DEA Bans Fake Pot; Goats Grateful

Yesterday the Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to impose an emergency ban on the active ingredients in the marijuana substitutes known as K2 or spice. The products consist of dried herbs, ostensibly sold as incense, that have been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids such as JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol. Starting one month from now, those chemicals, originally developed for research purposes, will be treated as Schedule I drugs, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. "Makers of these harmful products mislead their customers into thinking that 'fake pot' is a harmless alternative to illegal drugs, but that is not the case," said acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. "Today’s action will call further attention to the risks of ingesting unknown compounds and will hopefully take away any incentive to try these products." Because that's what happens when you ban drugs: People stop using them.

The emergency ban will last a year, during which the DEA will "further study whether these chemicals and products should be permanently controlled." There's not a lot of suspense about the outcome of that process. But as the Drug Policy Alliance's Tony Newman notes, relegating these substances to the black market, where information and quality will be even less reliable, hardly means they will be "controlled." "The DEA says that prohibiting synthetic marijuana will 'control' it," Newman says. "Yet we know from history that prohibition is the complete opposite of drug control."

The DEA's hasty action in response to complaints about ersatz pot, reminiscent of its swift scheduling of MDMA, contrasts with the wait-and-see approach it has so far taken to Salvia divinorum. Previous Reason coverage of the crackdown on K2/spice, which is already illegal in some cities and states, here. The Drug War Chronicle has more here. The Chronicle's account suggests that the fake stuff may be more hazardous than the real stuff, which highlights the hollowness of the pretense that prohibition protects people from drug-related harm. If that were really the DEA's aim, it would be rescheduling marijuana instead of driving people to riskier alternatives.

Headline explanation here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Dello||

    "Today’s action will call further attention to the risks of ingesting unknown compounds and will hopefully take away any incentive to try these products."

    Luckily the DEA has no say over GM foods...

  • Ted S.||

    I don't think I'd want General Motors foods.

  • Xenocles||

    They have to be able to do something right. Since it's not cars, maybe their food would be worth a shot.

  • Emeril||

    Add a little ground Malibu, and BAM!

  • the right does it too||

    How the phuque does the DEA have the right to ban a goddamn thing? Bite my azz, you brownshirt bastids.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Congress has delegated its legislative ability to bureaucrats in the various agencies.

    Because the Interstate Commerce Clause makes that constitutional for them to do so.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Which assumes you also ascribe to the theory that "K2 or spice" products are interstate commerce.

    & while I know SCOTUS would, I do not (not that my opinion is as impactful as theirs of course).

  • ||

    Which assumes you also ascribe to the theory that "K2 or spice" products anything-and-its-cousin are interstate commerce.

    Ftfy.

  • MY Own Boss||

    If you have NO experience and knowledge of the compound...THEN SHUT UP!!! Attention you are just a ordinary follower who obeys the Master and have no CHARACTER to think for yourself... Ignorant you are...oh if its legal think it is good, Alcohol causes more deaths than any known drug! You are probably a pill popper, get your Nasty pills from the drug dealing doctor. We get the good shit not the Nasty zombie crap you get.

  • the right does it too||

    Just curious as to why you've hurled your spewage in my direction. Hell, I'm with you...or didn't you bother to read the post? Talk about your zombie crap....

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think that was just an angry rant, not necessarily directed at you.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Keep your hands off my Wheaties you damned dirty DEA Ape!

  • Liberal Douchebag||

    It's for your own good. Shut up, and stop questioning the government.

  • MY Own Boss||

    yes um Master. you obey someone else's thoughts, you obey just like a dog obey's it's master...You SHUT UP, and stop questioning other's who wish not to obey like a dog as yourself. Of course you have no experience or knowledge of the compound, you let the government do your thinking for you. If they tell you cars are bad and wrecks kills people and we the government are going to banned them. Bet you would get your panties in a wad. Same principle dumb ass, see there are smart safe drivers and there are smart safe drug users...I bet my life that you have had a drink or a sleeping pill, or a pain killer...But your brainless and could not comprehend the logic of someone who has the ability to think for themself!!!

  • ||

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure you missed the sarcasm.

    Don't worry. It happens to all of us once in a while.

  • Grammar Police||

    ...nah, too easy.

  • Social Conservative Douchebag||

    It's for your own good. Shut up, and stop questioning the government.

  • hmm||

    Douchebag^2

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Douchebags a'plenty!

  • hmm||

    Why not just go get a bag. It's not like it takes more than 20 minutes in a city where you know no one to get pot.

  • BakedPenguin||

    You have better skills than a lot of people, apparently.

    I suspect part of the big attraction was that people could buy K2 legally.

  • hmm||

    Not really. It just isn't that hard.

  • Coeus||

    Not really. It just isn't that hard.

    A walking city, yes. A spread-out city's a bit more difficult.

