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County warns of dangers from synthetic cannabis use

4/11/2018, 1:36 p.m.
Since the recent warning about synthetic cannabinoids from the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have now been nearly 60 ...

As Reyes and Dr. Troiani emphasized, the battle against synthetic drugs is just as bad as the battle against illegal drugs. And often, they all have related business ties. “These man-made drugs are often manufactured out of the country,” Dr. Troiani explained. “They can be traced back to major drug cartels, of which three have a solid presence around Chicago; as well as to mom and pop operations.”

Reyes agreed. “These people making the synthetics are very proficient chemists. They design products made to mimic the effects of cannabis. The problem is, numerous side effects are created in the process. Besides bleeding, you can have seizures, increased heart rates, suicidal thoughts, depression, and much more.”

The best approach, Dr. Troiani and Reyes stated, is definitely education. And first and foremost, the danger of putting any foreign substances into your body continues to be the number one point. Unfortunately, as Reyes reminds us, there is often a simple lack of fear. “We would think that if folks hear about a product that killed people, they’d shy away from it. But the way people often thinks is, ‘that must be great stuff, let’s go try it.’”

There is no FDA regulation over these products. Could there be? Reyes says, the way the formulas are always being changed, that would be very hard to do. “It would definitely take a major campaign, but then again 70 percent of the vitamins on the market are not FDA regulated either. The vitamins might claim to do certain things, but it’s up to the consumer to beware.”

And if there were FDA regulation, the next step might be more “fake packaging.” Another story Dr. Troiani and Reyes told is that sometimes synthetic cannabinoids are disguised as a non-edible product, such as incense. “There might even be a tag that says ‘not for human consumption,’” Dr. Troiani explained. “But there’s a wink-wink, nod-nod relationship between the customer and the clerk, and the purchase is made.”

For more on synthetic cannabinoids, go to http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/synthetic-cannabinoids or https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice.