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Synthetic Drug Makers Have Been Step Ahead Of Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) For Years—Cooking Up New Chemicals As Old Ones Are Made Illegal; Schumer’s Legislation Would Make 22 Chemicals—Including Powerful Variants of Fentanyl—Illegal, Allowing Feds To Play Essential Catch Up

Despite State Laws, ‘K2’ & Other Dangerous Synthetics Still Find Their Way Into Cities Because Lack Of Federal Solution; ‘Zombie’ Side Effects Of Chemicals Just Landed Over 100 In NYC ER This Past Week & Are Sign Of What’s To Come If Congress Doesn’t Act 

Schumer: We Need A Federal Hammer To Nail ‘K2’ & Other Deadly Synthetic Drugs Before Things Get Worse  

Following 130 suspected overdoses on synthetic drugs in New York City this past week, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, announced new legislation that would make nearly two dozen synthetic substances, including dangerous forms of fentanyl, illegal, Schedule I drugs. Schumer said that synthetic drugs—sold under names like “K2” and “spice”—are often made to seem inviting and harmless, however, they are dangerous chemical concoctions that falsely advertise to users, especially young people, sometimes inducing zombie-like symptoms – and worse.

“New York’s most recent K2 binge that left our ER’s bulging and streets strewn with stupefied users with zombie-like symptoms are a sign of what’s to come if Congress doesn’t act quickly,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We need a federal hammer to nail these toxic concoctions of synthetic drugs before things get worse. This federal legislation will ban 22 synthetic drugs, including powerful forms of fentanyl, crippling the unlawful chemists cooking up these drugs and the cartels that push them to our local stores and streets. Banning these drugs quickly will help the feds step up their game of whack-a-mole so that we can help stem the tide of synthetic drug use here in New York City and across the country.”

This past week, at least 130 individuals in Brooklyn were hospitalized after overdosing on K2, according to reports. Despite efforts to limit synthetic drugs, synthetic marijuana and other hazardous drug-like products continue to be sold at local bodegas or on the internet. Schumer is urging Congress to pass the“Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2016,” saying it will reduce the availability of the synthetic drugs chemists use to make K2 and other dangerous synthetics.  

Synthetic drugs are often a toxic combination of chemicals made to mimic 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, synthetic drugs can be extremely dangerous and addictive with health effects ranging from fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, seizures, intense hallucinations, psychotic episodes and suicidal thoughts. According to the CDC, chronic uses can lead to psychosis. A new CDC report released on July 15th says that synthetic cannabinoids are two to 100 times more potent that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

This past week, at least 130 individuals were hospitalized in the pan of just a few days after allegedly overdosing on the synthetic drug, K2. Media reports described the individuals as lethargic, erratic, and taking on a zombie-like state. According to New York City, since 2015, there have been more than 6,000 synthetic drug-related emergency department visits in the city and two confirmed deaths caused by K2. In fact, the CDC found that, between 2010-2015, the annual percentage of synthetic marijuana cases increased in all four U.S. Census regions and the largest overall increases happened in the Northeast, primarily driven by the increases in New York City. According to a June 2016 statement by the Director of National Drug Control Policy, there has been a 95% increase in phone calls to poison control centers across the United States related to synthetic drugs, with over 8,000 calls in 2015 alone. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, as of June 30th, poison centers nationwide received reports of 1,462 exposures to synthetic cannabinoids this year.

Schumer’s legislation, “Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2016,” (S.3224) adds 22 synthetic substances to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Eleven of these substances are synthetic cannabinoids, often marketed as K2 or Spice. These substances are usually misleadingly referred to as synthetic marijuana, because they are designed to mimic the effects of THC.  However, Schumer said the side effects of these chemicals are far more dangerous. Three of these substances are derivatives of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid estimated to be 100 times more powerful than morphine.  Fentanyl and its derivatives have been associated with numerous overdoses in recent years.  The DEA has temporarily scheduled seven of the 22 substances as imminent hazards to the public safety.  However, Schumer explained that, further action must be taken to permanently protect the public and that’s why Congress should pass this bill.

Schumer has long supported measures to crackdown on synthetic marijuana use across the country. Schumer explained that, between the years 2009 and 2012, synthetic drug abuse was on the rise. In response, Schumer fought hard in Congress to pass the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 that banned many forms of these chemicals and enhanced DEA authority to ban new ones that emerge. As part of the legislation, Congress used its legislative authority to place over 20 chemical compounds that had been used in synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the classification for the most dangerous drugs. The legislation gave the DEA enhanced authority to temporarily place uncontrolled substances that pose an imminent hazard to public safety, like these synthetic chemicals, into Schedule I of the CSA.