Study: Synthetic Drugs Can Have Severe Consequences

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — The drugs are fake, but their consequences can be lethal.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, the synthetic substances mimic the effects of marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs, often selling for as little as $10.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The chemical compounds are packaged as incense or bath salts, and marketed under names such as Spice, K2, Purple Wave, and Bliss.

But now, a new study shows while the substances are not the real thing, they are far from harmless. An analysis of poison control calls by the Associated Press finds at least 2,700 users have been sickened since January, compared with 3,200 for all of last year.

The effects can include seizures, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and extreme paranoia, with visions of monsters, demons and aliens.

An Iowa man blames the K2 marijuana substitute for the suicide of his 18-year-old son last year.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reported on “bath salts” last month. She found the products behind the counter in smoke shops and convenience stores all over the area, with names such as “Ricky Bobby,” “White Lady” and “TranQuility.”

“Bath salts” often contain powerful stimulants such as mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), neither of which have a history of being used as bath products.

Those who smoke bath salts or snort lines of them to get high end up suffering from “elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure; very agitated, very confused patients,” said Arthur Kubic of the Illinois Poison Control Center.

A string of states are considering bills to ban bath salts, including Illinois, where state Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) is proposing legislation.

K2, the fake marijuana substance, was banned in Illinois last year. Dr. Jerrold Leikin, a toxicology expert with NorthShore University HealthSystem, told CBS 2 last year that K2 might be five to 10 times more potent than real marijuana.

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