In recent weeks, more than 100 people have been
treated in emergency rooms in the state after using synthetic
marijuana, including many suffering life-threatening maladies, they
"This emergency rule immediately empowers law enforcement officials
to remove these dangerous substances from commerce," said Kathy
Kliebert, the chief of the state's Department of Health and
The drugs, also known as synthetic cannabinoids, first began
appearing in the United States in 2009, the American Association of
Poison Control Centers said.
The National Institutes of Health said that since many chemicals
used in synthetic marijuana were then banned by the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration, manufacturers have substituted other
chemicals in their mixtures, causing some users to experience toxic
"These are untested chemical concoctions that attempt to mimic
marijuana without any consideration for the effects these chemicals
may have on the human body," law enforcement officials in Louisiana
and the coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish said in a statement.
Sold under names street names such as "Spice," "MOJO" and "White
Widow", synthetic marijuana has gained a foothold among users who
believe it is harder to detect in drug tests.
Synthetic marijuana products are marketed and sold as "safe"
alternatives to marijuana, but they can cause extreme anxiety as
well as reduce blood supply to the heart, according to the National
Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
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Synthetic marijuana has been easy to buy in head shops, gas
stations and over the Internet, and it is the second most abused
illegal substance by high school seniors behind marijuana, according
Synthetic marijuana was thought to be the culprit last year in
Colorado that caused the deaths of three people and made another 75
ill, officials in that state said.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Cynthia Johnston and
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