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Expert offers warning signs for parents to tell if children are on drugs

From WFTV (Orange County, FL):

Dr. Barry Logan and his team attended the Ultra Music Festival in Miami in March, not for the music, but to collect saliva, urine and blood samples from concertgoers for federal drug research.

“It's a great venue for us to study some of what's going on in the designer drug market,” Dr. Barry Logan said.

The goal of Logan and his team is to identify new drugs and to help emergency room doctors stop overdoses before they become deadly.
 

New Webinar- “Flakka”: The Truth Behind the Latest Designer Drug Media Storm

From: NMS Labs

Donna Papsun, a forensic toxicologist at NMS Labs, will be hosting a free webinar on Flakka, the new dangerous designer drug that is taking the country by storm.  "Flakka” is the latest street name referring to alpha-pyrrolidinophenone (alpha PVP), a novel psychoactive substance that has been on the recreational drug market since 2012.  Former street names include “Gravel”, which was allegedly alpha PVP mixed with lorazepam, and “Bath Salts”, a catch-all term referring to a number of synthetic stimulants.  This webinar will focus on the toxicology of alpha PVP and highlight the prevalence of this drug by recreational users.  Although the abuse of alpha PVP is not new, it is certainly a designer drug trend that deserves the attention of public health authorities, law enforcement, medical examiners, and toxicology laboratories. 

Register today and learn more about Flakka, Alpha PVP, and other novel psychoative substances as well as how they are effecting the world of toxicology.  The webinar will be held Monday, June 1st at 1pm and will last roughly a half hour.  You can register for the free webinar here

 

Researchers document drug use among Ultra Music Festival attendees

From: Miami Herald

Fair or not, after 16 years Ultra Music Festival has developed a reputation not only as a cornucopia of lights and sounds, but also as a smorgasbord of psychotropic uppers and downers.  But according to a federally funded study, if you ask 100 audience members to pee in a cup in exchange for a $20 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card, 80 just might test positive for drugs.

At least, researchers from the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education said that was their experience last year when they set up camp outside Bayfront Park and sought to document drug use among the thousands of ticket holders who flock to downtown Miami each year for three days of electronic dance music. The event typically sells more than 160,000 tickets.

Out of 145 voluntary participants, 72 percent admitted to having consumed marijuana, cocaine, molly or ecstasy during the past week. And for the 100-plus brave souls who went a step further and agreed to have their blood taken, or give a urine sample, researchers said they found that 58 percent and 80 percent, respectively, had recently consumed designer drugs.

The goal of the study, according to a summary of the results, was not to find out how many at Ultra are on drugs, but to get a better grasp of “some of the newly emerging and potentially dangerous new drugs popular in the [electronic dance music] community.”

“We found the participants at the event were very open with us about their knowledge of the drug scene and drug use,” said Barry Logan, the Pennsylvania-based center’s executive director. “We found a lot of the time what they thought they were taking was not what they were taking.”

Of the 104 urine samples, more than 80 percent tested positive for a synthetic drug, most commonly molly, followed by Alpha-PVP, a synthetic bath salt known as gravel, which ultimately killed 21-year-old Adonis Peña Escoto last year.

However, Logan said the survey was conducted with far too small a sample size — less than one tenth of a percent of the tickets sold for the festival — to be taken as any kind of statistical representation of the drug use at Ultra.

“A lot of people who read this assume it’s an indicator of prevalence, which I don’t think it is,” said Logan.

Now in its 16th year, Ultra is returning to downtown Miami in late March as an 18-and-older festival.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article9709724.html#storylink=cpy

Student fell to death after eating weed cookie

From theGrio:

An autopsy report lists marijuana intoxication as a “significant contributing factor” in the death of 19-year-old Levy Thamba Pongi, a native of the Republic of Congo who fell from a motel balcony on March 11.

Levy was a Wyoming college student who was visiting Denver on spring break. Investigators believe Pongi and his friends came to Colorado to try marijuana, Weiss-Samaras said.

Colorado legalized recreational sales of the drug in January. Colorado law bans the sale of recreational marijuana products to people under 21. It is also illegal for those under 21 to possess marijuana, and adults can be charged with a felony for giving it to someone under the legal age.

Authorities said one of Pongi’s friends was old enough to buy the cookie from a pot shop. It was unclear whether the friend might face charges.

It marked the first time the Denver medical examiner’s office has listed a marijuana edible as a contributor to a death, said Michelle Weiss-Samaras, a spokeswoman for the office.

The medical examiner’s office had Pongi’s body tested for at least 250 different substances, including bath salts and synthetic marijuana, which are known to cause strange behavior. His blood tested positive only for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to the report.

