In an effort to further crack down on synthetic drugs, the federal government announced this week it is outlawing three more synthetic marijuana substances. The substances have been designated as Schedule I drugs, which creates criminal penalties for anyone who is caught selling or possessing them, The Hill reports.
Synthetic marijuana, sold under names including Spice and K2, first became available in the United States about five years ago, the article notes.
“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 Justice Department stated. “Abuse of these synthetic cannabinoids and their products has been characterized with both acute and long term public health and safety issues.” These include vomiting, anxiety, agitation, irritability, seizures, hallucinations, fast heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
The Justice Department noted that since people using these drugs obtain them from unknown sources, the purity of these drugs is uncertain, “thus posing significant adverse health risk to these users.” In many cases, synthetic marijuana can be stronger than the naturally grown drug.
In 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported receiving more than 5,200 calls relating to products purportedly laced with synthetic marijuana.