New Types of Synthetic "Cocaine" and "Marijuana" Challenge Florida Lawmakers

In the past few years, Florida lawmakers have passed laws banning synthetic compounds meant to mimic the effects of drugs like marijuana and cocaine, but chemists are staying one step ahead. In response to a law passed last year that outlawed a type of synthetic cocaine-like substance that was marketed as "bath salts," companies producing the product just slightly altered their formulations and began selling again. Now the state legislature is considering a law that would allow the state to stay ahead of the chemists.

Laws taking aim at the synthetic drugs haven't been too effective. Just last week CBS Miami found a synthetic form of cannabis being sold throughout South Florida as an incense. Synthetic "cocaine" sold as bath salts have also popped up back on the market.

"They're miles ahead. They're not just steps anymore," Chip Walls, a forensic toxicologist at the University of Miami, told the station. "Problem is, they're changing (ingredients) as fast as the government is putting them on a controlled substance list."

Today, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and several law enforcement officials announced their support of a bill that they believe would help the state stay ahead of the chemists.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Clay Ingram, says that several reports in his home district of teenagers getting into trouble with the drugs made him move on the measure. Three high schoolers in Charlotte County were hospitalized after overdosing on the drugs and another was restrained after chasing his father around the house with a machete while hallucinating, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

"The highs they saw with the kids were different than what they had seen before," Ingram said today at a press conference.

The new bill would ban several more substances and combinations of substances that chemists could use to mimic the effects.

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