The White House

Office of the National Drug Control Policy

Readout of White House Drug Policy Director Kerlikowske’s Meeting with Public Health and Safety Officials on the Emerging Threat of Synthetic Drugs

Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at, co-hosted a working group session with officials from the public and private sector to share information regarding the emerging threat of synthetic drugs and coordinate the Federal, state, and local response. Participants included high level officials from the Department of Health and Human Services; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Department of State; the Department of Defense; the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Following the session, The Partnership at introduced a kit for parents and adult influencers housing the tools they need to talk with their teens about this emerging threat and recognize the warning signs of use. The information kit includes a slidecast about synthetic drugs, a corresponding podcast and video, and a printable guide so parents can present details on what to look for, what the street names are and what the effects of these substances are to others in their community.  It is available at The Partnership at website and is part of a "Parents360" community education program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.
“Synthetic drugs like Spice, K2, and ‘bath salts’ are a serious threat to the health and safety of young people throughout America,” said Kerlikowske. “We will continue to coordinate a comprehensive government-wide response, but we cannot do this alone. Parents and adult influencers must understand the serious threat these drugs pose and act today to talk to teens about the serious health and safety consequences of drug use – in whichever form it may come.”
"The drug scene is constantly changing and we’ve seen this firsthand in calls to our Parents Toll-Free Helpline and reflected in the facts, numbers and stories presented this morning,” said Pasierb. “This is a serious ‘wake-up call’ for everyone about the extent of synthetic drug use among kids, and that’s why it’s so important for parents to educate themselves about changing drug trends so they’ll know what to look for. The Partnership at's new information kit is just one critical way we're increasing awareness among parents about the dangers of these new substances, as well as giving them the accessible, understandable tools they need to talk with their kids about the risks of using synthetic drugs."
Often marketed as legal substances, synthetic drugs are sometimes labeled as “herbal incense” or “bath salts” and sold in small pouches or packets over the Internet, in tobacco and smoke shops, drug paraphernalia shops, gas stations, and convenience stores.  In December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released new information indicating that one in nine high school seniors had used “Spice” or “K2” over the past year, making synthetic marijuana the second most frequently used illicit drug, after marijuana, among high school seniors.  Poison Control Centers operating across the nation have also reported sharp increases in the number of calls nationwide related to synthetic drugs. Last year, there were 6,959 calls related to synthetic marijuana and 6,138 calls related to “bath salts.” This compares to 2,906 and 304 calls in 2010 respectively.

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