Thank you for being patient while waiting to hear about our trip to the Illinois Emergency Summit on Synthetic Drugs.
After 12 hours sleep, I’m back to work and ready to get to our “Foundation for the Foundation.”
Foundation for the Foundation
As part of that effort we have contacted an organization called SCORE to help us make an organized plan for the future, including an educational program, media package, and Public Service Announcement.
The Summit was a great meeting of the minds in an effort to formulate a coordinated response to fight back against these dangerous drugs. I spoke at length about the dangers of synthetic marijuana and how we may address these issues regarding “fake pot” within education and law enforcement to an audience made up of medical professionals, law enforcement, legislators, and the concerned public.
We heard from Scott Albrecht, DEA Special Agent, who was a treasure trove of information on the issue.
He spoke to the DEA’s response to synthetic drugs, enforcement and regulatory challenges. He gave us a break down on the current situation and how fast it is growing.
Some of the new information he gave us: there are 400-500 minimum chemicals used in synthetic marijuana. This is the challenge.
There has never been a drug like synthetic marijuana before. Of the 400+ chemicals used to produce fake pot, there are only tests for 14 by blood and 5 by urine. This makes it very difficult to enforce the laws designed to ban these products.
DEA had enforced an emergency ban in March, but they don’t even see 2 of the 5 chemicals they banned.
Some of those who produce these drugs are actually suing each other for trademark infringement.
The chemicals used to produce synthetic marijuana are produced in China and occasionally shipped to a second country, then into the U.S.
My thoughts: Maybe we need to start addressing this issue at it’s source…China. There are no other uses for synthetic canabinoids and cathinones other than for the purpose of making these drugs.
Tom McNamara, Commander of the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group, spoke about their successful efforts to fight the meth problem and how it may relate to the synthetic drug issue. They were very successful in getting Meth out of Southern Illinois. They have a lot of experience in that.
The drug dealers are buying the chemicals from China, and they use acetone to “cut” the chemicals. Then they spray the chemicals onto Damiana leaves, mallow leaves, or other herbs, and “manufacture” the drug in their garages.
Dr. Michael Wahl, Medical Director, Illinois Poison Control, spoke with enthusiasm about the chemical structures of the various analogs.
The doctor gave us the scientific breakdown of the chemicals used to make these “designer drugs.” We learned new things about the effects of these drugs.
In particular, we learned about the dopamine causes paranoia in high doses. We also learned about the bodies inability to control temperature when under the influence of some of these chemicals. Temperatures can increase to ranges of 107 and above, causing death and/or brain damage.
Joe Bruscato, Winnebego County States’ Attorney, spoke about how they conducted the recent busts in Rockford.
He spearheaded a recent sting operation against Rockford (Winnebago County) gas stations and convenience stores. He spoke about what law enforcement can do.
He recommended they send letters that their liquor licenses may be in jeopardy. In the most recent sting, they got lucky because the drug dealers were selling a product that was recently outlawed in Illinois, and they were charged for selling a schedule I substance.
Overall, Sandy McKinney, Vice President of TO THE MAXIMUS foundation, and I were able to make some valuable connections and gained some new insight into the synthetic drug industry and the challenges facing law enforcement.