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Synthetic Marijuana Blamed in Central Iowa Teen's Death

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DES MOINES (AP) - State drug control officials are warning residents about a new substance marketed as fake or synthetic marijuana and say it already is responsible for the death of one central Iowa teen.

The Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy said Wednesday that caution should be taken with the substance, which is sold under the labels "Spice" and "K2." Iowa Drug Policy Coordinator Gary Kendall says he will ask the governor and state Legislature to ban the substances in Iowa.

Kendall says the substances could cause anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, hallucinations and seizures. Experts say the substances are legal, but federal drug authorities have labeled them "drugs and chemicals of concern." They are banned in three states.

Full Release from the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy:
DES MOINES The State's Drug Policy Coordinator issued an alert today for Iowans to use caution when dealing with a relatively new substance sometimes referred to as fake or synthetic marijuana, and sold under names such as "Spice" or "K2."

"Increasingly within the last month, our office has received concerns about an olive-colored plant material often referred to and smoked as synthetic marijuana," said Gary Kendell, Iowa's Drug Policy Coordinator and Director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy. "While most of these types of products are currently unregulated, in my opinion the effects they reportedly have on users are cause for concern."

"These products are sometimes sold as herbal incense mixtures, but they contain various synthetic compounds that appear to stimulate the same areas of the brain as marijuana," Kendell said. "Unlike marijuana, according to the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center, the effects of these products include anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, hallucinations and seizures."

"Our concern about this substance and others like it has become an unfortunate reality with the recent tragic death of a central Iowa teen after using K2," said Kendell.

While many of the synthetic marijuana products are currently legal, the DEA has labeled them as "drugs and chemicals of concern." Three states recently banned the chemical compounds found in K2 and Spice, and at least eight other states are considering a ban.

"Safety must come first, and I will ask Governor Culver and the Legislature to make these types of products a schedule one controlled substance under Iowa law, effectively banning the sale or use of them in our state," said Kendell. "I'm also in conversation with members of Iowa's congressional delegation about considering a federal ban."

In the meantime, Kendell urges Iowans to educate themselves about synthetic marijuana by going to the ODCP website at Iowans with concerns about someone smoking "Spice" or other similar products should immediately call the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

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