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New synthetic drugs pose a challenge for both prosecutors and ERs

Missouri has always been known for its resistance to passing fads. We seem to be making an exception,pink-t.JPG however, for new drug fads.

New and synthetic drugs with names like K2 and Pink are finding a place on the street. And the courts and emergency rooms around the state are still learning how to prosecute these cases.

We are hearing reports of overdoses and arrests for a variety of synthetic chemicals. They include:

K2, a synthetic cannabinoid

This name is attached to a wide array of synthetics, many of which are sold like candy bars in attractive colorful packages, with clever name brands such as Mr. Happy, Scooby Snax, Green Giant, Stona Lisa, Yellow King Kong and WTF. These drugs are coming to us from China.

K2 typically contains a synthetic version of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabinoids like marijuana and hashish. For years, less gaudy versions of K2 were consumed using the general name Spice.

Street drugs like this are sometimes compared to Russian roulette, because you have no idea what you're pumping into yourself. And since labs don't know what's in the drug, it is unusually difficult to test for.

K2 can be very strong. Since people have no idea what is in these products, they are overdosing, causing several hundred deaths in the state, often to homeless persons. The Missouri Poison Center has been tracking K2 cases for seven years. In the month of November, they received 118 calls regarding K2.

Pink, a frightening new opioid

The other drug sensation sweeping the area is called "Pink" or U-47700. Experts describe is as a synthetic opioid that provides a greater boost then heroin -- and is every bit as dangerous. It has been described as so powerful a person could have a heart attack just touching it. It actually poses a health risk for first responders and laboratory technicians, as it can be absorbed through the skin.

Another reason it is dangerous is because it is easy to obtain online. It is easy to find, and it is cheap - about $50 per hit.

These new drugs and new versions of drugs are coming out faster than the law can respond. The federal government has added Pink to the list of illegal substances, but state governments have been slow to follow.

In the meantime, of course, arrests are occurring, despite considerable legal confusion. There is a desire to punish those who sell or provide the new drugs. But it is hard to prove intent when most people have no idea what the drugs are, what they contain, or what they can do.

The best defense in any drug arrest is always to keep your thoughts to yourself until you have a chance to consult with an experienced lawyer. In Columbia and Boone Count, that's The Copeland Law Firm, LLC.

Let us guide you through the confusing minefield of synthetic drug prosecution. We will protect your rights as if they were our own.

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