DEA targets four more “spice” ingredients

Courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

Courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency

Four more compounds used in synthetic marijuana could soon be listed as Schedule I substances.

In a Federal Register notice published last week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced it is seeking  temporary Schedule I status for the substances –  quinolin-8-yl 1-pentyl-1 H-indole-3-carboxylate (PB-22; QUPIC), quinolin-8-yl 1-(5-fluoropentyl)-1 H-indole-3-carboxylate (5-fluoro-PB-22; 5F-PB-22), N-(1-amino-3-methyl-1-oxobutan-2-yl)-1-(4-fluorobenzyl)-1 H-indazole-3-carboxamide (AB-FUBINACA) and N-(1-amino-3,3-dimethyl-1-oxobutan-2-yl)-1-pentyl-1 H-indazole-3-carboxamide (ADB-PINACA). The agency cites “imminent hazard to public safety” as the cause.

The substances may remain classified as Schedule I – meaning they have no accepted medical use and a high risk of abuse and harm – for two years while the process to permanently schedule them is completed, according to the notice. However, the notice also states that “it is the intention of the Deputy Administrator to issue such a final order as soon as possible after the expiration of 30 days from the date of publication of this notice”.  The temporary listing is not expected to be in place before Feb. 10.

Synthetic marijuana contains compounds similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Also known by a variety of names, such as spice and K2, synthetic marijuana has been a challenge for law enforcement officials to regulate as product formulations often change after substances have been made illegal, allowing producers to skirt regulation. Synthetic pot typically is sold in head shops, convenience stores or online as plant food or incense, and may indicate that it’s “not for human consumption”.

One of the compounds in question – AB-FUBINACA – was first targeted by law enforcement following “adverse events” in Colorado and Georgia in August and September. Likewise, the number of reports involving these compounds has increased recently –  while no reports to major drug tracking systems had been made for any of the four compounds prior to last February.

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