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The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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DHMH Press Releases : Public Comment on Synthetic Cannabinoids



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BALTIMORE, MD (December 7, 2011) - The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is seeking public comment on Synthetic Cannabinoids. These products are known by a variety of names, including “Spice,” “K2,” “Yucatan Fire,” “Skunk,” “Black Mamba,” “Black Widow,” “Dragon Eye Red,” “Dragon Eye Blue,” and “Moon Rocks,” are marijuana-like synthetic compounds linked to adverse reactions and the potential for abuse.

The use of Synthetic Cannabinoids came to light after a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy who had smoked Synthetic Cannabinoids experienced seizures and 911 needed to be called in December 2010. In the fall of 2011, a student at a Maryland high school experienced a severe reaction after using “Mr Nice Guy.” On March 1, 2011 the DEA placed 5 Synthetic Cannabinoids on Schedule I (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol). In August 2011, Ocean City banned the sale, possession and manufacturing Synthetic Cannabinoids. As of October 24, 2011, at least 40 states have banned one or more Synthetic Cannabinoids.

In order to more fully assess the extent of Synthetic Cannabinoid abuse and associated health consequences in Maryland, DHMH is asking the public for input on the following technical questions:  

(1)   The actual or relative potential for abuse of Synthetic Cannabinoids; 

(2)   if known, scientific evidence of the pharmacological effect of the Synthetic Cannabinoids; 

(3)   the state of current scientific knowledge regarding the Synthetic Cannabinoids; 

(4)   the history and current pattern of abuse of Synthetic Cannabinoids; 

(5)   the scope, duration, and significance of abuse of the Synthetic Cannabinoids; 

(6)   any risk that Synthetic Cannabinoids pose to the public health; 

(7)   the ability of Synthetic Cannabinoids to cause psychological or physiological dependence; and 

(8)  whether Synthetic Cannabinoids are an immediate precursor of a controlled dangerous substance. 

In addition, DHMH is seeking comment on this policy question: 

(9)  Is the current legal framework, requiring listing of specific chemicals, appropriate for Synthetic Cannabinoids, which may contain multiple variants?  If not, what type of legal authority could help the Department address this and similar challenges?

These comments will assist the Department with determining next steps.  Potential steps include seeking additional legislative authority, monitoring the prevalence and impact of Synthetic Cannabinoids, or determining that specific active compounds in Synthetic Cannabinoids should be added to Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances.  Such a determination would render the possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of these compounds unlawful.   

Comments should be submitted by mail by January 6, 2012 to Michele Phinney, Director, DHMH Office of Regulation and Policy Coordination, 201 W. Preston Street, Room 512, Baltimore, Md. 21201; or by email to; or by fax to 410-767-6483.  

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