WASHINGTON (CN) - The Drug Enforcement Agency plans to control four types of synthetic cannabinoids temporarily, while a regulation to place them on the Schedule I list is completed. If placed on the list, they would join more than a dozen others already there.
The DEA puts substances on Schedule I when it has found they have a high potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use. The attorney general has the authority to temporarily place a substance into Schedule I for up to two years if it is seen as a hazard to public safety.
Synthetic cannabinoids are biologically similar to THC, the main active ingredient in marijuana. Users of the drug have suffered mental problems, the inability to stand, foaming at the mouth, violent episodes, the inability to breathe on their own, hallucinations and psychotic episodes, according to the proposal. There have been at least five deaths linked to one particular cannabinoid, the action states. Also, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 2,400 calls in 2013 regarding exposures to products purportedly containing synthetic cannabinoids, according to the proposal.
Synthetic cannabinoids are generally distributed as herbal incense products with names like "Spice," "Blaze," "Skunk" and "Genie," and sold over the Internet to mostly teens and adolescents, the action states. Most current drug tests are unable to detect the substances, it continues.
The drugs were originally created as research tools, and seem to have appeared in the United States in herbal incense products in 2008, the proposal states. The vast majority of synthetic cannabinoids are made in Asia by individuals not working with manufacturing or quality control standards, the action continues.
The DEA says the rule to put the substances onto Schedule I may not be effective before Feb. 10.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.