The White House

Office of the National Drug Control Policy

White House Drug Policy Director Convenes Federal Agencies to Discuss Threat of Synthetic Drugs, a.k.a “Spice” and “Bath Salts”

Commends DEA for taking Emergency Scheduling Action to Ban Three Chemicals

Washington, D.C. – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, convened high-level representatives from the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Transportation, and Defense, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DEA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and several non-governmental organizations to discuss the threat of synthetic stimulants on public health and safety. During the meeting, Director Kerlikowske updated interagency partners on Administration efforts to reduce synthetic drug use and production, shared current data and regulatory trends, and discussed ways to further disrupt the production, importation, sale, and use of synthetic drugs.

Earlier this morning, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved to use its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily control three synthetic stimulants (Mephedrone, 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone). DEA’s action will make possessing and selling these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the U.S. for at least one year while the DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled. Doctors and clinicians at U.S. poison centers have indicated that ingesting “bath salts,” containing synthetic stimulants, can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions. Already, several states have introduced legislation to ban these products.

“I commend the DEA for taking swift and decisive action to help protect public health and safety,” said Kerlikowske. “These products are harmful and appear to have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults. The good news is that we know families are not powerless against this threat. As we work with public health officials to address this emerging challenge, I ask parents and other adult influencers act immediately to discuss with young people the severe harm that can be caused by the use of both legal and illegal drugs and to prevent drug use before it starts.”

Recent information from poison control centers indicates that abuse of these unlicensed and unregulated drugs is growing across the country. As of July, 31st, 2011, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 4,137 reports of exposure to “bath salts” compared to 302 for all of 2010. As of July 31, 2011, there were 3,787 calls regarding exposure for synthetic marijuana, compared to 2,915 calls for all of 2011.

Director Kerlikowske cited two steps parents can take today to protect young people:

  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.

For more information on National efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences visit: www.WhiteHouseDrugPolicy.gov