

According to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue during the month of June, crews responded to a dozen incidents involving synthetic marijuana. It was the highest volume of calls over synthetic marijuana in the agency’s history.

Read more: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/fake-pot-will-it-ever-end#ixzz2220Mesnv

Synthetic drug use up among teens, counselor warns


The number of teens Todd Hoffe works with who use plant food dropped slightly after the drug and other synthetics were banned last summer.

Maybe it was fear of prosecution, or of the powerful hallucinogen itself, the Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center adolescent counselor said last week.

Either way, Hoffe said, within the past month he has noticed a resurgence.

He’s also noticed constant talk about a different man-made drug — synthetic marijuana, also called K2. A year-and-a-half ago, he would mention the substance and kids would ask him what is was.

Now they’re educating him.

A study released last December by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that one in nine high school seniors had tried synthetic marijuana in the past year. It can cause seizures and other dangerous side effects.

There aren’t specific numbers for states or cities, but Hoffe guesses, from what he has heard, that the percentage now is much higher.

To combat the use of synthetic substances and other drugs among teens, the Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center, Winona Senior High School principal Kelly Halvorsen and Cindy Althoff, director of the Miller Mentoring program, have proposed implementing a chemical-dependency treatment program this fall for high school students that would provide both substance abuse and mental health counseling.

Students would attend the free treatment in the morning at the former Central Elementary School building, then return to the high school in the afternoon for a half-day of classes. Participants would receive academic credit for the morning treatment.

“I don’t even know if there is a program around that looks like this,” Hoffe said earlier this month at a Winona Area Public Schools Board meeting.

“It’s very creative. It’s very now. It’s very needed.”

An pilot program with six students this fall would cost the school district an estimated $25,000.

Board members have expressed support and asked to see at a future meeting how much it would cost to expand the program, called Pathways, to a larger number of students. The board is scheduled to vote on the initiative at its meeting Thursday.

 

Synthetic marijuana abuse growing, officials say


Top Photo
By Jessica Cohen

Over the last year, synthetic marijuana has become the wild card in “substance abuse cocktails” in the Port Jervis area, landing teens and adults in intensive care units for days at a time, local officials say.

The drug is a combination of herbs, spices and cannabanoids, chemically related to cannabis, according to the New York state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).

It’s commonly called K2 or Spice, among other names, and is marketed as an herbal incense, not for human consumption, but users smoke or ingest it anyway.

A recent OASAS survey of 48 substance abuse care providers statewide, covering 5,877 patients, found 22 percent of patients used synthetic marijuana.

Port Jervis police Detective Mike Worden has observed the drug’s path in Port Jervis.

“It has a much more powerful psychoactive effect than marijuana,” says Worden. “It’s also more expensive.”

Police frequently encounter users because of late-night calls complaining about loud noise, Worden says — though causes of such complaints are not limited to K2.

In pursuit of brief euphoria, users may resort to crime to get it. On Feb. 9, Worden said, a window was smashed at Jamaica Junction, a shop on Front Street. Among the items taken was K2, which was then sold legally as incense.

 

Banned but still available

Although synthetic marijuana has likely been available in the Port Jervis area before this year, the user population has now grown enough to be visible, says Richard Santiago, director of behavioral health at Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County.

Selling the substance became illegal in New York state in March by order of the state health commissioner, but Santiago says its use and purchase have continued unabated.

“Users are still getting synthetic marijuana from shops in neighborhoods,” Santiago says.

Gina Matthews, of Catholic Charities’ Port Jervis office, says users continue to come to the clinic.

Meanwhile, illicit chemists are formulating versions of synthetic marijuana that evade the laws. Since laws regarding chemicals are accompanied by chemical descriptors, says Worden, variations of chemical combinations that differ slightly from prohibited drugs may be technically legal.

“Most synthetic substances have no marijuana,” Worden says. “They’re adding all kinds of chemicals similar to cannabanoids, but more powerful. We’re seeing the consequences as a problem. Abuse is more common, but it’s hard to gauge when it’s legal.”

According to Jeffrey Hammond, spokesman for the Public Affairs Group of the New York state Department of Health, a recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that

11.4 percent of all high school students used synthetic marijuana within the past year.

 

Medical effects

Hammond said side effects include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, hallucinations and renal failure.

The Upstate New York Poison Control Center, which covers Port Jervis, has seen an upsurge in calls related to synthetic marijuana, from 10 calls in 2010 to 215 in 2011 and 122 in the first quarter of 2012. Most needed medical care.

“We see stronger responses to the drug, but everyone reacts differently,” Worden says. “It causes hallucinations. People see and hear things.”

“What happens depends on how much is used and in what combinations,” Santiago says. “The danger is also in unknown chemicals, especially mixed with other substances. You don’t know what someone’s putting together. There’s no control of quality or quantity.”

Chronic users who escape

the physical distress, hallucinations and helplessness that bring people to hospitals nevertheless show symptoms of brain function impairment typical of drug addiction — low motivation and muddled decision-making, Santiago says.

“These substances affect the brain,” Santiago says. “The part that helps make decisions about right and wrong is altered by chemical use.”

 

Prescriptions drugs still top threat

Despite the growth of synthetic cannabis, it’s still not the region’s biggest drug problem.

“Because of cost, it’s not the most common drug,” Worden says. “A three-gram package of synthetic marijuana costs $20 and makes one or two cigarettes.”

Prescription drugs are still the predominant substance abuse problem, Santiago says.

He says he recently saw a sign in his doctor’s office notifying patients that narcotic prescriptions are no longer available there; patients would need to see a specialist to get them.

Gang of drug peddlers in police net


The Dubai Police have arrested a four-member gang, which allegedly promoted restricted and banned drugs, tramadol and spice.

 

Major-General Abdul Jalil Mahdi, Director of the General department of Anti-Narcotics of the Dubai Police, said that the officials from the department managed to arrest the gang composed of two Asians and 2 AGCC nationals.

He said the gang intensified its activities in Ramadan, as they thought the police will not notice it during the holy month.

The police officer who headed the anti-drug team raided the car of one of the Asian suspects, which was parked near a supermarket in Hamdan area after receiving a tip-off that the suspects were in possession of a huge quantity of drugs.

Both the suspects, A.A. and A.M. were arrested and a large quantity of tramadol pills and money were recovered from the car. It was also confirmed through blood check that the first suspect consumed hashish and tramadol.

He confessed to the police that the drug was given to him by an AGCC national, identified as S.M.A., who asked him to promote it on commission basis.

The police set a trap and arrested S.M.A. along with the fourth suspect, 34-year-old H.M.H., who has been waiting in the car.

The police found that he had a criminal record and he masterminded the gang’s operations.

During a raid at the flat of S.M.A. in Al Warqa, large quantities of spice drug (a non-medical drug similar to hashish) and tramadol were recovered.

All the suspects were referred to the Dubai Public Prosecution, charged with possession of drug and the first suspect was additionally charged with consumption of drug. Abdul Jalil Mahdi praised the efforts of anti-narcotic team and urged the public to inform police if they have information on drug-related 
issues.

The UAE has banned the use of spice drugs and it had been included in the banned drug list under as per a Cabinet decree issued in last May.

The UAE has become the first country in the region to detect the harmful effect of the drug and to include it in the banned list.