Would you be surprised to learn that there exists a group of drugs that are potentially more harmful than marijuana and cocaine, yet legally available to the public via online and convenience stores? If you answered “yes,” then it’s time you learn a little about synthetic drugs.
What are Synthetic Drugs?
Synthetic drugs are, in essence, non-organic substances. In other words, they are man-made. Similar to marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine, synthetic drugs are chemically enhanced, and sold over-the-counter in convenience stores throughout the country.
Synthetic drugs are divided into one of two groups:
- Cannabinoids (eg. K2, Spice)
- Cathinones (“bath salts”)
Cathinones contain chemical compounds that resemble the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine.
Although the contents of these products are not meant for human consumption, they are frequently smoked or inhaled as a drug
Just How Dangerous are Synthetic Drugs?
Synthetic drugs are very dangerous. They are extremely unsafe, and individuals who use them run the risk of death. The reason these drugs are so dangerous is because individuals are unaware of exactly what they are ingesting. Some of these drugs are estimated to be anywhere from 2 to 500 times stronger than THC.
What makes these drugs even more dangerous is their rapid evolution over a short amount of time. Manufacturers of synthetic drugs constantly change the drugs’ chemical composition, making them legal under laws that fail to keep pace with the technology. The more these drugs are altered, the more unpredictable and harmful their side effects.
The Business of Synthetic Drugs
The synthetic drug market is a very profitable one. Individuals are realizing this, and are starting their own synthetic drug retail operations within the United States. What’s more is that these individuals are very organized and clever, using effective means to circumvent the laws in their quest for millions of dollars in profits. One of the ways retailers avoid issues with law enforcement is by marketing the synthetic substances as household products, and warning that their products are “not for human consumption.” Thus far, this strategy has proven to be very successful.
The major reason the synthetic drug market continues to grow at such an alarming rate is because of something law enforcement has no control over—high product demand. What is most interesting, rather, startling about this component of the synthetic drug market is its increasing popularity among teenagers.
According to John Scherbenske, a DEA official who oversees the Synthetic Drugs and Chemicals section of the organization, synthetic drugs are “all the rage” for children between the ages of 12 and 17, mostly because of their accessibility online and in convenience stores. It is not uncommon for computer-savvy teens to communicate with one another via social media about their experiences with synthetic drugs. This form of communication among teens encourages the continual use of these products, and allows them to share with one another various ways to obtain the drugs.
As time progresses, so does the battle against synthetic drugs. Granted, the dangers of these drugs have been thoroughly articulated and firmly established. Nevertheless, synthetic drugs are big business, and so long as the demand for these drugs remains high, profit-chasing retailers will continue to find new, creative ways to supply them.