The Pryor Times

December 21, 2012

Fake drugs; right here

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR — Fake drugs are a real problem in Mayes County

Anyone can buy synthetic versions of various drugs at gas stations, convenience stores, novelty stores, and head shops. Most popular are synthetic marijuana, or “fake weed,” and party pills. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics says manufacturers have flooded the market over the past few years with synthetic products that mimic actual street drugs.

Synthetic marijuana is being packaged and sold as herbal and organic. The suggested use, according to the label, is incense or potpourri. Smoking this “fake weed,” produces a high quite similar to the real thing.

It all started with K2, the original synthetic marijuana. K2, also called Spice, produces a high but comes with dangerous, often deadly side effects. The chemical compounds found in K2 can cause hallucinations, increased heart rate, seizures, anxiety, paranoia and death. K2, and all the brands following it, are sold by the gram or the ounce and marketed to teens. As laws and legislation are passed outlawing different strands of synthetic marijuana, developers reformulate, repackage and get around the laws.

Party pills are another deadly trend. These pills are sold as copies of substances such as Adarol, Xanax, cocaine and Ecstasy. Party pills are as readily available as synthetic marijuana, and can easily be purchased online. Due to unreliable manufacturers, the side effects of these pills are dangerously unpredictable.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics reports that many teenagers think these synthetic drugs are safe alternatives to street drugs, because they are sold legally in local convenience stores. Oklahoma Senate Bill 919 banned two classes of synthetic drugs, synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinone. It outlaws approximately 250 different synthetic chemicals found in these fake drugs. Possession or sales of these products can result in felony charges and a prison term of up to 10 years.  

While these trends are seen on national news, locals say they are a problem right here in Mayes County.

“It has become a huge problem in Mayes County,” says Lt. Alan Davis. “We have had a lot of medical runs because of these synthetic drugs. People have serious reactions to it.”

The laws regarding these synthetic drugs are a little hazy. Davis explains why.

“It’s not possible to say which brands are legal and which are not. The chemical compounds in these drugs are what have been made illegal,” said Davis. “These substances come from overseas and there is no regulation on what compounds are used in which ‘brands’ of synthetic drugs.”

Essentially, there is no way of knowing what compound is in each drug as the manufacturers mix and match. Not only does this make the substances more dangerous, but it makes it harder to eradicate.

“Any of these synthetic drugs are illegal if you buy or sell them with the intent to use them for consumption,” said Davis.

Many people who use these synthetic drugs believe they will not get caught, as there is no field test that will determine if one of the illegal compounds is present. Davis said this is not the case.

“There is no field test we can do to test for these compounds, however, if someone is caught with synthetic marijuana, for instance, I will seize it and send it in to be tested,” said Davis. “If the substance tests positive for one of the illegal compounds, I will issue a warrant for their arrest.”

Local law enforcement says the problem has become so widespread, it is not just teenagers anymore. People assume that because something is more readily available that is both legal and safe.

“People don’t seem to understand this stuff is deadly,” said Davis.

Local officials say party pills are every bit as dangerous, but have not been as much of a problem as synthetic marijuana so far.

Local medical professionals say the side effects of synthetic drugs are no laughing matter. With side effects ranging from hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, and death, people are urged not to mistake “fake” for safe.