Synthetic drugs like Happy Shaman and Salvia could be targeted by state lawmakers soon. Right now they are legally sold at local head shops. However, poison control experts say they can be extremely harmful.
Doctors say the synthetic drugs often don't show up on conventional drug tests, but they can produce an extreme high. They're also often laced with chemical compounds that can be up to 10 times more potent than marijuana.
Dr. Alexander Garrard, a clinical toxologist with the Upstate New York Poison Center, says in 2010, the center, which is affiliated with Upstate Medical University, received 10 calls about problems with these synthetic drugs. In 2011, it received 244 calls.
"It's especially dangerous because you don't know exactly what's in it," says Garrard. "They get a whole bunch of herbs. They spray some sort of chemical on there. You don't know what the chemical is. You don't know the concentration, they could be putting other stuff in there."
He says the products could also cause hallucinations, high blood pressure, seizures, or even death. He says anyone with symptoms from those products should call the Poison Center Helpline at 1-800-222-1222.
In September, we reported the Oswego County Legislature asked for help from state and federal governments to ban these substances. Now, several months later, we're investigating what's being done.
Assembly Will Barclay's office says he introduced new legislation last week that would remove synthetic marijuana from store shelves.
In a news release from Barclay's office it says that the law would add â??synthetic cannabinoidsâ?? to the controlled substance list. That includes any substance that has the same effects as marijuana. He says it would prevent manufacturers from slightly altering the makeup of a product and releasing it under another name that isn't on the "banned" list.
The legislation would also enable law enforcement to penalize users similar to how drug users are penalized.
Do you think synthetic drugs like Happy Shaman should be illegal to sell? Have you or someone you know ever tried these products? Post your comments below.