A new federal law would establish regulatory oversight and enforcement of 26 drugs commonly found in synthetic marijuana known as "K2" and "Spice."
The drugs would be added to the Controlled Substance Act as Schedule 1 substances, if Congress passes the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187), according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The drugs have been determined to have a high potential for abuse; have no medical use in treatment in the United States; and lack an accepted safety for use of the drug.
The new law would also allow the DEA or FDA to temporarily ban the drugs for as long as 36 months. The legislation creates a new definition for “cannabamimetic agents” and sets criteria for the regulation of similar chemical compounds.
In recent years, products labeled as “herbal incense” have become popular among teens and young adults. These products consist of plant material laced with synthetic cannabinoids which, when smoked, mimic the delirious effects of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.
More than 100 such substances have been synthesized and identified to date, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The DEA has used its emergency scheduling authority to designate several of these harmful chemicals as Schedule 1 substances. The substances added to Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act also include 9 different 2C chemicals, and 15 different synthetic cannabanoids.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that they received 6,959 calls related to synthetic marijuana in 2011, a 139% increase from the 2,906 calls received in 2010.