Synthetic Drug Use in Oklahoma Continues to Rise

In Oklahoma, a state known for its high rates of substance abuse and harsh penalties for drug crimes, many people are turning to synthetic drugs in an attempt to get a legal high.  However, beginning in November 2011, the state banned certain synthetic drugs, and effective November 1 of this year, the state's synthetic drug laws are becoming even stronger. Two recent cases of synthetic drug overdose in Edmond have put a spotlight on the dangers of synthetic drug use.  In separate incidents over the span of two weeks, two University of Central Oklahoma students, aged 18 and 20, have overdosed on "Molly," a synthetic form of ecstasy. The 18-year-old, Colton Beard, was arrested in late September when he was found to be acting irrationally and had to be tasered in order to be subdued.  He was taken to a hospital and treated for suspected synthetic drug overdose before being arrested on complaints of resisting an officer, public intoxication, and marijuana possession. The 20-year-old was hospitalized after friends called 911 and reported that he was suffering from an overdose of Molly.  He remained in intensive care nearly a week later. Synthetic drugs are those which have been chemically altered so that, while they mimic illegal drugs and narcotics, they have a slightly different molecular structure.  This allowed the chemicals to be sold legally as "potpourri," "plant food," or "bath salts," as long as they were not intended for human use.  Synthetic drug makers would label these products as "Not for Human Consumption," even though they were distributed to and sold in tobacco shops and "head shops." Legislation that took effect on November 1, 2011, banned two classes of synthetic drugs:  synthetic cannabinoids  and synthetic cathinone. Synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered substances similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.  These are known by names including K2, Spice, and Genie. Synthetic cathinone is a derivative of a psychoactive stimulant.  Often known as "bath salts," synthetic cathinone mimics the effects of amphetamines including ecstasy and cocaine.  Names for these designer drugs include Molly, 2C-E,  Cloud Nine, Ivory Wave, Ivory Coast, Purple Wave, Pure Ivory, Ocean Burst, Sextacy and Vanilla Sky. Senate Bill 919, which took effect last year and outlawed synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinone, prohibited some 250 chemicals used in creating synthetic drugs.  However, drug designers simply began using different chemicals to create synthetic drugs.  When House Bill 2942 takes effect November 1, several other chemicals will be added as illegal drugs under the Schedule I, III or IV lists. Despite federal and state legislation, synthetic drug use continues to increase dramatically.  According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 304 calls related to "bath salts" in 2010.  The following year, that number skyrocketed to 6,100. For more information about synthetic drug laws in Oklahoma, or to find a drug defense lawyer equipped to handle your case, please visit http://www.oklahoma-criminal-defense.com.

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