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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

DEA Bans More Synthetic Pot Chemicals

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Drug Enforcement Administration said it will classify three marijuana-like chemicals as federally controlled substances to "avoid an imminent hazard to public safety."

"Synthetic cannabinoids" are chemicals sprayed on herbs which are packaged and sold under names like "Spice" and "K2," and often marketed as "herbal incense."

Research into the drugs' effects is still developing, but the deputy administration of the DEA found there was enough information available to determine that they pose "an imminent hazard to public safety."

"Smoking mixtures of these substances for the purpose of achieving intoxication has been identified as a reason for numerous emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers," the agency wrote.

"Abuse of these synthetic cannabinoids and their products has been characterized with both acute and long term public health and safety issues. In addition, numerous states, local jurisdictions, and the international community have controlled these substances."

Among other things, synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to addiction and psychosis, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 16 cases of kidney injury in patients who had recently used the drug.

In July 2012, Congress passed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, which placed synthetic chemicals like cannabinoids and so-called "bath salts" on the list of Schedule I substances.

Last week, the DEA published a notice of intent to temporarily place three more synthetic cannabinoids on the list of controlled substances.

The chemicals, referred to as UR-144, XLR11 and AKB48, will be regulate the same as other cannabinoids.

The agency said it intends to issue a final order as soon as possible, but cannot publish it before May 13.

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