Eleven people were hospitalized due to consuming a synthetic marijuana drug named “bizarro” in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.
The synthetic drugs are marketed under a number of names, most often called K2 or Spice, NBC Washington reports. Synthetic marijuana is labeled as “‘Not for human consumption’ to mask their intended purpose and avoid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory oversight of the manufacturing process,” according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
While marijuana laws may have been relaxed in Washington D.C. this past year, synthetic drugs remain illegal. In the D.C. area synthetic marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is the highest classification a drug can receive.
The drug is not regulated, and as a result it is impossible to determine what chemicals are involved. The website k2zombiedc.com is a health campaign that is dedicated to fighting the abuse of synthetic drugs within the D.C. community. It lists some of the possible side effects as, “seizures, instances of coma, brain damage, nerve trauma, and in some extreme cases, stroke and the loss of motor skills such as speaking, walking and the movement of arms and legs.Policing the drug presents a variety of challenges.”
The greatest struggle comes in policing the production of the drug. Producers of synthetic marijuana are able to alter the chemicals and ingredients to work around bans and regulations stopping the sale of their product.
Demand for the drug is expanding quickly, and teenagers are the most frequent abusers. The synthetic drug first appeared in the U.S. back in 2008. In just seven years the Office of National Drug Control Policy now estimates that 11.3 percent of high school seniors are using synthetic marijuana.