Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ > Synthetic Drugs FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions



What are synthetic drugs?
Modern use of the term “synthetic drugs” can also be referred to as designer drugs.  They majority of synthetic drugs that are commonly abused are typically divided into three classes: 
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids – “Herbal Incense”
  • Synthetic Cathinones – “Bath Salts”
  • Synthetic Hallucinogens – “Smiles”
These synthetic drugs are also known by a variety of names including “spice,” “post,” “K2,” “herbal incense,” “bong cleaner,” “winder cleaner,” “smiles,” or “plant food.”

Are synthetic drugs illegal in Ohio?
Yes.  House Bill 64 banned a multitude of synthetic drugs.  However, chemists are skirting the law by modifying the components.  By changing the chemicals, criminals create new drugs that often are just as dangerous as the original compounds, if not worse.
Right now Attorney General Mike DeWine is urging the Ohio Senate Health Human Services and Aging Committee to add an amendment to House Bill 334 that will ban hundreds, if not thousands, of additional synthetic drugs.

Is this just an Ohio problem?
No, this is an issue of concern all over the United States.

When did these drugs first start to appear in the United States?
Synthetic cathinones first appeared in Louisiana in mid-2010.  Synthetic cannabinoids were first detected in the United States in November 2008 in products seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Who normally abuses synthetic drugs?
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 60% of synthetic drug abuse cases reported to poison control centers nationwide involved users age 25 or younger.  The drugs are gaining popularity in Ohio and across the country, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.  In 2010 they received 2,906 calls regarding synthetic drugs.  In 2011 that number rose to 6,959.  As of September 10, the Association received 4,161 synthetic drug calls in 2012.

How dangerous are synthetic drugs?
Synthetic drugs, such as bath salts, are extremely dangerous and have often been known to induce violence in the abuser or cause extreme paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations.  In addition, synthetic drugs often have very poor quality control, so the amount of drug and the type of drug can vary from package to package with no warning.

How are synthetic drugs normally sold?
Typically, but not always, synthetic drugs are sold in small packages of 1-5 grams that are branded.  They are often labeled “not for human consumption” in an attempt to evade the law.

Have I been putting drugs in my bath?
No.  Synthetic “bath salts” are not intended for the bath.  Many synthetic drugs are sold in head shops and packaged under various names.

What is Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine doing to fight the synthetic drug problem?
In addition to testifying in favor of Substitute House Bill 334, Attorney General DeWine is proactively warning retailers about the current laws banning synthetic drugs.  He is providing training to law enforcement officers in an effort to teach them the dangers of synthetic drugs and how to identify them.  The Attorney General’s special prosecutions unit has ten attorneys who can assist in prosecuting synthetic drugs cases, and those with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation assist local law enforcement with investigations and forensic analysis of synthetic drugs. 

Who should I call if I have information on the sale, manufacture, or abuse of synthetic drugs?
Call the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446). 

What do I do if I think a loved one is having a bad reaction to synthetic drugs?
Immediately call 911.  Those abusing synthetic drugs are a danger to themselves and those around them.