DEA already admits defeat on synthetic marijuana ban?
For those following our most persistent story of the last year or so, you’ve already heard that the US Drug Enforcement Administration declared as controlled substances five synthetic cannabimimetics present in “herbal incense” products such as K2 Spice, Mr. Nice Guy, and Blaze. These compounds include JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol.
With respect to our chemistry audience here, I discussed on New Year’s Eve how the DEA has authority to also regulate “analogues” [sic] of compounds that have been assigned to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This amendment to the act gives the DEA latitude to prosecute the sale, use, and possession of chemical analogs or compounds pharmacologically-similar to those explicitly listed as controlled substances. What authority decides what’s an analog or not is still a mystery to me and was the subject of that post.
In anticipation of yesterday’s final rule, synthetic marijuana marketers had already been reformulating their products with compounds not named in this rule but existing among the portfolio of retired Clemson University organic chemist, John W. Huffman – namesake of the JWH compounds. (The compound most commonly cited by readers and commenters at my blogs is JWH-250.). As I understood the DEA’s authority, sale of these products containing apparently still-legal compounds could still potentially be prosecuted.
Well, in a story from Minnesota Public Radio, a DEA spokesperson is already apparently admitting defeat in response to retailers who are stocking products free of the five named compounds:
[Last Place On Earth shop owner Jim] Carlson said that with about 210 similar chemicals available, the manufacturers will try to keep one step ahead of the government
“Unfortunately he is correct,” said Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman in Washington, who confirmed Tuesday that many suppliers are offering retailers products with new chemicals. “There are many of these substances and we chose five common ones because we don’t have the resources to study all of them.”
As we’ve also discussed here, several states including North Carolina have put forth legislation that exhaustively bans potentially hundreds of analogs of synthetic cannabimimetics. While the DEA limited their rule to five, it seems odd to me that they are saying, “Oh well,” when they seem to have the authority to apply the rule to related compounds.
After all of the quibbling and delay since the DEA first announced its intention to enact this rule last November, is anyone else confused by this throwing up of hands?