Montana Health News

Mar 2, 2011 9:28 PM by Irina Cates (KPAX News)

Some synthetic pot illegal, similar product still available

MISSOULA - The sale and possession of synthetic marijuana brands called Spice and K-2 were made illegal by the Drug Enforcement Administration, effective this week. The drugs are at least 100 times more powerful than marijuana and could be fatal.

"It hits you a lot quicker than most any drug that I've seen, maybe short of Crack Cocaine, but as soon as you smoke this, within 20 seconds, 30 seconds you are messed up," explained Montana Division of Criminal Investigation Narcotics Chief Mark Long.

He added that while Spice and Salvia mimic the effects of marijuana, this drug is sometimes 10, 50 to 100 times as powerful.

"There've been some studies that show some of the synthetic marijuana products can have as much as 800 times the effect," says Long. "they're led to believe that it's just fake marijuana and that it will have the same effects that smoking a joint does. When in fact it's much more powerful and has a lot of different side affects-there are death that are caused from it."

Until the Drug Enforcement Administration made this product illegal, it was sold in places like smoke shops and convenience stores across Montana as well as across the rest of the nation. Teenagers could also buy this substance, and since it was marketed as incense, it was legal. "Essentially like buying bubble gum. Wherever you can find it, you can buy it," Long said.

"A lot of this K-2 and Spice packaging contains things such as this is herbal incense, it's not intended for human consumption and stuff like that, we know that's B.S., that's not true, it's not herbal incense. It's totally manufactured for people to smoke," commented Drug Enforcement Administration Spokesperson Rusty Payne.

Spice is a chemical sprayed onto any legal herb and the DEA made five chemicals used to make the so-called "fake pot" illegal.

"What we're going to do now is we're going to research these chemicals further to determine their harm to the user, their potential for addiction, their availability and their use in treatment," Payne said.

Now if anyone comes up with a new, similar chemical to the five made illegal by the federal government then the offender can be prosecuted as if the new chemical are a controlled substance. However, other synthetic marijuana brands such as Salvia, which has effects similar to Spice and K-2, is not under the same guidelines at this time.

"Salvia is in the research phase right now and these research phases can last anywhere from months to years. We've been researching Salvia for a long time, but we have not acted on Salvia issue," Payne explained.

The side-effects of synthetic marijuana includes seizure, hallucinations, and paranoia. Officials say that the product is also driving up the number of people who call poison control or come to the emergency room for treatment from its effects.

Montana is currently working on banning all variation of synthetic marijuana, including Salvia.

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