About a week before the Super Bowl, USA Today published an article about synthetic marijuana use among NFL players. The point of the article was less that the drug is illegal in most states and under federal law than it was to take the NFL to task for not adding synthetic cannabinoids to the list of banned substances.
The NFL says that the drug is covered by existing policy, but, according to the newspaper, players are only tested for the drug after they have been enrolled in the league's drug program. Players in the program, though, already have a violation on their record. What this all boils down to is that the routine drug screening protocols for players does not include screening for synthetic marijuana, even though a number of players have already been busted for using -- two of them in 2016.
Interestingly, the league will not screen for the drugs, but it will suspend a player who has been charged with a related crime, like possession and trafficking.
Synthetic marijuana is marketed under a few different names: Spice, K2, Funky Monkey, to name just a few. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration warns that the term "synthetic" may lead users and potential users to believe that the drug is somehow safer than "real" marijuana. It is not.
Synthetic marijuana does not contain THC, pot's chief psychoactive ingredient; instead, it contains manufactured chemicals that mimic the high. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that the exact chemical makeup of synthetic marijuana varies not just from manufacturer to manufacturer but from batch to batch.
The results have proven fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 15 deaths related to synthetic cannabinoid use in a five-month period last year.
Illinois is doing its part to fight the proliferation of these drugs. We'll explain more in our next post.
Source: "New Illinois law aims to protect people from harms of synthetic drugs," Shara Taylor, Jan. 24, 2016