Massachusetts is fairly lenient state it comes to marijuana. Though full legalization of marijuana has yet to come to our state, a 2008 law decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, and a 2012 initiative eliminated penalties for medical use and possession of a 60-day supply of marijuana for individuals with state-issued cards.
Our state isn’t so flexible when it comes to synthetic marijuana, however. Massachusetts might soon be among the states that have banned synthetic marijuana.
Last month, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration proved its commitment to cracking down on synthetic drugs.
As we’ve explained in the past, though some forms of synthetic drug are technically legal due to manufacturers finding loopholes in current drug laws, synthetic drugs are very harmful substances that can even prove fatal. K2, spice, and bath salts are just a few of the names these drugs go by — and you can find them in regular retail stores.
Here’s more on the DEA’s recent crackdown and its impact on the synthetic drug industry.
Boston lawmakers are working on a new bill that seeks to improve the drug treatment availability for addicts.
Currently, many drug users are being denied the addiction treatment that they want and need to resume a normal, functional lifestyle. They tell the hospital which insurance company they have, and they are denied addiction treatment on the spot as the hospital knows that their insurance company will not cover the drug treatment. This bill is designed to change that.
The K2 package says that it is herbal incense. Do not consume is clearly stated on the package. Before becoming illegal, K2 was sold in smoke shops and online, but not to be used as synthetic marijuana.
The use of K2 was so high that The Synthetic Drug Prevention Act of 2012 banned sales of K2 and five chemicals that are used to make it: JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47, 496 and cannabicyclohexanol. JWH stands for John W. Huffman, the chemist who created the herbal incense. He claims that these chemicals were primarily used as research tools.
So, why is it a recreational drug, and what caused it to become illegal?
K2’s compound is similar in structure and function to tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana.
“You can get very high on it. It’s about 10 times more active than THC (tetrahydrocannabinol),” said its creator, organic chemist John W. Huffman of Clemson University, in an interview with LiveScience.
The effects of THC can be tiredness, relaxation and reduced blood pressure. When smoked at high doses, the individual experiences hallucinations, increased blood pressure and rapid heart rate.
There are frightening reports of users who used K2 recreationally. According to K2info.org, there have been confirmed reports of hyperventilation, kidney failure, heart attack, nausea/vomiting, high rates of addiction, severe paranoia, and more.
Dr. Anthony Scalzo, professor of toxicology at St. Louis University, and J.W. Huffman both agree that the drug is dangerous, according to LiveScience. Huffman also stated,
“It’s like playing Russian roulette. You don’t know what it’s going to do to you.” Huffman believes K2 was first smoked or used as a recreational drug somewhere in Europe.
Other names for K2 include Spice, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie and Zohai.
Unfortunately, we cannot stop the use of K2, although it has been made illegal. Luckily, ARCpoint labs of Worcester is now offering K2 testing, since standard drug tests do not detect synthetic drugs, such as K2. Please visit our website for more information on our K2 drug testing and any other drug testing services.
So we’re torn with some news in “drug testing world.” We saw an article today about an Ohio high school sending free drug testing kits home so that parents can test their teens. The article quotes a principal stating that these kits in themselves might even act as a deterrent or excuse for teens who want to say no to drug use. On one hand, we were thrilled. And then seconds later, we were not so thrilled. What we think it ultimately boils down to is that drugs and drug testing – especially among teens – just isn’t all that simple.
Why we’re FOR drug testing kids for teens
So upon an initial read-through, we were all for this idea. A few thoughts were:
- Parents now have a very real way to show kids they are involved and watching them.
- Having a drug testing kit at home may deter a teen’s drug use.
- Teens do have a convenient excuse now (as stated by the principal) to say no to drugs.
- Parents who have a kit make a statement that drug use is NOT acceptable.
- The school district partners with families to keep their homes and the school safe.
Now those seem like great reasons to send at-home drug testing kits to parents. Right? But as a professional drug-testing facility, we started to have concerns as we thought about it more.
Why we’re NOT FOR the at-home drug test kits
In the end, it’s not a matter of drug testing teens - we’re actually all for that. What bothers us the most is the dependence on the at-home kits. As a center that has performed hundreds of drug tests for both teens and adults, we’re not sold on these cheap at-home kits. Here’s why:
- Cheating. Yes, there are ways to cheat a drug test. But, when they’re performed under surveillance of professionals (vs. inexperienced parents), the likelihood of a false test is greatly reduced. The at-home kits may encourage kids to find a way to cheat the test whereas if they knew they were going to a professional center where you can’t get away with cheating – they might take it more seriously.
- Use of the test. So the basic use of the test – determining if the kids do drugs or not – can certainly be done. However if in any case this test needs used in court or for other legal reasons – you’ll have to get a professional test anyway. We always recommend having legally-admissible tests run so that you can use the results anytime – you never know what is going to come up when you need them.
- Is it testing the right drugs? Typically, 5-panel drug tests only check for “traditional” drugs. So if your teen is using pot, it should catch that. But what if your teen is using fake pot or bath salts? These synthetic drugs are not detectable on the basic drug tests – you need a different test for that. Professional drug testing locations like ARCpoint Labs can test it for you. Your at-home kit most likely cannot.
