Designer Drugs


“Spice” is a synthetic cannabinoid and is used to describe a diverse family of herbal mixtures marketed under many names, including: K2, fake marijuana, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks and others. These products contain dried, shredded plant material and presumably chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. While Spice products are labeled “not for human consumption” they are marketed to people who are interested in herbal alternatives to marijuana (cannabis). Spice users report experiences similar to those produced by marijuana and regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms. Spice mixtures are sold in many countries in head shops, gas stations and via the Internet. Spice is also sold as “incense”. Spice is abused mainly by smoking it.

Presently, there are no studies on the effects of Spice on human health or behavior. A variety of mood and perceptual effects have been described, and some people have experienced rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently banned five synthetic cannabinoids by placing them in Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I status means that the substance is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no known medical benefits; and as such, it is illegal to possess or sell products that contain the substance.

Bath Salts

“Bath Salts” is the latest addition to a growing list of items that young people can obtain to get high. The synthetic powder is sold legally online and in drug paraphernalia stores under a variety of names such as Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, etc.

Relatively new to the drug abuse scene, these products often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), mephedrone and pyrovalerone. These drugs are typically administered orally, by inhalation, or by injection with the worst outcomes apparently associated with snorting or intravenous administration. Mephedrone is of particular concern because it presents a high risk for overdose. These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs (indeed they are sometimes souted as cocaine substitutes); thus they present a high abuse and addiction liability. These products have been reported to trigger intense cravings like methamphetamine users.