The White House

Office of the National Drug Control Policy

Readout of White House Drug Policy Summit on “Bath Salts” and Synthetic Marijuana

Washington, D.C. – Today, officials from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), held a summit to discuss emerging and dangerous threat of synthetic drugs including intoxicating “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana. Officials from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also participated.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of calls received related to “bath salts” in the first two and a half weeks of 2011 (117) is already 50% of the calls received in 2010 (234) suggesting use is growing across the country and highlights the need for prompt action on this issue. Doctors and clinicians at U.S. poison centers say ingesting these “bath salts,” which contain synthetic stimulants, can cause increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.

In 2010, poison centers reported 2,867 calls about synthetic marijuana products, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS). As of Jan. 18, poison centers reported 217 calls for 2011. While many youth consider synthetic marijuana harmless, its use is linked to a fast, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and nausea.

During the meeting, officials discussed the current status of the DEA ban on key chemical ingredients used to make synthetic marijuana and the ban’s implications for the nearly 200 types of synthetic marijuana on the market—including marijuana soft drinks. The emergence of “bath salts” was discussed in detail, as were research efforts by the U.S. government to learn more about the harmful impacts of these substances.

“At a time when youth drug use in America is on the rise, it is critical that parents act today to talk to young people about the consequences of drug use, including synthetic versions of drugs we already know to be harmful. We commend Federal, state and local authorities that are taking action to treat youth drug use as a public health threat by promoting legislation that keeps synthetic drugs and other harmful substances away from young people.”

Director Kerlikowske cited three steps parents can take today to prevent drug use:

  1. Talk to your kids about drugs. Research shows parents are the best messengers to deliver critical information on drug use. Make sure they know of the harms that can result from drug use and that you don't approve of them. For tips and parenting advice visit www.TheAntiDrug.com.
  2. Learn to spot risk factors that can lead to drug use. Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk factor that can lead young people to drug use and delinquent behavior. Other risk factors include poor classroom behavior or social skills and academic failure. Parents can protect their kids from these influences by building strong bonds with their children, staying involved in their lives, and setting clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline.
  3. Go through your medicine cabinet. More than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family – often from the home medicine cabinet. Immediately remove unused or unneeded prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet. Click here to learn how to properly dispose of prescription drugs.

ONDCP is coordinating an unprecedented government-wide public health approach to reduce drug use and its consequences. This effort includes requesting an increase in funding for drug prevention by $203 million and treatment programs by $137 million dollars for Fiscal Year 2011, to train and engage primary health care to intervene in emerging cases of drug abuse, expand and improve specialty care for addiction—including veterans care and family-based treatment, and to better manage drug-related offenders in community corrections.