Drug Enforcement Administration to Put Temporary Ban on Synthetic Marijuana


Preliminary tests by the DEA found that synthetic marijuana has dangerous long-term and short-term side effects.

'Russian Roulette' With Dangerous Chemicals

"You're basically playing Russian roulette with these chemicals," said Gary Boggs, a special agent with the DEA. "Hallucination, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure ... these chemicals appear to bind to certain parts of the brain, so the potential for long-term effects are very deadly."

None of the dangerous chemicals appears on the package label.

Parents are frightened by an easily accessible drug whose name many have never even heard.

Stacy Huberty of Hastings, Minn., learned of synthetic marijuana in a most disturbing way. She received a call from her daughter that her son, Sam, 14, had passed out on the bathroom floor after trying it once. She rushed to the hospital

"It was extremely scary," Huberty recalled. "I reached over to touch his arm, and he was just cold and clammy. I didn't know if he was going to die."

After spending five hours with Sam in the emergency room, the distraught mom spoke to a police officer who was in the hospital's hallway. Hoping to hold someone accountable for giving her teenager this harmful substance to smoke, Huberty asked the officer what he knew about synthetic marijuana. The officer's response "floored" her.

"There is nothing that can be done," she said he told her, "it's not an illegal substance to have" and "no charges could be filed."

Her painfully shy son remembered the moment that nearly cost him his life, and the simple question from his cousin that sparked his decision.

"He asked me if I wanted to get high, and I said yeah," Sam Huberty said. "He was like, 'It's kind of like pot. It's legal.'"

Before today's DEA decision, police departments throughout Minneapolis were powerless to fight the drug, although they said they were disturbed to see so many young people ending up in the hospital, often suffering from seizures.

"It is very frustrating to us, because there is nothing we can do about it," Det. Dan Schoen of the Cottage Grove Police Department told ABC News earlier this month. "They are not going to stop selling it until they absolutely are forced to."

Hausladen, the former user, has a ready warning for parents.

"The people that are buying it have no idea how strong it is," he said. "I don't want anyone to go down the same path I went down."

ABC's Bradley Blackburn contributed to this report.

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