Drug testing for teens
So, are we advocates of drug testing for teens? Absolutely. Letting your teens know that you’re willing to drug test as a parent IS a great way to build in accountability. It shows you’re serious and that your expectation is that they avoid drugs. However – our recommendation would be to depend on the pros if you’re serious about running a drug test and using the results for discipline or further action. We wouldn’t make any decisions based on what a free drug test kit determines. We’d go for a professional report to have accurate, reliable results.
Questions? Need to drug test your teen and near Worcester? Come on in.
We’ve visited the topic of synthetic drugs in the past but they continue to be a challenge for business owners and managers. Because these legal herbal substances mimic some of the same effects as real drugs, if you are a business owner, testing your employees for snythetic drugs can help you produce a safer work environment.
What are Synthetic Drugs?
The most popular of all the synthetic drugs are the ones that mirror marijuana. Basically, natural herbal mixtures are created by companies and then sprayed with a chemical. The most common synthetic drugs out there are called K2 and Spice which is publicized as being similar to marijuana, but completely safe. The key word is publicized. In reality some of the effects of these drugs have been deadly, especially for younger adults and adlolecents.
The real problem is that using the substance can become addictive, and with anything addictive, an overdose can happen very easily.
A Gateway Drug
Because snythetic drugs are dangerous and could be dangerous many states have banned them all together. The possibilities for harm have caused the Drug Enforcement Administration to extend a ban on some of the top synthetic drugs, mainly the ones resembling marijuana.
Since any drug can be addictive, making products that closely resemble drugs can lead people to want to try the real thing. Adolecnts are especially at risk for using a “legal” herb and then wanting to try the real thing. Using a snythetic drug can create a serious addiction to a real drug that can effect a person’s everyday life.
Even if you you do not think that you have any employees using synthetic drugs, it doesn’t hurt to have a random synthetic drug test done for your business. The benefits of testing far out weigh not finding the problem in the first place.
As a business owner you want your employees to function at their highest potential. When an employee is using synthetic drugs, their ability to perform well can be significantly lowered. Synthetic drugs have been reported to have negative side effects. These side effects could include, but are not limited to:
- Increased heart rates
- Nausea and vomiting
Threat to Co-Workers
When one person is slacking on their job, the moral between co-workers is definitely lowered. Co-workers then have to pick up the slack for the person who is not performing well. When low moral and extra work become a norm at your business, people begin to burn out quickly.
Using a synthetic drug during the work day can also create an unsafe environment. If an employee is disoriented he could greatly injure himself or a fellow employee.
If you think someone at your business is using a synthetic drug find a drug testing facility in your area. At ARCpoint labs in Worcester, we have a drug test specifically for K2 and similar synthetic products. Our labs can come to you or you can send your employees to our testing facilities. Keep your work place safe by having your employees tested for synthetic drug use.
The drug marketplace works very similarly to the technology marketplace. Every day, there is something new, and changes that are nearly impossible to keep up with. One of fastest growing markets among drug users is synthetic drugs. Popular among teens and those who “play it safe,” so to say – synthetics are appealing to those who want to legally purchase drugs and get an intense high, without having to mess with a dealer or traditional routes of obtaining drugs.
What are synthetic drugs?
Synthetic drugs are sold under the guise of “bath salts,” “fake pot” or “fake cocaine.” Stores also label synthetic drugs as “herbal smoking blends.” These drugs are sold in head shops around the country – you know, those supposedly “innocent” stores that happen to have candles and hemp lining the shelves with special “pipes” in the glass case near the checkout. Bath salts and packets of synthetic drugs are sold off retail shelves, just like milk and bread, yet have a major impact on the health of our nation, and particularly our teens.
Why are synthetic drugs harmful?
Individuals turn to synthetic drugs because they are easy to obtain. As of right now, they’re perfectly legal to sell in the USA (under Federal law; several states have outlawed them.) Plus, they’re known to produce a high that is even stronger than “traditional” drugs. Even though the DEA has outlawed synthetic drug compounds (like K2 – fake pot), manufacturers are smart and find new ways and new compounds to continue the drug production. And although states may outlaw synthetics, the drugs are still sold online. While synthetic drugs may be easier to obtain, their danger actually runs higher than “traditional” drugs, as many have wound up in the ER with seizures, paranoia, and even fatalities after use.
Your employees and synthetic drugs.
- THC (Marijuana)
Because synthetic drugs are produced out of materials not detectable on a standard drug test, unique testing methods are required, like a drug test specifically for synthetic drugs. This test can determine if an individual is getting high on synthetic compounds like K2, Spice, Red Dragon, Serenity (among other names.)
The best way to determine if an individual is using synthetic drugs is to request a test specifically designed for synthetic drugs. This will test the urine, and return results in up to 10 days. If your employee is using synthetic drugs, it’s not impossible to prove; it just takes a different approach to testing. But, sticking with your drug-free policy will be important for the health and safety of your business, and your employees.