DEA targets synthetic marijuana

M arijuana is illegal , but some are finding a legal way to get high through a synthetic version. T he Drug Enforcement Administration is stepping in and banning chemicals used in herbal incense that mimic the effects of marijuana.

S ynthetic marijuana is sold under many brand names like Happy Shaman, K2, and Spice at tobacco shops, on-line and even gas stations. The products are banned in 13 states but its popularity in our area is increasing.

A t Purple Haze in Myrtle Beach you can find a variety of herbal incense for sale: from pink tiger to bubble gum to cotton candy. The package specifically says it's not for human consumption but Brian Booth with Shoreline Behavioral Health Services says the warning label is being ignored and could endanger the users health.

" T his synthetic marijuana chemical that's being sprayed on top of this incense potpourri us about the only thing we know is in there anything else who knows , " said Booth.

F ive chemicals that give products like Happy Shaman it's appeal are under scrutiny.

T he DEA has reclassified them as schedule one for a year. "They've placed it in a category right alongside heroin, right alongside marijuana, right alongside ecstasy or other club drugs. in other words there are no medical uses for this," added Booth.

R ight now stores like Purple Haze aren't breaking rules.

T he management issued a statement saying " P eople are very creative and find alternative uses to many products on the market. People sniff glue and even go as far as making illegal drugs using over the counter legal substances. We, as a business, are simply here to cater to demand by supplying the best of products. We've had no complaints as to misuse of this product and in fact completely refuse customers who declare their intentions of misusing it."

" T his ban on the five chemicals seems like a step in the right direction but it very well may not be the end of all of this," said Booth.

M anagement at Purple Haze agrees. They're already getting calls about other herbal incense that would not be subject to the new ban by the DEA.

B ecause of the ruling they will take the affected product off its store shelves later this month.

December 5, 2010