DEA takes action against synthetic pot tied to deaths

As marijuana moves towards legalization throughout the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration took action this week against the dangerous designer products pretending to be a pot substitute — called cannabinoids —  sold at some gas stations, convenience stores and head shops.

Drugs that mimic the natural plant of marijuana have been popping up in the last decade under the brand names Spice, K2 and a dozen others.  Now the DEA has temporarily added six more analogs of the THC – the drug found naturally in pot — to Schedule I list, which includes heroin.

While nobody has ever died from using marijuana, not so with the synthetic impostors.

One of the new banned substances, MDMB-CHMICA, is believed to have attributed to 42 overdoses and 29 deaths in Europe. Another, ADB–FUBINACA, is found in K2.

Synthetic marijuana is akin to the bath salts that have caused so much havoc, a chemical goop cooked up in labs. The Palm Beach Post took a look at bath salts last year. Read the story by clicking here.

Synthetic pot is sold at gas stations, convenience stores and head shops. (Photo: New York Department of Health)

The major concern is these substances are being targeted to adolescents. The DEA said it is not aware of any currently accepted medical uses for these substances in the United States.

Synthetic cannabis was developed to assist in the research of AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy, resulting in 450 synthetic cannabinoid compounds, according to The Daily Beast.

The pro-pot website, Herb, praised the DEA for its move, saying the hundreds of synthetics that act on the same receptors in the brain as natural marijuana are not equal because they affect the brain in different ways.

“This makes their potency range from tens to ten-thousands magnitude higher than THC, and with different effects,” according to Herb. “Synthetics are to real THC as rubbing alcohol is to vodka.

Study: Pot increases risk of heart failure, stroke

Well, if smoking increases the risk of heart failure, then it goes to reason that marijuana use would as well.

Now new research analyzing millions of U.S. medical records bear this out, according to CBS News.

“Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in these patients,” lead researcher Dr. Aditi Kalla, a cardiologist at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, told CBS.

Kalla’s study looked at 20 million health records of patients aged 18 to 55 who were discharged from one of more than a thousand hospitals across the United States in 2009 and 2010. Of those patients, 1.5 percent said they’d used marijuana.

Researchers also associated pot with a 26 percent increased risk of stroke and a 10 percent increased risk of heart failure.

“More research will be needed to understand the [reasons] behind this effect,” Kalla said.

The study was not without its detractors

Paul Armentaro, deputy director of the marijuana advocacy group NORML, said the study “is inconsistent with other studies finding no adverse effects to those who consume marijuana.”

Kalla said now that medical or recreational marijuana use is now legal in more than half of U.S. states and a better understanding of pot’s health effects is needed.

You can read the whole CBS story by clicking here.