Synthetic Cannabinoids

U.S. Senate Hearing on Synthetic Drugs Offers Failed Drug War Policies of the Past
Knee-Jerk Prohibition of New Drugs Out-of-Step With Momentum for Sentencing and Drug Policy Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control will hear testimony Wednesday from the Drug Enforcement Administration and other government witnesses concerning the control of “K2,” “bath salts” and other synthetic drugs. Although Congress banned more than two dozen synthetic drugs in 2012, dozens of new synthetic drugs are being made available for sale across the country. Wednesday’s Senate hearing will be co-chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who recently introduced legislation in the Senate with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) that would broaden the prohibition on synthetic drugs. “Senators Feinstein and Schumer should know from decades of enforcing punitive drug sentencing laws that banning more synthetic drugs won’t impact demand and it certainly won’t address the fact that this drug market will remain accessible to anyone who wants in,” said Grant Smith, policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “It is a shame that Senators Feinstein and Schumer missed recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on mandatory minimum sentencing laws and the state-level regulation of marijuana. Both of these hearings illustrated how the U.S. Department of Justice and a growing number of lawmakers are responding to public demands for a new approach to dealing with drugs,” continued

British Nationals Jailed in Dubai for 4 Years Over Synthetic Marijuana

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- Three British nationals were sentenced to four years in jail on drugs charges in Dubai on Monday, a day after the British prime minister expressed concern about allegations that they had been tortured. Grant Cameron, Karl Williams and Suneet Jeerh were arrested in July 2012 during a holiday in the United Arab Emirates. Police said they had found a form of synthetic cannabis in their hire car. All three men pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of illegal drugs and said police had subjected them to beatings and threatened them with guns - allegations the police deny. British premier Cameron commented on the case on Sunday, before a visit by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan who is due to arrive in Britain on Tuesday. In a letter to Reprieve, a London-based legal charity which campaigns for prisoner rights, he said Britain had repeatedly raised concerns about the torture allegations with the UAE, saying the authorities' failure to organize a full medical examination of the men was worrisome. "We continue to press for evidence of a full, impartial and independent investigation," Cameron wrote. Judge Ali Attiyah Saad sentenced the Britons to four years in jail each at Dubai Criminal

Study: Consumers Prefer Natural Cannabis Over Synthetic 'Marijuana' Herbal Products

LONDON -- Consumers strongly prefer organic cannabis to retail herbal products that contain synthetic cannabinoid agonists, according to survey data published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Investigators at Kings College in London surveyed some 15,000 subjects regarding their use of cannabis and/or herbal synthetic products, marketed under trade names like Spice and K2. Of the respondents reporting past experience with synthetic retail products, 99 percent also reported having consumed organic cannabis. Authors found: "Synthetic cannabis reportedly had both a shorter duration of action and quicker time to peak onset of effect than natural cannabis. Natural cannabis was preferred to synthetic cannabis by 93 percent of users, with natural cannabis rated as having greater pleasurable effects when high and being more able to function after use. Synthetic cannabis was associated with more negative effects, hangover effects and greater paranoia." Authors concluded: "Users report a strong preference for natural over synthetic cannabis. The latter has a less desirable effect profile." In March 2011, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercised its 'emergency scheduling authority' to criminally prohibit the possession and sale of several of the synthetic cannabinoid agonists contained in retail products such as Spice. Following the enactment of the ban, the scientists responsible for creating the agonists acknowledged, "[M]arijuana

Synthetic THC Analogue Mitigates Diabetic Neuropathy, Is ‘Well Tolerated’ In Patients

CALGARY, AB -- The oral administration of the synthetic THC analogue nabilone (brand name: Cesamet) mitigates neuropathic pain and is well tolerated, according to clinical trial data published online by the scientific journal Pain. Investigators at the University of Calgary, Department of Neurosciences assessed the use of nabilone versus placebo in patients with diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain) in a randomize, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Researchers administered daily oral doses of nabilone to 37 participants in combination with their existing medications for a period of four weeks. Twenty-six of the initial 37 subjects achieved pain relief greater than 30 percent during this period. Those subjects who responded favorably to nabilone treatment continued to receive either treatment or placebo for an additional five-week period. Researchers reported that nabilone treatment of 2.9mg per day significantly reduced subjects' pain compared to placebo, as well as participants' level of anxiety. Improved sleep and patients' overall quality of life was also positively associated with naboline treatment. Authors concluded: "[N]abilone ... was effective in relieving diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain (DPN) symptoms, improving disturbed sleep, quality of life, and overall patient status. Nabilone was well tolerated and successful as adjuvant in patients with DPN." Neuropathy is a difficult to

DEA Starts Nationwide Crackdown on Synthetic Marijuana

WASHINGTON, DC -- More than 90 people in 31 states were arrested as the Drug Enforcement Administration began a nationwide crackdown on synthetic marijuana this week. Agents seized over 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. "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 Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, 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 over 100 U.S. cities, targeting every level of the synthetic designer drug industry, including retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. 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

Obama Signs Synthetic Drug Ban Bill

WASHINGTON, DC -- President Barack Obama Monday signed into law a bill banning the synthetic drugs known popularly as "bath salts" and "fake weed." The language barring the substances was inserted into the Food and Drug Administration safety bill passed last month by the Congress. The bill targets 31 specific synthetic stimulant, cannabinoid, and hallucinogenic compounds. Marketed under brand names like K2 and Spice for synthetic cannabinoids and under names like Ivory Wave, among others, for synthetic stimulants, the drugs have become increasingly popular in recent years. With their rising popularity came rising reports of emergency room visits and poison control center calls attributed to the drugs. Synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to symptoms similar to those suffered by people who sought medical help after smoking marijuana, while the adverse reactions reported by "bath salts" users have been more serious. More than half the states and numerous localities have moved to ban some of these new synthetics, and the DEA placed both groups of substances under an emergency ban until Congress acted. Congressional advocates of the prohibitionist approach to new synthetics were pleased. "President Obama's swift approval of this federal ban is the final nail in the coffin for the legal sale of bath salts

US Senate Passes Synthetic Drug Ban, Without Mandatory Minimums

The Senate has passed House Resolution 1254, the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, which would federally criminalize the possession, distribution, and manufacture of synthetic cannabinoids ("fake marijuana") and synthetic stimulants ("bath salts"). The measure has already passed the House, and President Obama is expected to quickly sign it into law. The synthetic cannabinoids are marketed as "herbal incense" and sold under brand names such as K2 and Spice, while the synthetic stimulants are marketed as "bath salts" and sold under a variety of names, including Ivory Wave and Vanilla Sky. Poison control centers and emergency rooms around the country have reported a sharp increase in synthetic drug incidents in the past two years, with Spice users reporting adverse effects similar to those sometimes reported with marijuana, while bath salts users have suffered more serious adverse effects, including hallucinations, psychotic breaks, and death. Fake pot or bath salts or both are already banned in a number of states, and more states are considering criminalizing them. Both types of drugs have already been subject to emergency bans by the DEA while its legislatively mandated process for evaluating new drugs proceeds. A widely publicized incident over the weekend in which a man chewed off