Drug Enforcement Administration

El Paso

Kyle Williamson, Special Agent in Charge

June 04, 2014

Contact: Diana Apodaca

Phone Number: (571) 324-6325

Permian Basin Law Enforcement And Medical Community Getting The Word Out On The Dangers Associated With Designer Drugs

Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy addresses the media at a press conference held at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Midland, Texas.
Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy addresses the media at a press conference held at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Midland, Texas.
Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy addresses the media at a press conference held at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Midland, Texas.

MIDLAND, Texas - Federal, state and local law enforcement and medical authorities in the Permian Basin, led by United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy, Midland County District Attorney Teresa Clingman and Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland are getting the word out about the dangers associated with synthetic cannabinoids, also known as “synthetic marijuana” and synthetic cathinones, referred to as “bath salts.”

These synthetic drugs, often referred to as designer drugs, are novel psychoactive substances clandestinely produced to mimic the effects of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA.  There is no industrial or medical use for these substances.  Clandestine chemists duplicate the technical sophistication used by the legitimate drug research community to manufacture new substances which are increasingly popular among recreational drug users.  The manufacturers and sellers of synthetic drugs often attempt to mislead users about the legality of the drugs and market the drugs to young people.

Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic marijuana, “Spice,” “K2,” or “Kush,” comprise a large family of chemically unrelated structures functionally similar to THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in organic marijuana.  When ingested, synthetic cannabinoids may produce less, equivalent or more psychoactive activity that THC, but often with pronounced and dangerous side effects.  Synthetic cannabinoid products consist of plant matter that is sprayed with a mixture of acetone and synthetic cannabinoid chemical compounds.  These chemicals are unregulated, often produced in China, and imported to the United States where they are then applied to plant matter to render them ingestible.  Generally, the product is packaged in foil baggies which falsely state that the product is “herbal incense” and “not for human consumption” in an attempt to avoid prosecution.  The product may be sold in brick or mortar “smoke shops,” convenience stores, adult bookstores, as well as, over the internet.  Synthetic cannabinoid products are marketed under many different names, including “Scooby Snax,” “Hysteria,” “Mad Monkey,” “Sexy Monkey,” and “Devil Eye.”

Synthetic cathinones, which are structurally and pharmacologically similar to amphetamine, MDMA and other related substances, are central nervous system stimulants and are sold in retail stores, on the internet, and in head shops as bath salts, plant food or jewelry cleaner.  Like the cannabinoids, the ingredients are not disclosed, the production is unregulated and there are significant batch to batch variances.

Texas poison centers report that between January 2012 and April 2014, there were 2,179 exposures to synthetic cannabinoids.  The Texas Poison Center Network warns that the alarming health effects from using these drugs include severe agitation and anxiety; racing heartbeats and high blood pressure; nausea and vomiting; muscle spasm, seizure and tremors; intense hallucinations and psychotic episodes and suicidal and other harmful thoughts and/or actions.

“DEA and our partners are making synthetic drugs a significant law enforcement priority while educating the public about the dangers of these insidious substances.  Those who abuse these designer drugs are playing Russian roulette.  Users have absolutely no idea what they are putting into their body, nor do they understand the decrepit environment in which these drugs were made in foreign labs and further prepared for sale in the U.S.,” said Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy.

The DEA El Paso Division encourages parents, and their children to visit the following interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.

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