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What is Synthetic Marijuana, Bath Salts? New Drug Crimes Have Cops' Attention

A recent federal raid of a Smoke 911 shop in Sandy Springs highlights the rise in crimes related to synthetic marijuana and bath salts, but what are these drugs?

“We started hearing about bath salts around late 2009, early 2010,” said Detective Joseph Lane, with the Sandy Springs Police Special Investigations Unit. “It really was the new kind of designer drug. Not many people knew what it would do to you.”

According to, bath salts are a synthetic compound of a chemical found in the Khat plant. Lane told Patch it’s sometimes ordered from Asia and then altered for drug use.

“It looks like Epsom Salt or something you put in a bathtub. These guys are secretive in how they manufacture it,” Lane said.

It can be ingested in various ways – snorting, smoking, eating, shooting it up, etc.

[Dr. Deborah Mash, a neuroscientist told ABC News, bath salts may be the next epidemic. See below.]

Have you been around anyone high on bath salts or synthetic marijuana?

Bath salts effects can include hallucinations and extremely violent behavior. Bath salts were suspected to be related to a murder case, a few months ago, when a Miami man was found chewing another man’s face off.

Det. Lane said, synthetic marijuana makers use a synthetic compound, often ordered from Asia, that creates a marijuana-like high. It is sprayed on a weed that looks like the marijuana plant but without the THC.

The street name of synthetic marijuana changes constantly, he said, as state lawmakers try to get a handle on the problem.

When the state makes a particular form of the drug illegal, the makers of the drug will alter it slightly with different chemicals that are not illegal, Lane said. “And then the state will have to make that [new form] illegal,” he added.

Lawmakers are working to come up with a law that will encompass all possible forms of synthetic marijuana, Lane said.

Until recently buyers of synthetic marijuana could walk into a Smoke 911 shop and purchase the drug under its street name, K2 or Spice. That’s not likely today.

“[The seller] would say no. But if you ask for it by a new name – Dr. Bones or Gorilla Dro, they might say yes. It changes monthly.” Lane said.

See Also:

Late Night Arrest, Erratic Behavior Leads to Letter to the Editor

Sandy Springs PD Help Feds Search for Synthetic Marijuana

See an ABC News feature on bath salts

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