It used to be that in school, students were warned to stay away from “natural” drugs: cocaine, heroin, marijuana. Students are now being warned to stay away from “synthetic” drugs.
It’s a medical and scientific fact: drugs do cause harm, on both the body and the mind, especially for growing adolescents. Knowing the damage it can cause, doesn’t stop most teenagers from at least trying alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana or even worse products.
Doctors and scientists know the materials that can be found in cocaine (derived from the coca plant), heroin (derived from the poppy seed plant) and marijuana (derived from the cannabis plant). Each of these drugs have, at some point in history, been considered healthy and used as either painkillers or for medical use.
Though the jury is still out over the medical uses of marijuana, heroin and cocaine have both been proven to be addictive and has provided destruction to entire communities, including Webster Groves.
Recently, a new drug phase has begun to appear on the scene. Synthetic drugs, which are the product of taking a hallucinogenic drugs, such as marijuana or LSD that have already been banned by the federal government and simply changing one chemical reaction, to make the compound legal.
An example of these synthetic drugs would be the bath salts (which caused a Miami man to eat another man’s face off), synthetic pot which recently left an Iowa teen brain-damaged or N-Bomb, which is derived from mescaline, which has recently come to St. Louis County. According to the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” n-bomb, an LSD type drug, causes hallucinations, sensitivity to light and sound or highly violent and psychotic episodes.
“Cities have to create ordinances against these drugs,” said Eric Weimer, resource officer. “They made the law a kind of “catch-all” where if anything is being sold under the pretense of a drug, such as synthetic marijuana, it is illegal. In St. Louis County, the issue is that people are getting the drugs online.”
According to a “Monitoring the Future” survey done in 2011, 11.4 percent of seniors had used synthetic drugs in the past six months to a year, making them the second highest abused drugs among teenagers.
In the past few years, the arguments for legalizing marijuana have grown stronger, and some states, like Colorado, have listened to these arguments and legalized the drug. Those who wish to see marijuana legalized, like Andrew Schenkel from Mother Nature Network, have pointed to its medical uses for terminal patients or those with an advanced form of cancer, as well as the economics of the drug, including saving up to $1 billion in law enforcement fees and an estimated $350 million dollar tax revenue.
An up and coming argument for those wanting to legalize marijuana now includes the synthetic products. In seeing the health risks that the synthetic products cause, there are those that would prefer the “real” product, as the health risks are well documented and treatable.
“I don’t necessarily think that legislation is the best route, but I don’t know what is,” said Weimer. “Teenagers are most at risk, with a lot experimentation and curiosity. They might not believe that [trying drugs] will make them an addict, but it does.”
Whether or not legalization would solve the problem of synthetic drugs, is an issue that medical and government professionals will have to solve in the next few years. The problem is that these drugs are being manufactured too quickly and teenagers are discovering the drugs, without knowing the real risks behind them.
The reality of high school is that students use drugs and drink alcohol. Hopefully, students will be able to recognize that there are healthier options out there and that being cool doesn’t mean succumbing to peer pressure. We all understand the risks of doing drugs and alcohol, but with so little information on synthetics, students may think that they are safer, just because they’re “legal.” Still just because something is legal, doesn’t make it safe for human consumption, so do your brain a favor and don’t try them.