  • ||

    Most dealers deliver, dude.

  • Coeus||

    I thought we were talking about a city you've never been to before. In which case you wouldn't have a phone #, would you? In any event, I agree with hmm as long as we're talking about a dense city with public transport.

  • C'mon man||

    Bar, neighbor, co-worker. 6 degrees to get high. Meet 6 people and one of them will at the very least know someone who gets high.

    And, of course, if you are in a growing number of cities, find a doctor.

  • hmm||

    There's someone that understands how it works...

  • hmm||

    It's also called a market middleman, bob knows frank who knows steve who deals. Bob and frank add value by making it easier for the looker, steve already has his markup.

    If anyone understands this it should be libertarians.

  • Coeus||

    Are we still talking about 20 minutes in any city? Cause this sounds a little time consuming, and a bit more difficult. If we're talking about a walking city, that's different. It's ridiculously easy up north in the states, and also in Western Europe (although there it's usually hash).

  • l0b0t||

    Also, in Europe one must be wary as the weedy gits like to mix their hash with tobacco. For those of us that do not like the cigarettes, that can come as a nauseating, lung searing surprise.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What Coeus said. Maybe you could find weed in 30 minutes in Orlando, Jacksonville, Atlanta, or Dallas-FW, hmm. I sure as hell couldn't.

    What's funny is that when I had long hair in the late 80's, early 90's, guys were constantly coming up to me to ask if I knew where to get weed. I always said no, since until I know you, and your five closest freinds and/or family members, I'm assuming you're a cop or working for them.

    And Europe was easy. In London, go to Camden market, or just walk around the area near a show for a little bit.

  • Coeus||

    I suspect part of the big attraction was that people could buy K2 legally.

    Actually, I think it had more to do with it not showing up on a drug test.

  • Plannin on smokin & drivin?||

  • ||

    Speak for yourself. I have no idea where to get pot in a city where I had grown up and lived for twenty-one years. I'm just too square to know where to get pot.

  • ||

    Step 1: Drive to gas station.
    Step 2: Ask any person under the age of 25 not wearing a bowtie or police costume where you can buy some weed.

  • C'mon man||

    Actually, find a mall. Teh kids get the really good "shit." As far as I can remember, pot was readily available in high school. Drug distributors pay somewhat better than minimum wage.

  • Joe R.||

    And they discuss this with 40 year old dudes they don't know? Maybe they do, I'd never try.

  • ||

    As long as you're not a total square, then yeah. Kids like to brag about shit.

    Also, you could just go to a 7-11 or a smoke shop and buy some papers. Then ask the clerk where to get some weed. I doubt they'd call the police.

  • C'mon man||

    First of all, that was a fucking joke, albeit a point-making one. But, yeah, if you're 40, see 6 degrees above.

    This is the reason a 40 year old adult should be able to pick up some pot at the convenient store from behind the counter along with a six-pack of, say, Modello.

    This would cut down on the availability of "the chronic" to school children from 15 year-old "dealers" in their schools and neighborhoods.Yeah?

  • Prohibition Kills||

    Stop making sense.

  • Hard On For Liberty||

    How will this cut down on the availability to school children?

    Dealers will just resell weed from the stores.

    Supply and demand, baby.

    Legalize it completely. No fucking restrictions. It's a fucking plant for Christ's sake.

  • Hard On For Liberty||

    How will this cut down on the availability to school children?

    Dealers will just resell weed from the stores.

    Supply and demand, baby.

    Legalize it completely. No fucking restrictions. It's a fucking plant for Christ's sake.

  • Ted S.||

    Ah, but it's hip to be square.

  • hmm||

    It has nothing to do with who you know. It isn't hard to start from zero and get to pot. I assume you dress yourself and function at a level high enough to posit questions to others. Given those assumptions you can get stoned anywhere in the US with relative ease.

  • Ray Ray||

    Um. What is this, the 70s? I don't want to go smoke a doob with 5 strangers. It may be easy to "find someone who smokes pot" but where I come from if you ask a stranger for a hook up you'll get to pay double for it TOMORROW.

  • hmm||

    You need better people skills?

  • ||

    I don't want to work on my people skills though. I don't need people skills to go to the grocery store or the liquor store, so...

  • C'mon man||

    This fact is the ridiculous stoned elephant in the room. Drugs are readily available. It sure as fuck isn't just pot.

    One of my favorite shows to watch is How It's Made. I get a kick out of the massive amount and variety of goods we produce and deliver to market. But what's even more impressive than the market is the black market. The ingenuity and risk to get drugs to market is unbelievable. Luckily, the government theatrically stops, what, 3 percent from making it to market?

    But hey, we helped facilitate the demise of Pablo, so we won the war on cocaine. Or, did someone replace Pablo's services?

  • ||

    Happy Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for the real stuff and a semi-reliable (for now) connection it.

