While our country continues to be plagued with the opiate crisis, there exists another dangerous drug that is falling into the hands of our children at a rapid pace: synthetic marijuana. A harmful message is sent to our younger generation as states pass the legalization of marijuana, offering it as a safe and harmless drug.

The problem worsens when our young people believe synthetic marijuana is the same as natural marijuana. They do realize nothing could be further from the truth. Young people across the country are becoming critically ill and dying after using synthetic marijuana, even after their first time using it.

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Synthetic marijuana is commonly referred to as "Spice" or "K2" and is a mixture of herbs and spices. These spices have been sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The chemical compounds typically include HU-210, HU-211, JWH-018, and JWH-073, but there are hundreds more as chemists "tweak" the formula in an attempt to stay ahead of the law.

(1) Users and sellers should know that "tweaking" the chemical make-up of a drug is still illegal. The altered substance may be a new formula, also known as an analog, but it contains similar chemical compounds to those that are banned and therefore still illegal under the Federal Analogue Act, 21 U.S.C., Section 813.

An analog of a drug is a created variation that is chemically or pharmacologically similar to an original or created formula (another existing analog.)

A controlled substance analog shall, to the extent intended for human consumption, be treated for the purposes of any Federal law, as a controlled substance in schedule I. (2). The majority of states have also implemented analog state laws to combat the abuse and sale of synthetic drugs, in addition to the existing Federal regulations.

Synthetic marijuana is commonly purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, gas stations, and over the Internet. It is often marketed as incense or "fake weed" and the packaging is labeled "Not for Human Consumption."

The synthetic marijuana chemists erroneously believe selling the product as incense or potpourri will protect them from federal prosecution. Synthetic marijuana street names include Bliss, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie, Mojo, Scooby Snax, Spice, Zohai, and many others.