The marijuana concentration in Pongi’s blood was 7.2 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Colorado law says juries can assume someone is driving while impaired by marijuana if their blood contains more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of the chemical.

Posted: 4/9/2014 2:58:00 PM

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Temporary Placement of 10 Synthetic Cathinones Into Schedule I

From the DEA:

The Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is issuing this final order to temporarily schedule 10 synthetic cathinones into schedule I pursuant to the temporary scheduling provisions of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This action is based on a finding by the Deputy Administrator that the placement of these synthetic cathinones and their optical, positional, and geometric isomers, salts and salts of isomers into schedule I of the CSA is necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety. As a result of this order, the regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions applicable to schedule I controlled substances will be imposed on persons who handle (manufacture, distribute, import, export, engage in research, conduct instructional activities, and possess), or propose to handle these synthetic cathinones.

NOTE:  The 10 substances are: 4-methyl-N-ethylcathinone ("4-MEC"); 4-methyl-alpha-pyrrolidinopropiophenone ("4-MePPP"); alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone ("α-PVP"); 1-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2-(methylamino)butan-1-one ("butylone"); 2-(methylamino)-1-phenylpentan-1-one ("pentedrone"); 1-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2-(methylamino)pentan-1-one ("pentylone"); 4-fluoro-N-methylcathinone ("4-FMC"); 3-fluoro-N-methylcathinone ("3-FMC"); 1-(naphthalen-2-yl)-2-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)pentan-1-one ("naphyrone"); and alpha-pyrrolidinobutiophenone ("α-PBP").


Posted: 3/19/2014 12:15:00 PM

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Concerns Over New Dangerous Drug "Gravel" Spreading To Central Ohio

From WBNS-10TV (Columbus, OH):

Law enforcement is being warned tonight about a new, dangerous drug called gravel.

The cocktail can include rat poison, bath salts and methamphetamine. It reportedly makes users paranoid and suicidal.

It got the name gravel by the way it looks.

"When you combine a variety of drugs, none of which are good, you get a combination of something that is even worse than the sum of its parts," said Paul Coleman, the president and CEO of Maryhaven.

The new drug is being tracked in the southern part of the United States. A task force there is now warning law enforcement here in Central Ohio that it may be heading this way.

Posted: 2/27/2014 9:36:00 AM

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What you need to know about synthetic drugs

From CNN:

What exactly are synthetic drugs?

There is no exact definition, because the term is used to describe a wide range of chemical products that are ever-changing. Synthetic marijuana and "bath salts" are the most common of these drugs. Unlike drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, these drugs do not come from plants; they are manmade.

When did they start appearing in the United States and who's using them?

These drugs first appeared in the United States around 2009, according to Scherbenske, and they have since exploded in popularity, particularly among teenagers.

Social media-savvy teens use the Internet to spread the word about where to find these drugs to -- as Scherbenske explains -- "discuss the effects these substances had on their body."

What's the point of making synthetic drugs?

Synthetic drugs makers have easy access to customers by marketing these drugs as harmless household items. So they make lots of money.

Are these drugs legal?

The federal government and at least 38 states have taken steps to ban the substances. But, as soon as one compound is banned, the molecular structure of the synthetic product is altered and that "changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we're at it again," James Capra, DEA chief of operations, said at a news conference in June, according to Time magazine.

Retailers are also skirting the law by labeling the drugs as "not for human consumption," according to the DEA's Scherbenske.

The manufacturers' main goal is to alter the chemical compound to stay one step ahead of the law.

The combination of those compounds and their reactions "is very scary," Scherbenske said.

"We do not know the long term effect that it will have on a person's body."

Who is making this stuff?

Most of the chemicals that are used to make these synthetic drugs are coming directly from China, according to the DEA's John Scherbenske.

Who's selling it here in the U.S.?

Scherbenske says people are starting their own businesses to sell these drugs once they see the profit potential.

These retailers have even taken the feds to court to protect their business: four stores sued the DEA in 2011, claiming the federal agency was "impeding their business," Scherbenske said.

With Labs Pumping Out Legal Highs, China Is the New Front in the Global Drug War

From TIME:

The drugs arrived in an “unnamed, unmarked package,” recalls Timothy LaMere. The rest of what happened that night is more of a blur. After sharing the 2C-E — a synthetic imitation of the rave drug ecstasy — with friends at a house party in Blaine, Minn., things started to go very wrong. Those who took the drug became dangerously unwell — sweating, shaking, rolling around on the floor and experiencing seizures and severe pain. LaMere was among 10 people hospitalized, while one friend, 19-year-old Trevor Robinson, father of a 5-month-old baby, died after “punching walls, breaking items, staring and having dilated pupils and yelling,” according to the criminal complaint. LaMere is currently serving a 10-year sentence for third-degree unintentional murder in a state correctional facility.

