The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Lawmakers want to ban new forms of synthetic drugs

14

February

Parents, take note.

Dangerous synthetic drugs have returned to convenience-store shelves.

Last year, the Florida Legislature banned several forms of synthetic cathinones, or bath salts, that had become popular among teenagers. Lawmakers also banned synthetic cannabinoids, known informally as K2. The drugs have been known to cause violent hallucinations, paranoia, muscle damage and kidney failure.

But since then, chemists have tweaked the formula –- and the drugs are back.

Lawmakers now want to make it a third-degree felony to manufacture or sell the new forms of the drugs.

On Tuesday, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and a handful law enforcement officials came together to support the measure.

“This allows us as law enforcement to be one step ahead of the chemists for a short period of time,” Assistant Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Jim Madden said.

The drugs -– which are marketed as herbal smokes, incense, bath salts, plant food and cleaning products -– have been problematic throughout the state.

Rep. Clay Ingram, who is sponsoring the bill in the House, said school administrators in Pensacola brought the issue to his attention.

“The highs they saw with the kids were different than what they had seen before,” Ingram said.

In Charlotte County, three high-school students were recently hospitalized after overdosing –- and a fourth had to be restrained after chasing his father around the house with a machete while hallucinating, Sheriff Bill Cameron said.

Lawmakers urged parents to speak to their teenage children -– and to pay attention to their purchases.

“If your teenage boy is buying bath salts, he probably isn’t taking baths,” said Cynthia Lewis-Younger, director of the Florida Poison Information Center. “And unless he is the Future Farmers of America, he’s not growing plants, either.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 1:17pm]

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