Entries in DEA (6)


DEA Announces Emergency Ban on 'Bath Salts'

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration said Wednesday it will use its emergency authority to ban chemicals used in legal synthetic drugs known as "bath salts," calling the chemicals an "imminent hazard" to the public.

"This imminent action by the DEA demonstrates that there is no tolerance for those who manufacture, distribute, or sell these drugs anywhere in the country, and that those who do will be shut down, arrested, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement on the DEA website. "DEA has made it clear we will not hesitate to use our emergency scheduling authority to control these dangerous chemicals that pose a significant and growing threat to our nation."

In June, an ABC News 20/20 investigation found that despite being linked to multiple deaths, "bath salts" have been sold across the country with little to no oversight, sometimes to teens.

The DEA describes the so-called "bath salts," which have nothing in common with products long used in bathing, as a sort of imitation cocaine or LSD -- a substance that, while legal, has not been approved by the FDA for human consumption and has been linked to violent, sometimes deadly outbursts by users. Varieties of "bath salts" are sold under different labels in corner stores across the U.S. as well as online and have prompted thousands of calls to Poison Control nationwide.

"They're selling time bombs," Louisiana Poison Control Center Director Dr. Mark Ryan said in the course of the ABC News investigation. "We've had some people show up who are complaining of chest pains so severe that they think they're having a heart attack. They think they're dying...They have extreme paranoia. They're having hallucinations. They see things, they hear things, monsters, demons, aliens."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), proposed a national ban on the chemicals used in bath salts in February. Thirty-three states already have measures to control the substance.

"I am pleased the DEA has finally heeded our call to ban these drugs by making them illegal controlled substances. While this is a solid first step, we need to ensure that these drugs stay off the market for good," Schumer said. "I will push to permanently ban these drugs until the threat of this scourge is removed from our neighborhoods, our schools, and from store counters across the country."

The DEA emergency ban will take effect in 30 days and will make it illegal to possess or sell mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone -- all key ingredients for "bath salts" -- or any products which contain the chemicals for one year while the DEA works with the Department of Health and Human Services to "further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


DEA Rejects Weed as Medicine; Marijuana Advocates Threaten to Sue

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Although 16 states recognize marijuana as a drug with important medicinal properties, the Drug Enforcement Administration has shot down a petition to reclassify marijuana as such, citing that it has "no accepted medical use." The result is that marijuana will remain within the strictest categorization of restricted substances, alongside heroin and LSD.

"As a doctor and medical researcher, I find the DEA's decision unfortunate," said Dr. Igor Grant, a neuropsychiatrist and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California-San Diego. "It looks like they underplayed what positive information there is in the literature about marijuana. This policy is guided more by certain kinds of beliefs in the dangers of marijuana, at the expense of advance of medical knowledge for patients."

The DEA's refusal, laid out in a June 21 letter from DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart to the organizations who filed the petition back in 2002, marks yet another bump in the road for patients, doctors, and activists fighting for improved access to what they deem a vitally therapeutic medication.

"The statement 'it has no accepted medical use' is simply wrong as a statement of fact," said Rob MacCoun, psychologist and professor of Law and Public Policy at University of California Berkeley Law School. "There is now considerable evidence showing medical benefits, at or exceeding standards of evidence for many other pharmaceuticals. Prescribing physicians in over a dozen states clearly see an accepted medical value for their patients."

Americans for Safe Access, one of the organizations petitioning the DEA, already has plans to appeal the decision, taking the federal government to court, and if necessary, the Supreme Court, in order to argue for the medicinal value of marijuana.

"Frankly, we're ready to go head to head with the Obama administration on this issue," said Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access. "We have science on our side and we're hopeful the court will see it that way."

Calls made to the DEA for comment were not returned.

The original petition sent to the DEA in 2002 called for reclassifying marijuana into schedule III, IV, or V, drugs, all of which would acknowledge its potential for medical use and place its threat as a potentially harmful and/or addictive substance as less severe than class I and II drugs such as heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and morphine.

Such a change means that marijuana would remain a controlled substance, but that its use in medical contexts would not be considered illegal under federal law, as is the case now.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Designer Drugs Masquerade as 'Bath Salts,' Worry Officials

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Across the country, chemicals that can commonly be found in things like pond scum remover and plant food are being smoked and inhaled with very scary results. While certain drugs like marijuana bring a high, these drugs can bring unintended hallucinogenic effects.

Health officials from the Gulf Coast to California have seen cases of people smoking drugs with names like "ivory snow" and "vanilla sky," that mimic symptoms of schizophrenia. Authorities say people on these drugs will see things that are not real, and in extreme cases, commit suicide, like one man from Louisiana who shot himself after smoking one of the bath salts.

