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Law Enforcement Concerned Over New Synthetic Drug

Many people will recall the growing concern over synthetic drugs last year. Synthetic marijuana became national news after people who used the synthetic drug were hospitalized across the nation. In response, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is working to ban synthetic marijuana.

Now it seems the DEA has another synthetic drug to worry about: fake cocaine. As with synthetic marijuana, there have been reports of youths being hospitalized for using fake cocaine. Will the DEA try to ban this synthetic substance as well? Will using fake cocaine warrant the same penalties as other drug offenses?

Users are buying bottles of bath salts specially manufactured to look like regular bath salts, but are actually bottles of synthetic cocaine. The chemical MDPV found in bath salts is what users are getting high on. The chemical acts as a stimulant and reportedly causes euphoria that can turn into paranoia and panic attacks.

In some of the more extreme cases, users suffer from heart problems and psychosis. There have been two reports of suicides linked to synthetic cocaine. The American Association of Poison Control has reported over 200 calls related to bath salt abuse last year.

Though the DEA has not announced a ban on fake cocaine, several states have already taken steps to ban MDPV. Local law enforcement believes that this type of synthetic drug is more dangerous because it is readily available. Teens can use it and easily hide it from their parents.

Currently a majority of the reported use has been in Louisiana. But if the DEA bans synthetic marijuana, fake cocaine may take its place as the synthetic drug of choice. There is no information provided on how federal prosecutors will handle synthetic cocaine cases.

Source: The Sacramento Bee online, "Bath salts misused as 'fake cocaine' send users to hospitals," Alexia Campbell, 18 January 2011

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