The Washington State Department of Health stated that the drug, also known as K2 among other names, is a type of synthetic marijuana. The drug, which contains cannabinoids similar to the THC contained in marijuana, is sprayed onto incense.
Las Cruces Public Schools certified psychologist Jeremy Baldillez, in a column published in the Silver City Sun-News newspaper of Silver City, N.M., said the drug is highly popular among youth who smoke it. They can buy the incense legally as it is marketed as natural incense "not for human consumption."
The Galveston Daily News said sales have skyrocketed at convenience stores and on the Internet.
Dr. Kathryn Cunningham, director of the Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch, told the Daily News that the drug became popular in early 2010. It is widely available and does not show up in drug tests because toxicologists can not identify various chemical combinations in different brands.
Side effects include agitation, anxiety, vomiting, elevated blood pressure, seizures and hallucinations. Authorities told the Daily News that there have been case reports of psychotic episodes, withdrawal and dependence.
Wyoming's Trib.com said that as of late September the American Association of Poison Control Centers had reported receiving more than 1,500 calls from 48 states and the District of Columbia related to products containing the drugs.
Trib.com reported the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration placed a ban on five chemicals used in these herbal blends. The ban, which took effect on Dec. 24, is to last 12 months while the agency studies whether a more permanent ban should be put in place.
All stores and websites must stop selling the incense if it contains any of the five chemical compounds.
Meanwhile the Washington State Board of Pharmacy has also banned the sale and possession of the products, the Washington State Department of Health announced.
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