Drug Policy

The DEA Pretends to Have Fake Pot Under Control


The Drug Enforcement Administration's "emergency" ban on five chemicals used to make ersatz marijuana took effect on Tuesday. The Drug War Chronicle reports that the ban, which was originally scheduled to begin in December, was delayed because of legal challenges by fake-pot retailers. The DEA says it is trying to "avoid an imminent threat to the public safety," as reflected in "an increasing number of reports from poison control centers, hospitals and law enforcement regarding these products." Reported side effects include "anxiety attacks, dangerously elevated heart rates, increased blood pressure, vomiting, and disorientation." (As the Chronicle notes, these are similar to the symptoms reported by a small percentage of marijuana users.) DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart adds:

Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous "fake pot" products and wrongly equate the products' "legal" retail availability with being "safe." Parents and community leaders look to us to help them protect their kids, and we have not let them down.

Leonhart is right that it would be foolish to think there is anything especially dangerous about the intoxicants the government chooses to ban, or especially safe about the ones it tolerates. But if parents expect the DEA's edict to make fake pot disappear, they may be disappointed. The DEA's order covers five chemicals that have been detected in "incense" products like K2 and Spice: JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol. But the scientist who created three of these compounds says there are many legal substances that can simulate the effects of THC, and last fall the Associated Press reported that manufacturers already had substitutes lined up. The makers of K2 boast that "our new blends are 100% legal everywhere and not covered by the new bans!"

Even if the DEA's ban had not been so blatantly pre-empted, Leonhart's sense of her own power in these matters would border on the delusional. The headline over the DEA's press release says the "chemicals used in 'Spice' and 'K2' type products" are "now under federal control and regulation." Just like real marijuana?

More on fake pot here.

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  1. Wow, this is a relief. I’ll be able to sleep soundly tonight.

    Thanks, DEA!

  2. So when do you think the DEA will model glue and white-out?

    1. Give Me A Ban!

      1. Mr. Sullum, do you think we should legalize cocaine, heroine, and meth?

        1. Speaking on behalf of myself, yes.

          1. Will the rebuttal be:

            But then everyone will be high all the time!! DOOOOOM!!!!


            So you want children dying in the streets?! DOOOOOOM!!!!

          2. Heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine were less of a “problem” back when they were legal.

            1. Right, keep telling yourself that. I don’t like the drug war, but you’re silly to think that those 3 drugs should or could ever be legal. It’s hard to find serious folks that believe the reefer should legal, and get them on the record saying that cocaine should be legal. The people that comment here still believe in the tooth fairy and can’t really be taken seriously.

        2. Speaking only for my sane, rational and liberty loving self, yes for adults (18+).

          How many years of failure, tilting at windmills and ordering the tides about do we have to endure before recognizing that the War on Drugs is over. Drugs won.

        3. I would love to hear an argument as to why those things should remain illegal.

          1. garble garble TEH CHILDRENZ!1!! garble garble.

        4. Isn’t Pat the guy with the Roseanne Barr fetish?

          1. I don’t have a fetish, I just don’t think a pig like that should be paid to sell Snickers bars. What’s wrong Snickers? Would want your product associated with a cunt like that? I like to go to Baseball-Reference.com, because I love baseball. However they have Rosanne Barge’s picture up while you’re looking at Ryne Sandberg’s stats. It sucks. I’d like to hear Mr. Sullum say that he thinks cocaine should be legal.

            1. I told you that those ads are targeted specifically for you…no one else sees them. Every time that you type “Roseanne Barr nude pics” into the google it remembers and makes a note of it. Then when you go to your favorite sites the algorithm matches your favorite interests and creates ads tailored to you. Based on your feigned outrage about these ads I can confidently conclude that you enjoy baseball, eating candy bars, and have a Roseanne Barr fetish.

              It’s all in the algorithms, man.

              Given Mr. Sullum’s body of work, and I hate to speak for him here, I am sure he would prefer for cocaine to be legal. Sullum doesn’t seem to bashful in his distaste for the drug war.

        5. I love how there is always someone who will pull this bullshit out as if it is some sort of trump card that is going to blow everyone’s mind.

          1. Cocaine’s a hell of a drug!

  3. this poster from the 1950s should be in every classroom in America.


    It is a threadjack. But it is too late for morning links.

  4. Are regulatory agencies really allowed to just ban products by decree?

    I feel like there’s something very wrong with this but it’s way too late to stop it.

    1. Are you suggesting that Congress has violated the separation of powers by delegating it’s legislative responsibility to an agency of the executive branch ?

      1. Yes, and I think they have a responsibility to ban anything that is intoxicating.

        1. Why do you want to ban Jessica Biel?

        2. “”Yes, and I think they have a responsibility to ban anything that is intoxicating.””

          To many, nothing is more intoxicating than the ability to wield power. Perhaps they should ban themselves.

        3. Let me guess, your last name is Volstead and you’re partying like it’s 1919.

  5. Reported side effects include “anxiety attacks, dangerously elevated heart rates, increased blood pressure, vomiting, and disorientation.”

