Information on K-2 and Bath Salts

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Synthetic or Designer Drugs

Designer drugs are drugs that are created  to avoid the provisions of existing drug laws, usually by preparing analogs or derivatives of existing drugs by modifying their chemical structure to varying degrees,or less commonly by finding drugs with entirely different chemical structures that produce similar subjective effects to illegal recreational drugs.

Synthetic marijuana (often known as “K2” or “Spice”) is often sold in legal retail outlets as “herbal incense” and labeled “not for human consumption” to mask its intended purpose and avoid FDA regulatory oversight of the manufacturing process.

Synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered substances similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the active ingredient in marijuana. When smoked or ingested, synthetic cannabinoids can produce a high similar to marijuana. Initially developed for pain management research and the effects of cannabis on the brain, these substances have recently become a popular alternative to marijuana. 

Safety considerations documented in Wikipedia: No official studies have been conducted on its effects on humans. Though its effects are not well-documented, extremely large doses may cause negative effects that are in general not noted in cannabis users, such as increased agitation and vomiting.Professor John W. Huffman, who first synthesized many of the cannabinoids used in synthetic cannabis, is quoted as saying, "People who use it are idiots, and you don't know what it's going to do to you."A user who consumed 3 g of Spice Gold every day for several months showed withdrawal symptoms, similar to those associated with withdrawing from the use of narcotics. Doctors treating the user also noted that his use of the product showed signs associated with addiction. One case has been reported wherein a user, who had previously suffered from cannabis-induced recurrent psychotic episodes, suffered reactivation of his symptoms after using Spice. Psychiatrists treating him have suggested that the lack of an antipsychotic chemical, similar to cannabidiol found in natural cannabis, may make synthetic cannabis more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis.

Studies suggest an association between synthetic cannabinoids and psychosis. Physicians should be aware that the use of synthetic cannabinoids can be associated with psychosis and investigate possible use of synthetic cannabinoids in patients with inexplicable psychotic symptoms. Also, people with risk factors for psychosis should be counseled against using synthetic cannabinoids.

The less desirable effects of synthetic marijuana include agitation, extreme nervousness, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia (fast, racing heartbeat), elevated blood pressure, tremors and seizures, hallucinations, and dilated pupils.  

Use of synthetic marijuana is alarmingly high. According to data from the 2011 Monitoring the Future survey of youth drug-use trends, 11.4 percent of 12th graders used Spice or K2 in the past year, making it the second most commonly used illicit drug among seniors.

Substituted Cathinones (a.k.a. "Bath Salts")

“Bath salts,” are derivatives of cathinone.  Cathinone is found in the shrub Catha edulis (khat). The four most widely recognized substituted cathinones are mephedrone, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) a psychoactive drug with stimulant properties which acts as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), methylone and methedrone.  Bath salts comes in the form of tablets or a powder, which users can swallow, snort or inject, producing similar effects to MDMA, amphetamines, and cocaine.

Similar to the adverse effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine, bath salt use is associated with increased heart rate and blood pressure, extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behavior, which may cause users to harm themselves or others.

Doctors worry that users who repeatedly abuse bath salts could suffer long-term damage.

Alex Seaton is haunted by that idea. Sitting in the Washington County jail, Seaton said voices were still speaking to him 10 weeks after an arrest ended his binge of bath salt use this summer.

"I'm definitely hearing stuff," he said in August, sitting in a jail visiting room with a robe hanging from his thin frame.

Seaton, 19, said he had done various drugs in the past few years, but switched to bath salts because they were legal at the time. He needed to pass drug screenings as he searched for a job, he said.

At first, Seaton said, bath salts made him feel good and talkative. The more he and a friend snorted, the worse things got.

He began thinking the government spoke to him through audio speakers. He saw shadow people. He couldn't stop taking the drugs, constantly thinking, "I wanted more, more, more, more, more," he said. Seaton snorted them in heavy doses for a couple of months and wound up in the psychiatric unit of a hospital.

His older brother, Nick Seaton, saw the change in Alex: "It seems like the bath salts specifically put him over the edge."

The low point came when Seaton's parents were away this summer. He broke into their Cottage Grove house and surrounded himself with loaded guns, according to court documents. Witnesses heard shots one afternoon. Seaton told officers that "voices" made him do it to prevent an alien invasion.

“This stuff is definitely screwing my head," Seaton said during the interview at the county jail, his eyes wide under a mop of shaggy brown hair. "I've never heard voices in my freakin' life until this bath salt." (Louwagie, P 2011)

The Federal Government (July 2012) has banned the sale of these drugs.