DEA bans components of spice, bath salts

Courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

Courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

The U.S. moved to ban key chemicals used in synthetic, or designer, drugs last week.

On Friday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published a final rule to permanently categorize 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone, or methylone, as a Schedule I substance, meaning it is highly dangerous and has no approved medical use, according to a statement from DEA.

DEA also filed a Notice of Intent Friday to temporarily classify three synthetic cannabinoids (UR-144, XLR11 and AKB48) that often are used in synthetic marijuana, or spice, as Schedule I substances.

Methylone often is used in the designer drug “bath salts”, designer drugs that have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among teens. They often mimic the effects of illegal substances such as LSD and cocaine, including paranoia, impaired motor control and violent outbursts.

Likewise, the use of synthetic cannabinoids, often marketed as incense and as legal, has jumped. Spice consists of herbal material laced with chemicals and is meant to mimic the effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

None of the aforementioned substances have been approved or deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found spice was associated with 16 cases of kidney damage in six states last year.

Synthetic marijuana was linked to more than 10,000 hospital visits in 2010, according to a report released last year. Additionally, when compared to marijuana, synthetic marijuana is “two to three times more likely to be associated with sympathomimetic effects such as tachycardia and hypertension, and roughly five times more likely to be associated with hallucinations and seizures, according to the CDC report.

In 2012, the U.S. government cracked down on the chemical components used in spice by classifying them as Schedule I substances. It’s often difficult to ban the drug outright because those who make the drug simply change the active ingredient to one not covered by the law.

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