  • ||

    ...connection FOR it. And I haven't even had any today yet...

  • C'mon man||

    So much for enhancing the leftovers times 20. I heard and stuff.

  • hmm||

    Threadjack. Nigel Farage, at it again. EU is fucked, I was right, you lose.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fyq7WRr_GPg

  • North Korea no way||

    North Korea Artillery Attack Explained
    http://youtu.be/LnlFPeWKQWc

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This is sure to do only 1 thing: drive those who smoked this instead of pot towards smoking pot.

    Good job, DEA.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Not necessarily; some of those with very little money might choose to huff glue or paint instead.

  • Almanian||

    Does anyone do locker room cleaner any more? What was that stuff, something nitrate?

    Nasty shit - did it once when I was tripping....pffffpt....felt like a Darwin Award semi-finalist after that! Good times, good times...

    Anyway, Thanks for Nothing, once again, Federal Government!

  • ||

  • BakedPenguin||

    Does anyone do locker room cleaner any more?

    I think you mean "locker room" - aka Poppers, or amyl nitrate. Another common one was engine starter fluid, which usually has ether in it.

  • SIV||

    Don't smoke around ether.

  • ||

    Thanks for the info. I was ready to smoke some ether.

  • BakedPenguin||

    You probably shouldn't smoke around any inhalants, but yeah, ether is especially volatile & flammable. For the same reasons, it's also a good idea to have plenty of ventilation.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    A question . . .

    Why is it so bad to choose something other than alcohol for social use? God forbid someone want to do something other than get drunk while poisoning onself.

    Why do we have this "if it isn't for medical purposes it's ban-worthy" attitude? Why the fuck is this stuff so bad that it needs to be banned. I mean, I haven't even read any of the scare stories (a la 4Loko) concerning this stuff yet. Or is it just because it gets you high(ish)?

    Man, fuck the DEA and the culture we live in which leads to things like the fucking DEA.

  • Coeus||

    Or is it just because it gets you high(ish)?

    They basically admitted their reasoning was thus after they passed the Analog Drug Act.

  • ||

    Revenge of the Katz

    If violence is the last recourse of the incompetent, it is tempting to wonder what ad hominem attacks on 'straw men' in cyberspace might be.

    Irish coffee is not sold pre-packaged in cans emblazoned with marketing collateral very clearly directed at youth (I trust you have actually seen a Four Loko can? You recognize that the marketing is not directed at you, or your followers on this site, right?). Irish coffee is made at home, or in a bar- and served to adults. The drinks currently under scrutiny are very clearly marketed to young adults- if not underage drinkers- with a sole intent of helping them get drunker than they otherwise might manage.

    Since you malign the statistical significance of the single death I cite, I respectfully ask a question of you: what mortality rate would you require before having second thoughts about these products, and the focus of their well-funded marketing?

    And to think I defended his fashion sense.

  • hmm||

    Another man who knows what the world needs. I swear the more initialisms before and after a person's name the more they think they know what is best for all.

  • Almanian||

    PS I'm totally bringin' some Four Loko back from OH for Christmas, since it's all "banned" in MI now. Hear it tastes like shit - but the temptation of forbidden fruit is there, so we'll be rockin' Four Loko at the Almanian household over Christmas.

    Suck it, Michigan!

  • SIV||

    ou recognize that the marketing is not directed at you, or your followers on this site, right?).

    Clearly Doctor Katz has never dropped in on one of the "hemp" threads

  • ||

    It's for our own good. Shut up, grow up, and stop questioning the government.

  • ||

    what mortality rate would you require before having second thoughts about these products

    Let's try to get a realistic view of the causation first, shall we?

    Or is that too hard?

    Similarly, what actual evil effect are we attempting to "save" the users of K2 from?

  • BakedPenguin||

    I posted this on one of the many Four Loko threads, but how many young adults have died during the same time span doing stupid things after drinking beer, wine, or hard liquor? (Or drinking too much of any of the above?)

    Of course, those don't make the news, because they're not Four Loko.

  • Ted S.||

    That's because Four Loko is drunk by the evil Snooki Class.

    Bigotry is acceptable in America, as long as it's metropolitan upper-middle class bigotry against the "little" people.

  • SIV||

    Similarly, what actual evil effect are we attempting to "save" the users of K2 from?

    K2/Spice was legal and users can pass a drug test. If their abuse can't be detected how can "society" punish help them?

  • Kolohe||

    Not sure of the drug test thing; Spice has been prohibited in the military for about a year, and there's been a few sailors and soldiers that have separated for using it.

  • SIV||

    The "pass your drug test" is why it was so appealing to those serving in the military. I assume those who got in trouble were caught in possession of the stuff.

  • Coeus||

    Ya, but I think it's a special test. Not in your standard employment 5-panel, which is all most people have to deal with.

