So-called synthetic marijuana is a drug that is manufactured domestically and overseas and mimics the effects of marijuana when smoked. The drug was completely legal until the Drug Enforcement Agency classified it under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in March 2011. Since then, the drug’s availability has decreased, but the drug continues to be sold at thousands of locations across the country. Earlier this month, DEA agents launched a nationwide crackdown on that drug’s distributors and vendors.
Synthetic marijuana, most commonly sold under brands such as K2 and Spice, contains a synthetic substance mixed with plant material. When smoked, the drug produces similar affects to marijuana, such as euphoria and laughter.
In early May the DEA launched a crackdown on the drug’s manufacturers and vendors in 29 states. The raids involved over 45 DEA agents and almost 200 search warrants. The raids netted over 150 arrests, $20 million in cash and assets, and hundreds of kilograms of the raw drug. The operation also led agents to a man who had wired over $20 million to Yemen, and is suspected to have sold the drug in order to finance suspected terrorist activities.
Authorities say many users of synthetic marijuana consider it to be safer than the real thing, but this is not in fact the case. Because the government does not regulate the synthetic substance, end users have no guarantee as to the quality or purity of the synthetic drug.
Additionally, as with marijuana itself, federal authorities have not issued any usage or dosage guidelines for synthetic pot, meaning that users face potential overdose risks.
In fact, one of the suppliers targeted in the recent raids operated out of Dallas, Texas. Authorities believe that this supplier sold drugs that were responsible for 120 recent overdoses in Austin and Dallas.