WHAT: Cheap synthetic marijuana and cocaine, easily available from head shops or the Internet, are making more users seriously ill with seizures and hallucinations. These synthetics are suspected of causing at least nine U.S. deaths in the past 12 months.
HOW WIDESPREAD: The American Association of Poison Control Centers found that at least 2,700 people fell ill since January, compared with fewer than 3,200 in all of 2010. Medical emergencies related to synthetic drugs are on pace to go up nearly five-fold this year.
WHAT’S BEING DONE: The DEA has outlawed five chemicals found in synthetic pot, putting them on the list with heroin and cocaine. The Senate’s Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a Washington hearing this week to plan curbs on the growth of synthetics.