  • Anonymous||

    Military drug tests can go beyond the 5-panel, but not all of them routinely do so. Plus, JWH-### has a much shorter detectable life in drug tests than THC even when it's specifically looked for.

  • botoxporcupine||

    Redwood Toxicology has developed a test for it, but not many others have.

    Three day (max) detection period, for those of you wondering.

  • ||

    Marijuana causes skateboarding, too.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    Well, now you're making me completely rethink my position...

  • John Smith||

    "If that were really the DEA's aim, it would be rescheduling marijuana instead of driving people to riskier alternatives."

    This is far too logical. The anti drug zealots wouldn't like this.

  • Officer Krupke||

    nobody has fun on my watch

  • Uncle Sam||

    Ditto.

  • Mike E||

    How does an administrative agency get to decide what is illegal?

  • ||

    They're statist jackbooted assholes. That's how.

  • Nash||

    "Emergency Powers" of course. See how that works? In an emergency we throw the constitution and democracy out the window.

    If we don't act now 50 people out of 300 million might get sick next year from these substances.

    Forget the fact the states can constitutionally ban these things (many have) if they really feel like it's a serious threat. We're gonna double down and ban it too. Unreasonable redundancy.

  • ||

    If we don't act now 50 people out of 300 million might get sick next year from these substances.

    Wait, they're banning aspirin? FINALLY!

  • Mr Whipple||

    Because the country is run by bureaucrats and embedded special interests, not elected officials. The Congress writes the laws, and the Judicial bureaucrats and regulators, interpret the laws. It's called: Totalitarian Democracy. Please make a note of it.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    Because you don't want obstructionists in Congress to get in the way of protecting people from dangerous substances.

  • LarryA||

    "Makers of these harmful products mislead their customers into thinking that 'fake pot' is a harmless alternative to illegal drugs, but that is not the case,"

    It could hardly be less harmless than pot.

    "Today’s action will call further attention to the risks of ingesting unknown compounds..."

    Or you could require that ingredients be listed on the package, like most other legal substances.

  • Anonymous||

    To be fair, there are actual problems with the JWH compounds; -018 and -071 in particular have a naphtha ring that almost certainly takes a really nasty metabolic route.

    I know many people who smoked this stuff a lot because of drug tests or price concerns. I won't be surprised in the least if we see a spike in pancreatic cancer years down the line that's traceable to these compounds. Research chemicals are just that, and using them as a substitute for a habitual drug like pot is a terrible idea.

    Of course, in a just world, marijuana would be legal in the first place so there wouldn't be any need for people to seek out a potentially poisonous synthetic alternative.

  • My own Boss||

    Agree, sad but true at least the users are being legal. They legally purchased the compound. The ignorant and dumb failed to research and got into trouble and ruined it for the smarter and safer users. I have insomnia and the only thing I can use with no side effects and can wake up on time for work is MARIJUANA. The nasty drugs from the doctor makes me a zombie and loopy the next day and can't hardly wake up the next morning for work not to mention to horrid dreams. I can't smoke pot cause of drug testing at work, can't function on the dope from the drug dealing doctors. So I found this JWH compound and played it as safety as possible, and to my surprise works just like Pot, and I can go to sleep and wake up and be just fine...So this message is a reply to your quote " Of course, in a just world, marijuana would be legal in the first place so there wouldn't be any need for people to seek out a potentially poisonous synthetic alternative."

  • ||

    OH well time to find something else

  • Hubert J. Farnsworth||

    I don't want to live on this planet anymore

  • botoxporcupine||

    +1000

  • Winston Smith||

    "There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the DEA plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

  • Winston Smith||

    When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not destroy the drug abuser because he resists us; so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We rehabilitate him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all drugs and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul. We make him one of ourselves before we kill him. It is intolerable to us that a drug should exist anywhere in the world, however secret and powerless it may be

  • Winston Smith||

    "How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Drugs are not evil."
    "Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are Evil. Sometimes they are Good. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane."

  • botoxporcupine||

    Fucking excellent.

  • Hacha Cha||

    Its bs. These are used in medical research. At least there seems to be an infinite amount of synthetic and natural cannabinoids that can and will take the place of these 5.

  • ||

    I want to setup a business where I extract the endo-canabinoids from human subjects. Should be completely invisible to drug testing, and I just have to keep like 100 people bound and starving to extract enough to keep me buzzed all day. Muwahahahahaha

  • Hacha Cha||

    Why bother extracting from people/animals when there are so many plants and insects that contain endocannabinoids?

  • fdgfd||

    Hello. My friend

    === http://www.aeooe.com ===

    Dedicated service, the new style, so you feel like a warm autumn!!!

    WE ACCEPT PYAPAL PAYMENT

    YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!!

    thank you !!!

    === http://www.aeooe.com ===

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement