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The war on synthetic cannabinoids wages on

The Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) confirmed on Tuesday, Feb. 28, that in 2013, the drug compound 5F-PB-22 was responsible for the death of three Iowans in their late teens and early twenties.

Synthetic cannabinoids continue to plague the nation, even with tough laws, Iowans are still risking their lives with these drugs.

In the past several years, the House Public Safety Committee has focused on stopping synthetic drug use in Iowa.

Synthetic cannabinoids are often sold as “fake weed” or K2 or Spice. They are created by using a mixture of chemicals sprayed on dried plants.

These products are marketed as a “legal high” and sometimes are disguised as plant food and incense. Unfortunately, no one knows what actually goes in to these products. The manufacturers constantly change the chemical compounds, in an attempt to keep their dangerous product on the market.

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Agency used emergency action to ban four new synthetic cannabinoids, including the compound that was responsible for the death of three Iowans. Soon, the DEA could add another ten new substances to the list. In Iowa, the board of pharmacy is working with state officials to add these compounds to the banned list in Iowa.

Even with the bans in place, these dangerous drugs are easy to come by and parents need to be aware of identifiers and symptoms of synthetic drug use.

According to the ODCP, the following items are identifiers: rolling papers or marijuana paraphernalia (including pipes and bongs), small packages that may be labeled as incense, plant food, jewelry clearer, bath salts or potpourri.

These drugs can cause a range of symptoms in a person from rapid heart rate and agitation to vomiting, confusion, extreme anxiety, hallucinations, seizures and suicidal thoughts or actions.

If you are concerned that a person has ingested any of these drugs you are urged to call 800-222-1222 and you will be routed to your local poison control center. In case of emergency, you should always dial 9-1-1 first.

The Iowa Legislature, ODCP and pharmacy board are working hard to keep these dangerous drugs off the streets, but with the constant chemical changes made by these companies to skirt the law and endanger everyone, it is a difficult battle.

Please join me at one of my legislative coffees during the course of the 2014 legislative session.

Legislative forum events

• Friday, Feb. 28

Noon – Lakeside Casino in Osceola

• Friday, March 28

Noon – Lakeside Casino in Osceola

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