Although synthetic drugs have been banned in Florida since 2011, last week the state banned 22 more variations.
The ban on synthetic drugs has become somewhat of a chase of cat and mouse – as each ban prompts the manufacturers to concoct some other chemical variation of the substances which are then technically legal until they become banned and the chase ensues. The newly appointed chair of the criminal justice committee Rep. Matt Gaetz, stated “There’s always an overseas chemist with a new compound that we have to later come back and ban.”
The extent of this chase is revealed in the volume of arrests since 2011. In Okaloosa County alone authorities have confiscated over $1.8 million worth of synthetic drugs along with 56 controlled buys and 22 search warrants. Pam Bondi, the Attorney General of Florida signed the emergency rule that outlawed the 22 new forms of bath salts and K2 spice, which are comprised of addictive chemicals known as cannabinoids, cathinones and phenethylamines. The ban on these substances is timely because consumers are still ending up in emergency rooms, addiction programs and mental institutions across the state and the nation.
The other emergent threat posed by these drugs is that their marketing and packaging is appealing to an even younger crowd. At first synthetic drugs appealed to teens and young adults who were able to conceal these drugs from parents as they were labeled as potpourri, incense and bath salts, “not for human consumption.” Now, they appeal to youth because they look like cotton candy and are labeled as “Scooby snacks” and available in highly accessible places like convenience stores.
After the ban last week, authorities swept the state asking convenience store owners to voluntarily turn over any synthetic drugs they had on stock. Anyone who is selling, manufacturing or delivering these drugs will face a third degree felony charge according to the emergency rule.
The frequent bans on synthetic drugs are pertinent because of the incidence of young people becoming addicted to these drugs that mimic the effects LSD, Marijuana and Methamphetamines and are easily accessible. Many say these drugs are worse than any other street drugs out there because they have had more associated incidences of severe violent acts, psychotic episodes, hallucinations, paranoia and catastrophic physical and mental damage.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Synthetic Drug abuse, Synergy group Services has addiction treatment programs in Florida that can help.