    I get those side effects from work. Maybe the DEA can ban that?

    1. disorientation

      I don’t think that’s a side effect, exactly. . . .

  6. Given that chemistry is pretty basic knowledge for an industrial society, why does the government and its cheerleaders believe that they can actually stop or even keep up with the creation of new mind/body-altering substances?

    On top of that, in the Internet Age one needn’t even know basic chemistry. You just go online and find someone else who has already done the homework.

    1. You just go online and find someone else who has already done the homework.

      Which is why we at the FCC need more regulatory power over the internet.

  7. an increasing number of reports from poison control centers, hospitals and law enforcement regarding these products.

    How many reports? Over what time frame?

    Did they increase from two every month to six every month, nationwide?

    1. I think they are applying some 1984 logic. The reports increased from once a week to two times a month.

  8. At least with these they have a chance of stopping it before it becomes popular, real pot is already out of the bag.

    1. You can’t stop what people want.

      1. I think that most people smoking this stuff really just want pot.

    2. No. Some of it is still in the bag.

      1. Well I have a grinder and a new bong, what are you waiting for?

    3. Are you kidding Frank? The DEA didn’t really know about it until it became popular.

  9. Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous “fake pot” products and wrongly equate the products’ “legal” retail availability with being “safe.”

    Yeah, the reason kids buy fake pot is because they think real pot is unsafe. Nothing to do with the fear of getting in trouble with the law.

    1. “getting in trouble with the law” sounds like a valid definition of “unsafe” to me.

      1. When “going to jail” is the worst side effect possible for a given activity, you know some shit is just plain fucked up.

  10. God! Is it time already for my “FUCK YOU, that’s why” comment again?

    More importantly, does Frank work for for the FDA or are those his initials? Further, is he the new juanita? (I know there can only be one in your heart J sub). Or is he kidding?

  11. we be likin bans n shit

  12. In other news, “White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske says he feels encouraged that Florida will move forward with a planned statewide database for tracking prescription drugs.”

    And off topic, Fla. justices hear high speed rail dispute.

    Has Rick Scott opened a can of worms or a CAN OF WHOOPASS? I think it’s the can of whoopass, the only question is whose?

    1. Vote for us! We are so much better on civil liberties!

  13. This fake pot reminds me of Star Trek the Next Generation when they defeated the Borg. Remember: “Resistance Is Futile”. The crew, actually Jordi worked out an idea where they would modulate the shields and weapons so quickly it confused the Borg and kept them busy while the Enterprise went about annihilating the entire Borg hive. A DEA spokeswoman admitted the agency does not have the resources to “study” all of the chemicals synthetic marijuana can be made with. The agency has billions yet that is not enough. Apparently resistance isn’t futile.

  14. I’m smoking a replacement product right now. I’ve never suffered ANY of those symptoms with the old stuff or the new stuff. The head shop puts on these nice stickers on the packaging stating that it doesn’t contain any of the banned ones in case a police officer gets uppity. I trust those guys far more than the government.

    1. I don’t know how sure I would be about forthrightness and honesty from the companies producing k2. It’s certainly a grey market and profit margins are huge, again thanks pot being illegal.

      Marijuana is a plant. I can easily grow this plant and I can be pretty sure most pot is grown pretty much the same way. With k2 I don’t have that certainty. You can order the chemicals in their pure form, but again, you have to either be a chemist or just trust the companies.

      Messing with research chemicals can be a lot of fun. Though it seems the popularity of untested chemicals and mysterious herbal blends is just because people want to smoke some pot.

      Shouldn’t be illegal, but the market for it likely wouldn’t exist if marijuana were legal.

  15. I don’t think Leonhart was anywhere near delusional. “Control” is just a legal status, not a matter of fact. The word has many meanings. Traffic signs are also called “controls”; it’s not like they’re actually at the controls of the vehicles.

  16. There are literally thousands of cannabinoids, many that are much more potent, than the 5 (4 but one has its isomers listed separately) banned. Many are synthetic, some semi-synthetic, others natural ones besides those in cannabis. They can’t ban them all, you would have to ban common food products to ban some of the fatty acid amides and their derivatives. Its a cat and mouse game where the DEA always loses.

  17. There are legitimate medical uses that must be investigated. I have used it for pain relief, I know AIDS and MS patients in states without medical marijuana laws that turned to these synthetic chemicals for relief. Like hell they have “no medical use”! Fuck the DEA and the DHHS!

  18. Has anyone alerted the Partnership for a Drug Free America about this? I’m sure their faces will get pinched up over this development. I can just see those jowls tightening now. They are not going to be happy about this. Power is the most difficult habit to kick. That intervention is going to take Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew. In the past they could always count on the DEA and the criminal justice system to take down the users, Now; not so much. Instead the DEA is asking the users to apply good judgment.

  19. When will we learn that drug prohibition is absolutely futile especially in the case of k2 herb products? Not all of this k2 incense stuff is illegal. They are constantly reformulating it to get around these bans so people will continue to legally buy k2 products and I guess the big dogs will continue to waste money on chasing it down.

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