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 Degenerate Iowa officials launch campaign to combat legal synthetic drugs and to demonize the manufacturers

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Degenerate Iowa officials launch campaign to combat legal synthetic drugs and to demonize the manufacturers Vide
PostSubject: Degenerate Iowa officials launch campaign to combat legal synthetic drugs and to demonize the manufacturers   Degenerate Iowa officials launch campaign to combat legal synthetic drugs and to demonize the manufacturers Icon_minitimeWed May 09, 2012 6:30 am

Iowa officials hope that by pairing legislation and education, progress will be made in dealing with the growing problem of synthetic drugs.

Officials representing law enforcement, public health and drug control policy presented a new public education campaign Monday designed to warn both teenagers and parents of the products’ dangers.

Also Monday, the Senate passed a bill that officials believe will make it more difficult — although not impossible — for illegal drug manufacturers to alter ingredients to get around the law. The bill passed, 45-0.

The Speak Out Against Synthetic Drugs campaign provides public service messages designed to help parents and others with influence talk to children.

Officials encouraged parents to warn children about the risks of synthetic drugs, particularly because many are so dangerous without being illegal.

Mike and Jan Rozga sat in the audience as officials talked about the campaign. It’s been 23 months since the Rozgas’ son David took his own life after he smoked K2, a variety of synthetic marijuana, and was overwhelmed with anxiety and hallucinations.

And the Rozgas said they wished they’d had the information two years ago that they are now working to make sure other parents know.

But two years ago few knew much about synthetic drugs.

“We would have had those conversations with him,” Jan Rozga said. “We had conversations about everything else. The difference is, now parents can be armed with that information.”

Education is particularly important, officials said, because legislation is unlikely to keep pace with the production of new compounds.

“We can’t rely on legislation, particularly with a drug control issue as fast-paced as this,” said Dale Woolery, the interim director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. “That’s why education is so important. They complement each other.”

The issue policymakers contend with is the ease with which synthetic drugs can be altered and the specificity of the banned definitions. Laws ban specific compounds. But drug manufacturers can simply tweak their recipe just enough to get around that definition but retain all the potent effects of the original drug.

The products are often marketed as bath salts or incense and sold at convenience stores, though an increasing number of retailers are refusing to carry them. Side effects have included rapid heart rate, seizures, anxiety, intense hallucinations, paranoia and suicidal tendencies.

“It’s a daunting challenge for law enforcement,” said Kevin Frampton, the director of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement. “We will continue to enforce the law, but it isn’t enough.”

Mike Rozga said he wants to make sure parents understand the substances are still on the market, despite existing bans.

And officials are particularly concerned because the problem seems to be growing.

This school year has brought two instances of groups of Des Moines high school students being hospitalized after smoking a synthetic drug. Officials have identified 29 different varieties of synthetic drugs since November 2011, more than three times the number of compounds currently banned.

Officials at the state crime lab have identified synthetic drugs in 920 cases during that time in 53 counties and those numbers don’t include the crime lab’s significant backlog of potential synthetic drug cases, officials said.

According to the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center, in December 2011, hospitals reported 30 incidents where a patient came in suffering from symptoms related to synthetic drugs. That’s up from zero in August of 2010.

“We’re staring into the faces of monsters,” Jan Rozga said. “So we have to be just as determined as the people manufacturing these drugs. More determined.”

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120508/NEWS/305080051/Iowa-officials-launch-campaign-combat-synthetic-drugs?odyssey=mod|mostview

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