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Home  |  News  |  DHEC moving forward with synthetic drug ban in SC

DHEC moving forward with synthetic drug ban in SC
Friday, October 21, 2011

 
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina health officials on Thursday worked on an emergency regulation to ban chemicals found in synthetic drugs that law enforcement officials say are sweeping the state.

"We feel like this is the way to address this very emerging issue and very much a changing issue," Adam Myrick, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Environmental Control, said about the effort to ban bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

Bath salts are a stimulant that can mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. Synthetic marijuana, also known as "K2" or "Spice," is sold as blends of herbs and plant materials coated with chemicals - most of which were created by a Clemson University scientist for research purposes in the 1990s - that produce a euphoric feeling when smoked. The compounds were never tested on humans.

Law enforcement officers across the state have been clamoring for action against the drugs, which they say present a health hazard to the teens and young people who buy them at about $25 a package. Some retailers have opted on their own to stop selling the products.

Despite its benign street names, synthetic marijuana has recently proven lethal in South Carolina. Earlier this month, a 19-year-old basketball player at Anderson University died after ingesting JWH-018, a chemical used to make the drug. Coroner Greg Shore said Lamar Jack complained of cramps and vision problems before collapsing during a preseason workout. The athlete died days later from acute drug toxicity and multiple organ failure.

Both bath salts and synthetic marijuana are currently legal in South Carolina, although at least half a dozen cities and counties have passed their own bans imposing civil penalties for anyone caught selling, making or possessing the drugs, which are currently sold at a variety of gas stations and other novelty shops.

DHEC hasn't determined exactly what the penalties for violating the ban might be. When it goes into effect, which could be as early as Friday, Myrick said DHEC's ban would do the same thing on a statewide level, hopefully stemming the drugs' tide either until the Drug Enforcement Administration takes action against them or state lawmakers can outlaw them next year.

"It will tide us over until the DEA publishes its rescheduling of the substances," Myrick said. "It also carries us over with the 90 days into the next legislative session."

Lawmakers return to Columbia in January, and laws addressing the drugs are already being proposed.

Source: http://www.wistv.com/story/15740296/dhec-moving-forward-with-synthetic-drug-ban-in-sc

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