Since 2008, designer drugs like synthetic marijuana and bath salts have become a growing problem in the United States and are prevalent in Collier County. These drugs are marketed toward young people as a “legal” high. The products are labeled “not for human consumption” to mask their intended purpose and avoid FDA regulatory oversight of the manufacturing process. Over the past few years, lawmakers have attempted to change drug laws with the intent of banning the substances, but manufacturers respond quickly by altering the chemical makeup of the drugs, effectively skirting the law.
Tests for the substances remain limited at best, usually only able to detect a small number of the most popular strands – only 5 out of 400 compounds are currently illegal. That makes the designer drugs popular with people who are expecting to be drug tested. This was eye opening for David Lawrence Centers, when the first drug tests became available in 2010, nearly all participants in the Drug Court program tested positive.
Synthetic marijuana and bath salts products are sold in local stores in pack¬ages labeled as plant food, stain remover, or herbal potpourri under brands like K2, Spice, Jazz or Mr. Nice Guy for as little as $12.99 per packet. Synthetic marijuana consists of plant material that has been laced with substances that mimic THC. Synthetic marijuana is the second most commonly used illicit drug among high school seniors. Nationally, calls to poison control centers have doubled in the last year. At DLC, eight out of every 10 children being treated for substance use reports they have tried synthetic marijuana.
Bath salts are meant to mimic cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. At David Lawrence Centers, one out of every 20 children being treated for substance use reports they have tried bath salts.