US & Canada

US to ban chemicals used in synthetic marijuana

A package of a herbal blend called K2
Image caption Makers of the blends spray chemicals on to a mixture of dried herbs

The US government has begun emergency action to ban five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana.

The products, found on the internet and in some marijuana paraphernalia stores, have recently attracted the attention of both teens and young adults.

"Smokable herbal blends, marketed as being legal and providing a marijuana-like high, have become increasingly popular," officials said.

The chemicals could now be put in the same category as heroin and cocaine.

After receiving a growing number of negative reports from police and hospitals, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Wednesday launched a 30-day process to ban the chemicals used to make the synthetic drug.

Makers of the "fake pot" market the blends, with names like Spice, K2 and Blaze, as incense in an attempt to mask their intended purpose, said DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno.

Reports from hospitals and poison centres suggest the chemicals may be responsible for seizures, hallucinations and dependency.

Meanwhile, indications from the makers of the blends suggest the producers may change their products to use chemicals not outlawed by the ban.

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