The drugs are deceptively packaged because of their ingredients, but have still become highly popular.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal has placed a ban on the product.

"These drugs have crept into our communities and they are hurting our kids. We have to do everything in our power to protect our children and to make sure our streets are safe for our families. The reality is that the chemicals used to make these dangerous substances have no legitimate use other than to provide a high for the user. Make no mistake – these are very dangerous drugs and we must get them off our streets," Jindal said.

In the first week of January when Jindal made the announcement, the state had already seen 165 cases related to bath salt drugs, which represented over 50 percent of all cases in the country. Jindal has since contacted the Drug Enforcement Administration to ask for a federal investigation.

In a majority of states, however, these deceptive drugs are still legal. The DEA says while it can look into the drugs, it would take years to classify them as illegal. The drugs are still easily available online and in stores across the country.

While there is little the federal government can currently do, DEA officials say state bans may be the most effective method of combating this deadly problem.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Applauds DEA Steps to Ban Synthetic Marijuana

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINTON) -- The White House has reacted to an effort by the DEA to temporarily ban synthetic marijuana products such as K2.

In a statement Wednesday, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, hailed DEA emergency actions against the drug, also known as “Spice.”

“I commend the DEA for using their emergency scheduling authority to protect public health by keeping these substances away from young people,” Kerlikowske said.  “Until the risks associated with ingesting these products and chemicals can be studied and understood, there is no place for them on the shelves of any legitimate business.”

The drug, an herbal and chemical product which is marketed as “incense,” is thought to mimic the effects of marijuana.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Georgetown Students Arrested for Manufacturing Illegal Drug in Dorm Room

Photo Courtesty - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Police in Washington, D.C. arrested three men at Georgetown University over the weekend and charged them with illegally manufacturing a controlled substance after authorities say they discovered a drug, later determined to be dimethyltryptamine (DMT), was being manufactured in a dorm room.

The men, two students and a guest, were arraigned Monday.  A police spokeswoman said police were directed to a certain room on the ninth floor of Harbin Hall after a student reported a strange odor.  Seven people, including several students, were treated for possible effects from exposure to chemicals, but no one was hospitalized.

In an e-mail, Greg Olson, Georgetown's vice president of student affairs, told parents that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had confirmed that DMT was being made in the dorm room.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, DMT is a powerful hallucinogenic drug that is typically smoked, sniffed or injected.  It's found naturally in plants and seeds but can also be manufactured synthetically.  It's also found in very small amounts in the brains of most mammals, including humans.

It acts by increasing the brain's level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences moods.  DMT produces what's called the "businessman's trip" -- a high that lasts for about an hour.

"Serotonin is thought to be the target of a lot of hallucinogens, like LSD, MDMA [ecstasy], PCP and others," said Glen Hanson, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Utah and former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

DMT is not very addicting, unlike drugs like methamphetamine.  It's also relatively easy to manufacture, according to the DEA.

In addition to the psychedelic high, the drug can have serious physiological consequences, including high blood pressure, agitation, seizures and dizziness, according to the DEA.  In very high doses, it can bring on a coma and respiratory arrest.

Regarding long-term use, experts also said there wasn't much research about how harmful long-term use can be, but Hanson suspected it could take its toll on the brain after a while.

DEA statistics show that between January and June of 2009, law enforcement officials seized 72 items that were later identified as DMT.  In 2008, they seized 94 such items, up from 59 in 2007.

DMT is an illegal substance and is considered a schedule one drug, meaning that it's not approved for medical use.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


DEA Pushes New Medication Disposal Initiative To Combat Teen Addiction

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The Drug Enforcement Agency is urging Americans to safely dispose of their unused, unwanted and expired medications at approximately 4,000 "take back" drop off points set up nationwide.  This new initiative is an effort to thwart one of America's fastest growing drug problems where kids are seeking to get high not from drugs bought in the street, but rather drugs found in their homes.  Laurie Decrescenzo told ABC News she's had several bottles of prescription drugs in her home for nearly 30 years. "I didn't know what to do with them so I just pushed them to the back of my cabinet," Decrescenzo said.  "This effort symbolizes DEA's commitment to halting the disturbing rise in addiction caused by their misuse and abuse," DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart said. The DEA is taking action on the matter after increasing reports have surfaced involving teenage addiction and physical harm stemming from prescription medications found at home.  The DEA is updating its list of drug drop-off points regularly at its website,, to provide the public with further information on the initiative.  The DEA is updating its list of drug drop-off points regularly at its website, to provide the public with further information on the initiative.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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