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Cracking Down on Synthetic Drugs

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (FOX28/CBS2)  Its potent, often legal, sometimes deadly and exploding in almost every community in the country. Police say thats what theyre battling as synthetic drugs grow in popularity in Cedar Rapids.

On YouTube you can find hundreds of disturbing videos that show teenagers screaming, kicking, banging their heads against walls and crawling like convulsing dogs as they experience bad trips on synthetics.
Police say thats exactly what theyre finding too when they respond to some calls in the corridor.

Saint Lukes Emergency Room Doctor Nathan Harmon says most of what he sees is leafy material thats sprayed with chemicals and smoked, but hes seeing those whove used it show up in the ER every week, They have really high heart rates, panic attacks, Ive even several people have seizures from it.  It stays in your system for so long sometimes youll see people who use the drug one or two times and theyll be having hallucinations five to seven days later and still have no context of reality. 

Police have raided some shops in the corridor in search of the drugs and recently found two women on First Avenue East, suffering seizures and hallucinations. In police reports, the officers state that both women purchased synthetic drugs at a nearby tobacco outlet. Its become a significant enough problem that police and city leaders are now exploring whether any type of ordinance might help crack down on the sale and possession.

Amanda Grieder with CRPD says the process is just beginning, but they already know its a tough task.  She says the most difficult part is just staying ahead of the drug manufacturers who sell synthetics, They are changing the chemical makeup of the drugs quite often so to keep the included ones separate is difficult because there are so many and theyre constantly changing.

Dr. Harmon echoes that sentiment. He says without any regulations or knowledge of how much chemical is in synthetics, using them is extremely dangerous and restricting them is almost impossible, Basically as fast as the government catches up and makes things illegal, the makers change the formulation to keep it legal.

Some cities in Texas and Florida report limited success cracking down on how shops package the drugs and price them. Grieder says that may be something Cedar Rapids looks at as it moves forward with a possible ordinance. She says the police department hopes to present more information to the public safety committee for discussion next month.

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