A new synthetic substance that is 100 times stronger than cannabis has been causing havoc throughout Europe and experts fear this dangerous drug will find its way to the United States.
The new “psychoactive substance” goes by the name of CHMICA or CHMINACA. It is named after a chemical commonly found in synthetic marijuana, known as AB-CHMINACA. The difference is that CHMICA is much more potent and potentially deadly.
"This is one of the most dangerous synthetic cannabinoids that we have seen in Jersey so far because of the unpredictable and potentially fatal effects it can have," said Michael Gafoor, director of the Alcohol and Drug Service. He went to say that CHMICA has been “linked to several recent deaths and hospitalizations in Europe, mainly Sweden.”
Tragic Outcomes are Common with Synthetics
Europe isn’t the only country experiencing tragedy at the hands of synthetic marijuana.
Connor Eckhardt is one of the more recent deaths linked to synthetic marijuana here in the U.S. He inhaled just one hit of the synthetic dried herbs – herbs that had been sprayed with chemicals to cause a pot-like high. He passed away at the age of 19 after slipping into a coma shortly after smoking the mystery drug.
Eckhardt’s family has since filed a lawsuit against the Santa Ana, California smoke shop where he purchased the designer drug – often sold as “Spice” or “K2”. They claim that Hickory Smoke Shop marketed the product as “safe” and “legal,” while also failing to warn customers about dangerous side effects.
“These substances are not benign,” said Dr. Andrew Monte, lead author of an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. “You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be; compared to traditional marijuana, synthetic pot is up to 1,000 times stronger when binding to cannabis receptors.”
Education is Your Best Weapon
As with all forms of drugs and alcohol, education is your most valuable weapon. Create an honest dialogue with teenagers and make sure they know they can talk to you about these sensitive issues. Let them know that, if you don't have the answers, you will find them...together. It's that open line of communication that can ultimately make a difference and, perhaps, even save a life.
Gafoor said, for anyone using the dangerous synthetic drug CHMICA, it's important they never use alone and always refrain from mixing the synthetic with other substances – including alcohol. He also warns that, if users feel unwell, they should seek emergency medical help immediately.
Parents might also want to discuss the legal ramifications of synthetic pot with teenagers. For example, last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) designated AB-CHMINACA as an “illegal controlled substance due to its being included in numerous synthetic cannabinoids.”
Additionally, Washington D.C. took action last year by labeling all forms of synthetic marijuana as Schedule I drugs. The new classification means that synthetic pot is on equal footing with heroin and crack cocaine – including the same criminal charges and terms of imprisonment for anyone caught making, distributing or importing synthetic pot.
Learn more about the chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs.