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Even after bans, problem of synthetic drug use remains, P.1

In the last two years, there has been a rapid increase in the use of synthetic drugs which mimic the effects of street drugs like cocaine, amphetamines and other illegal stimulants.

The trend has been to sell the drugs at small, independent stores in packages advertising bath salts, incense, plant food and other common household items. Often simply termed "bath salts" by law enforcement officials across the country, the drugs have been shown to cause strange and violent behavior among users. Emergency calls related to the drugs have sharply risen in the last year, going from 304 in 2011 to 1,700 in 2012.

Synthetic drugs were first developed in European pharmaceutical research labs, though they were never intended for medical use. As law enforcement began targeting the drugs, they spread to America, where their use began to be tracked by poison control centers in 2010.

The health care industry and law enforcement across the country have attempted to control the problem. The Drug Enforcement Agency, in order to control the problem, issued a temporary ban last October of the most common of these drugs.

That ban was made permanent last month, when President Obama signed into law a bill that bans the sale, production and possession of over two dozen common synthetic drugs. The bill, however, cannot possibly keep pace with the constantly evolving chemical formulations of the synthetic drugs not covered by new laws. In total, experts say there are over 100 different variations of the drugs.

In our next, post, we'll continue looking at this topic, including how charges involving synthetic drugs can be approached from a defense perspective.

Source: Fox News, "Drugs Stay Legal After 'Bath Salts' Ban," July 26, 2012.

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