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Fake Pot Once Again for Sale in Georgia Despite Ban

Synthetic marijuana sliderPackages of synthetic marijuana are once again available for sale legally, despite a law passed in March banning the drug, because manufacturers found a way around the ban, WSAV-TV in Savannah reports.

As The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange reported last spring, synthetic marijuana, often known by the brand names K-2 or Spice, is created by spraying dried plant matter with a synthetic cannabanoid, a chemical that mimics the effects of THC, the psychoactive chemical that gives marijuana users their high. Lawmakers believed the legislation banning the drug—which made illegal the base chemical formula and any alterations of that formula—would close a loophole manufacturers of fake pot had used to skirt previous bans.

"We identified the base formula,” state Senator Buddy Carter told WSAV-TV. “We said any deviation, any alteration of the base formula, would be illegal. That worked for a while. Unfortunately what they've done is they've changed the base formula.”

The new chemical formulation is apparently not covered by the existing ban.

Health risks abound for users of synthetic marijuana, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Yesterday, the first death in Georgia linked to fake pot was identified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) chief medical examiner, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported. A 16-year-old from Fayette County, Ga. lost consciousness and drowned after smoking the drug in his parents’ hot tub.

Carter told WSAV-TV that GBI chemists are working on the problem and the state legislature will take up the issue during the next session beginning in January 2013.

"We're going to continue to fight this battle until we win, and we will win," he said.

Photo by John Fleming | JJIE.org

Frequent Marijuana Use Among Teens is Up

A joint. JJIE file photo. Ryan Schill / JJIE.orgHeavy marijuana use among teens has increased drastically in recent years, with nearly one in 10 sparking up 20 times or more each month, according to a new survey of young Americans released this morning.

The findings represent nearly an 80 percent increase in past-month heavy marijuana use among high school aged youth since 2008.

Overall, the rate of marijuana use among teens has increased. Past month marijuana users, or teens that have used marijuana in the month prior to the survey, increased 42 percent, to 27 percent of teens, compared to 2008 findings. Past-year and lifetime use also increased, but not as drastically, at 26 percent and 21 percent respectively.

Marijuana use has not been this widespread among American teens since 1998, when the past-month usage rate hovered around 27 percent, according the survey conducted by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation.

“Heavy use of marijuana – particularly beginning in adolescence – brings the risk of serious problems and our data show it is linked to involvement with alcohol and other drugs as well,” Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, said in a press release. “Kids who begin using drugs or alcohol as teenagers are more likely to struggle with substance use disorders when compared to those who start using after the teenage years.”

The use of marijuana is becoming normalized among teens, too, according to the survey of 3,322 teen-aged students in grades 9-12 and 821 parents. Seventy-one percent of teens said they have friends who use the drug, up 64 percent from 2008, and only 26 percent agreed with the statement, “in my school, most teens don’t smoke marijuana.”

Still, while the number of teens who have used marijuana in their lifetime is on the rise, less than half of high school aged students have actually used the drug. The rate of teens who disapproved of their peer’s use of the drug remained unchanged since 2008, with more than 60 percent disapproving of the practice – and 41 percent who said they “strongly disapprove.”

Heavy users  are drastically more likely to use other drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy and prescription drugs, compared to their peers who reported not using marijuana in the past year, the report found.

Teen boys, especially Hispanic males, have led the increase in the past year. Heavy usage by teen boys usage increased at nearly twice the rate of their female counterparts. Hispanic high school males are more likely to have used marijuana in the past year compared to their peers. Fifty percent reported using the drug in the past year, compared to 40 percent of black and 35 percent of white teens.

“The latest findings showing an increase in marijuana use among teens is unsettling and should serve as a wake-up call to everyone in a position to prevent unhealthy behavior,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation, who contributed to the report. “While it may be difficult to clearly understand just how dangerous marijuana use can be for teens, it is imperative that we all pay attention to the warning signs and intervene anyway we can.”

The findings are part of the 23rd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, a yearly gauge of teens’ and parents’ attitudes toward issues that affect their lives.

 

Photo credit: Ryan Schill/JJIE