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Manufacturers of the synthetic version of marijuana known as “spice” are changing the recipe just enough to skirt state laws banning the substance, The Washington Post reports.
Makers of spice spray herbs with compounds that mimic marijuana’s active ingredient, THC. Some spice users experience hallucinations, seizures, vomiting, anxiety and an accelerated heart rate, the article notes.
In December, the U.S. House voted to ban more than 30 synthetic drugs, including spice. The Synthetic Drug Control Act would make it illegal to manufacture or dispense the drugs. The bill would also give the Drug Enforcement Administration more authority to put temporary bans on potentially hazardous drugs as they are being investigated. The bill has moved to the Senate.
According to the recent Monitoring the Future survey, one in every nine high school seniors (11.4 percent) reported using synthetic marijuana in the prior 12 months.
About 40 states regulate spice, according to the newspaper. Authorities have found that in some cases, the spice seized by police does not contain chemicals that are banned by state law. There are potentially hundreds of synthetic compounds that could be substituted for ones that are currently banned.
In some states, laws banning spice include a provision that prohibits chemicals that are intended to act in a similar way to the banned substances. But scientists say not enough is known about the new substances to prove they are similar to the original versions.
The drug is popular in part because most drug tests do not detect spice, and it is available on many websites, according to the article.