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Previously undetectable synthetic stimulants can now be identified; problem abuse skyrockets from drugs called “bath salts” or “plant fertilizers”.
Flagstaff, AZ, May 19, 2011
A new wave of designer drugs, technically legal because they are labeled “not for human consumption,” are no less dangerous than their predecessors, ecstasy, methamphetamine and cocaine. And until now, they weren’t detectable in routine drug screenings.
Through sophisticated technology, Norchem has developed a lab-based test that definitively confirms the presence in urine of many of these designer drugs. The test was developed primarily for the criminal justice system including drug courts, probation, parole and treatment centers. Routine drug screenings and “quick screen cups” do not detect the presence of these designer drugs. This new test follows the successful launch of Norchem’s “fake marijuana” (street names Spice or K2) lab-based test introduced late last year.
The new synthetic stimulants, often called “bath salts” or “plant fertilizers,” were developed to subvert law enforcement and drug testing agencies and are advertised as “legal” highs. They mimic the stimulant effects of amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine. These designer stimulants are typically made from chemical compounds by “bathtub” chemists, often in China, and can be very dangerous. Symptoms such as elevated heart rate, muscle damage, breathing problems, intense anxiety, agitation and seizures have been observed. Several cases of self-mutilation, paranoid hallucinations, and even suicide have been attributed to the drugs.
The most common synthetics are cathinone, methcathinone, mephedrone and MDPV (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone). Cathinone is extracted from a shrub plant, khat, and is chemically similar to ephedrine and the amphetamines.
These products also go by the street names of: bath salts, plant fertilizer, Ivory Soap, Ivory Wave, Cloud 9, Vanilla Sky, Hurricane Charlie, Ocean Snow and Khat, among many others. They are sold in smoke shops, head shops, and via the Internet. Because they are labeled “not for human consumption” the products are technically legal. With widespread availability, these “bath salts” can be purchased by anyone in the general public including employees, minors, students and individuals that are court ordered to not use mind or behavior altering substances.
These new designer compounds metabolize in the body, which can then be extracted from urine and tested using LCMSMS (liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry), the most sophisticated technology available today.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the abuse of these drugs in reports from poison control centers and hospital emergency rooms,” commented Bill Gibbs, Norchem CEO. “The cyber- marketplace enables almost anyone with Internet access the ability to purchase these stimulants. In today’s environment, standard screening for street drugs will not detect them. Because it’s such a quickly escalating problem, we encourage law enforcement, drug courts, probation and social services agencies to request testing. They may be shocked to see how use of these drugs has skyrocketed in the past six months.”
Synthetic stimulants are legal in most states and not federally controlled in the U.S. but have been labeled a “drug and chemical of concern” by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). Despite being banned by several states and a few countries, “bath salts” are readily available over the Internet and in retail businesses in states where they remain legal. The stimulants come in powder form, similar to salt, that people smoke, swallow, inject or drink mixed in liquids.
Norchem, an operating unit of Technical Resource Management Inc., is a certified forensic drug-testing laboratory accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP-FDT). Since 1994, Norchem has provided services to over 2,300 clients as a leader in forensic laboratory drug testing. Norchem primarily provides services to judicial and social welfare agencies that include probation and parole agencies, drug courts, child protective service agencies, community corrections, correctional management firms and treatment facilities. Our work is legally defensible, client centric at a competitive price point. www.norchemlab.com.