The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report today showing that synthetic marijuana products — also known as herbal incense, aromatic potpourri, spice or K2 — caused serious kidney damage in at least 16 people last year. In 15 of the 16 cases, the patients were males ages 15-33 with no history of kidney disease. This is just the latest evidence of the terrible damage that “designer drugs” — which, in the case of fake marijuana, are plant materials sprayed with chemicals meant to mimic the effects of cannabis — can cause.
The most cursory review of news stories demonstrates the wake of death, violence and debilitating injuries that synthetic marijuana has left in its path. In fact, there are entire blogs dedicated to memorializing those who died from synthetic marijuana use. Despite local, state and national efforts to ban these products and targeted efforts by the DEA to enforce such bans, these products are still readily available for purchase online. Anyone with an Internet connection and a credit card can have these dangerous products at their doorstep within days or sometimes hours.
LegitScript is trying to change that. We track designer drugs and report them to major Internet platforms so that they can be removed from advertising or selling on the largest platforms. About 2,500 “psychoactive highs” are cataloged in LegitScript’s database, with more being added on a daily or weekly basis. The manufacturers of these products are clever and are constantly changing the benign-sounding products to slip through Internet filters and past parental controls. Product names range from Shoe Storage Odor Absorption Pellets to Garbage Disposal Cleaner, Glass Scratch Remover, Avalanche Multipurpose Solution and Blemish Remover. While those names generally refer to “bath salts” (i.e., synthetic stimulants), the herbal incense folks are just as clever, using code words to sell their wares, including Devil’s Lettuce, Wizard Smoke and Happy Blaze.
Another recent trend has been towards “poppers,” a slang term for alkyl nitrites and other chemicals, which are inhaled for psychoactive purposes. You can search for these products and more on our home page at legitscript.com. Just enter the product name in “Check Healthcare Product Legitimacy” to see if it’s in our database. If it’s not there, you can send us a quick note to report the product. Please help us in making the Internet a safer place for all consumers.