The 2C-E that LaMere purchased online is part of the latest drug scourge of new psychoactive substances (NPS), dubbed “legal highs,” to blight not only the U.S. but countries all over the world.

Almost 90% of countries surveyed for the 2013 U.N. World Drugs Report attributed synthetic drugs a significant market share. Suburban laboratories around Chinese port cities are the principle source, from where they can be easily shipped to Europe or North America using regular international courier services. These new drugs are specifically created to mimic the effects of illicit street drugs such as cocaine and cannabis while skirting legal prohibitions. The labeling on packages uses a variety of fanciful descriptions — such as “plant food,” “bath salts” or even “potpourri” — and usually includes the token proviso “not for human consumption.” Yet the brand names used (“Benzo Fury,” “The Joker” and “Blaze”), the psychedelic wrapping and their sale alongside drug impedimenta such as glass pipes and bongs leaves no doubt as to their true purpose.

At present, over 200 such substances exist with more created every day. As soon as one variation is explicitly banned, the chemists tweak the molecules and “it changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we’re at it again,” James Capra, DEA chief of operations, said at a news conference in June. To make matters worse, Chinese chemists are not just sitting back waiting for their products to be made illegal. Often they have already created the next variation of a substance and have it ready to hit the streets before the ink on the banning order of its parent drug has dried. The subtle changes in the formulas can also have lethal effects.

In the U.S., 11% of 17- and 18-year-olds admit to using legal highs, and they are now the second most popular class of recreational drug among American students after cannabis. Despite being marketed as legal and even low-risk, many are actually more dangerous than traditional narcotics.

Molly: An Old Drug With Terrifying New Tricks

From Yahoo! Shine:

Molly — the innocuous street name for a drug linked to at least three fatal overdoses in the past month — sounds more like someone’s great-aunt than an illegal substance. A better name for the designer drug, according to both drug enforcement and medical experts, would be “Russian Roulette.”

“When a buyer abuses something called Molly, there’s no way to tell what’s in it,” Rusty Payne, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Agency told Yahoo Shine. “That’s the most dangerous thing about these drugs.”

The so-called party drug is believed to be responsible for two deaths and for sickening several more attendees of last week’s Electric Zoo music festival in New York, though final toxicology reports are still pending. Earlier in the week, Molly, which sells for $30 to $50 in capsule pill or powder form, was linked to another death at a concert in Boston.

In its purest form, Molly (short for 'molecule'), is a crystallized and powdered form of MDMA, a mind-altering combination of research chemicals with euphoric, empathetic and heightened sensory effects which can last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours. But the unintended side effects range from depression due to the surge of serotonin the drug releases in the brain, to severe dehydration, elevated body temperature and rapid heartbeat. And that’s if the drug is pure.

As demand for the drug spikes, Payne tells Yahoo Shine, he’s seeing synthetic counterfeits, particularly Methylone, sold under the same name. Described by one Redditor as “Molly’s sketchy cousin,” Methylone is a synthetic drug in the family of bath salts. In a 2012 report published in a toxicology research journal, one woman who believed she’d ingested Molly collapsed at a concert after taking the drug, then returned to her feet before convulsing and later dying.

While drug enforcement agents have had Molly on their radar for some time, the drug has just now come into mainstream consciousness, with references everywhere from Instragram hashtags and T-shirt lines to pop music. For parents, even those who came of age when X signified more than just a generation, hype around the drug is alarming, if not alarmist. “I’m not saying everyone is going to die if they take ecstasy,” says Clark. But he warns, “the drug can be dangerous to some people and we don’t know which people.”

Posted: 9/5/2013 8:25:00 AM

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Road safety conference targets drug and alcohol

From Health Canal:

Road safety experts are hoping to uncover the next big breakthrough in reducing the road toll at T2013: The 20th International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety conference to be held in Brisbane from August 25-28.

T2013 conference chair and director of CARRS-Q Professor Barry Watson said the conference, which brings together road safety experts from across the world, would tackle one of the major causes of road deaths and injury - drink and drug driving.

Professor Watson said "designer drugs" were the new face of drug abuse across the world.

"Research has shown new designer drugs that mimic drugs such as cannabis and amphetamines are being used at an unprecedented rate and are difficult to detect," he said.

"This is presenting a huge challenge and one that will be a major focus of the conference.

"Being a step ahead in the detection of designer drugs is crucial and we will have guest speakers including Marilyn Huestis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Barry Logan from the Centre for Forensic Science Research and Education to provide an insight into how we can overcome this challenge."

The ICADTS conference is regarded as the leading international meeting in the field of alcohol, drugs and traffic safety.

Posted: 8/28/2013 10:25:00 AM

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