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Use of illegal, synthetic drugs on the rise in Twin Cities

Use of illegal, synthetic drugs on the rise in Twin Cities

Synthetic drug use is on the rise in the Twin Cities. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, synthetic drugs are designed to mimic the psychoactive effects of traditional, illegal drugs like marijuana and various amphetamines. Even though synthetic drugs are sold online, many synthetic drugs are illegal like N-benzylpiperazine (BZP). Because of the rising popularity of synthetic drugs, seizures of BZP and related drug crimes are on the rise.

Minnesotans obtain synthetic drugs online and through headshops that label the synthetic drugs as incense, bath salts or research chemicals. Usually synthetic marijuana is sold as incense and mephedrone is referred to as bath salts. The exact numbers of synthetic drug use is hard to establish but synthetic drug use in the Twin Cities metropolitan area is no longer comprised of isolated incidents and is on the rise according to a drug abuse strategy officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The phenomenon of synthetic drug use is partly centered on younger people who are drawn to the drugs because of their effects and because the drugs can be purchased online. Many are under the impression that because the drugs are available for purchase online they are therefore safe. According to the drug abuse strategy officer with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Various statistics from the Department of Human Services report demonstrate an uptick in synthetic drug use over the last year. The synthetic drug BZP jumped into the top 10 list of most often seized drug by law enforcement in the Twin Cities area. Two high-schoolers were taken to the emergency room by ambulance after they ingested cookies made with synthetic THC.

The effects of synthetic drug use have also been felt this year. Eleven people who used 2C-E in March 2011 were hospitalized and one person died from the use of the drug. The number of calls concerning bath salt drug poisoning has gone up in the first three months of this year as well.

Source: Alexandria Echo Press, “Use of synthetic drugs on the rise in Minnesota,” Aug. 6, 2011

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