State forensics lab identifying new synthetic cannabinoids

State forensics lab identifying new synthetic cannabinoids

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Synthetic drugs were first designed to skirt the drug laws. Mississippi’s laws have since been tightened, but new forms of drugs are still being discovered in busts around the state. Spice is back on the radar in a new form.

“At one point in time, we had thought it was actually decreasing in the amount of spice cases we saw," said Mississippi Forensics Lab, Drug Analysis Section Chief Erik Frazure. "But here within the last few months, we’ve had an uptick of spice cases.”

You may remember seeing reports of large numbers of spice overdoses back in 2015. The state forensics lab says synthetic cannabinoids are now being found in a whole new form.

“It looked like plant material," explained Frazure. "Just any type of herbal plant material and they would spray the compound on this. We’ve started seeing here within the last year a recent influx of white powder form. Basically, you can think of it as this right here is what was placed on the plant material.”

New forms of synthetic cannabinoid found
New forms of synthetic cannabinoid found (WLBT)

Chemically, it’s not always the same.

“Within the last month, we’ve had four new compounds come through the lab," Frazure noted. "Things we’ve never seen before. They’re very similar to ones we have identified but they’re new compounds.”

What they don’t know at that point is how each new compound could impact someone taking it. But they do know this: “It’s a lot easier to OD now," noted Frazure. "Used to be where you had a large amount of plant material, it’s now a very small amount of white powder. And it’s a lot easier to ingest a very small amount of white powder that’s relatively speaking a lot more concentrated than the plant material.”

For law enforcement, it’s increasingly concerning because there are now so many white powdery substances that put officers and agents at greater risk. They don’t know if they’re finding fentanyl, cocaine, or now, a form of spice. Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John Dowdy says the synthetics, including the white powder form of spice, are being found statewide. But there’s no evidence that it’s currently being manufactured in the state.

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