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Synthetic Cannabinoids

Cannabinoid chemicals are sprayed onto plant material and smoked to appear like marijuana.
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Synthetic Cathinones

Often known as “bath salts,” cathinones contain amphetamine-like stimulants that can be ingested orally, injected or snorted.
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What is Vapor?

Vapor

Liquid forms of synthetic cannabinoids are ingested using a vapor pen or electronic cigarette that produces little to no odor.
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Synthetic drug facts

Synthetic drug facts

Synthetic drugs include any substance that aims to mimic the effects of illegal chemicals and may contain stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic properties.
What to look for

What to look for

Synthetic drug packaging can range from plastic tubes or bottles to brightly colored foil packets.
What to say

What to say

If you have concern that someone you know may be using synthetic drugs, it is important address the issue directly, with the individual’s best interest in mind.
Frequently Asked Questions

F.A.Q.

Get the answers to your synthetic drug related questions.

Synthetic Cannabinoid (yellow) and Cathinone (black) Exposure Calls

Hennepin Regional Poison Control Center, January 2010 – June 2014

Synth_PoisonControl_Chart2[1]

Past-Year Use of Illicit Drugs by High School Seniors (percent)

  • Marijuana/Hashish 35.1%
  • Adderall 6.8%
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids 5.8%
  • Hallucinogens 4.0%
  • Salvia 1.8%
  • MDMA (Ecstasy) 3.6%
  • Inhalants 1.9%
Source: 2014 National Institute on Drug Abuse

In The News

Synthetic marijuana blamed for spike in St. Paul emergency calls

May 2017 – Dozens of people in St. Paul have been sickened in recent weeks after smoking or ingesting what may be synthetic marijuana. The bad reactions have left some people in what authorities describe as a “zombie-like” state. The incidents have been reported mostly by providers of services for homeless people living in downtown. Drug abuse experts say they have little idea where the tainted marijuana is coming from. [Full Story]

Chicago-Area Medical Examiner: New Opioid Killing Dozens

May 2017 – The Cook County medical examiner’s office says a powerful new type of opioid is to blame for more than 40 deaths in the Chicago-area this year.

The medical examiner’s office says that 44 deaths were attributed to acrylfentanyl from January through April. That number was just seven for all of last year. Acrylfentanyl is a chemical cousin of fentanyl, which is a powerful synthetic opioid.

The office is warning the general public and emergency responders about this drug because officials say it could take more than one dose of naloxone, the heroin antidote, to revive a person who takes it. [Full Story]

Get opioid overdose antidote in your medicine cabinet now, health officials say

April 2017 – State health commissioner Ed Ehlinger has an urgent message for Minnesotans: get the anti-overdose drug Narcan and learn how to use it.

Opioid overdoses kill more people in Minnesota than traffic deaths, according to Ehlinger, and he said now is the time to take precautions. State health officials are urging people to consider stocking up on the medication that reverses an opioid overdose just in case. [Full Story]

'White China' Fentanyl-Smuggling Ring Busted in Brooklyn, DA Says

Mar. 2017 – DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — More than 30 people were busted for smuggling a new potent form of heroin, dubbed “White China,” from Asia into New York for the last 10 months, officials said Wednesday. “Our communities are flooded with heroin, fentanyl and similar synthetic drugs. And these drugs are often even more potent and more dangerous,” acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said at a press conference Wednesday. “As you all know, the use of heroin and other opioids is reaching crisis levels in New York City. The New York City police department estimates that overdoses have killed 1,350 people in the city last year.” [Full Story]

Synthetic drugs are making headway in Afghanistan, UN agency reports

Feb. 2017 – After spending eight-months gathering information on drugs known locally as ‘glass,’ ‘tears of love or ‘sheesha,’ the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) concluded that “there are strong indications that methamphetamine use is establishing itself among opiate users, which are already one of the most vulnerable parts of Afghan society.” [Full Story]

Learning to say no: Hospitals train emergency doctors to resist prescribing opioids

Jan. 2017 – A patient admitted to the trauma unit of the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital was prescribed opioid painkillers for injuries he sustained in a nasty car crash. Within days, the patient returned for more pills, the first of many trips to multiple doctors.“This guy was not a substance abuser before,” Chang said. “Because of the pain medicine, he became one. We asked ourselves: Were we responsible for it?” [Full Story]

A Drug 85 Times More Potent Than THC Caused 'Zombie Outbreak' In New York City

Jan. 2017 – Synthetic cannabinoids are used by researchers to study the nervous system, but they are now produced illegally and sold on the street. Though smoked like cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids share little in common with it or its active ingredient, THC. Indeed, the synthetic drugs are much more dangerous because some have killed people. [Full Story]

DEA chief to visit China for talks on synthetic drugs

Jan. 2017 – The nation’s top drug officer is visiting China for the first time in more than a decade to discuss banning more of the synthetic drugs being manufactured by chemists there and illegally sold in the United States. Carreno said the purpose of the visit is to push for more substances to be banned, especially synthetic fentanyl, an incredibly deadly drug that can poison and kill in very small doses. [Full Story]

Synthetic Drug 85 Times More Potent Than Marijuana Caused 'Zombie' Outbreak In New York

Dec. 2016 A designer drug known to be 85 times more potent than marijuana has been identified as the cause for the mysterious, “zombielike” mental state that afflicted several New Yorkers this past summer. While the exact cause of the overdose was not immediately known to investigators, researchers say that they have finally pinpointed the culprit drug after testing the blood and urine samples of the victims. [Full Story]

Opioid Crisis Worsened by Illicitly Manufactured Fentanyl

Dec. 2016 – America’s already serious opioid crisis is being complicated by a new—and deadly—drug. Fentanyl is a powerful pain medication long prescribed for patients with advanced cancer. But now an illicit version of the drug, one that is illegally manufactured, is flooding some communities across the United States, with overdoses and deaths steadily climbing in its wake. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported more than 700 deaths from 2013 to 2014 related to illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). [Ful Story]

DEA Bans a Cousin of Deadly Synthetic Opioid Fentanyl

Nov. 2016 The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday added furanyl fentanyl, a deadly cousin of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, to its most restrictive list of controlled substances. The ban comes as the DEA tries to thwart the fast-evolving market for synthetic opioids, including several fentanyl analogues and relics from old pharmaceutical research like the chemical U-47700. Production and use of illicit synthetic opioids are on the rise. [Full Story]

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