Synthetic drug manufacturers staying ahead of law changes - WSMV Channel 4

Synthetic drug manufacturers staying ahead of law changes

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

You have seen the disturbing headlines from across the country about what is considered the new front line in the war on drugs - those so-called bath salts and other synthetic drugs.

Now, the Channel 4 I-Team has obtained new video straight from that front line that shows what police are up against.

More than two years ago, the Channel 4 I-Team's undercover cameras found the drugs readily available at gas stations and convenience stores in Middle Tennessee.

Lawmakers took action then to ban the drugs, but the I-Team has learned the manufacturers are trying to get around the ban.

And, they're finding ways to beat drug tests.

Both law enforcement and Dr. Donna Seger, with the Tennessee Poison Center at Vanderbilt University, said they have never seen anything as powerful - not PCP and not even with meth.

Officials are most disturbed by the seemingly super-human strength and psychosis bath salts cause in an alarming number of cases.

The I-Team spoke with recovering drug addicts, who are now sober at Nashville's drug court recovery center. They said bath salts are cheap, strong and undetectable on a standard drug test.

Even worse is that the potent drugs were readily available on convenience stores' shelves just a few months ago.

Lawmakers in Tennessee and Kentucky made moves last year to ban the drugs. Both states had to pass stronger laws this year, because they said the drugs keep changing.

But, the battle is far from over. In fact, street chemists can outsmart the law. With just a minor change to the drugs' molecular structure, synthetics can once again become legal.

And, manufacturers can be clever. The I-Team obtained flyers distributed to a Hopkinsville convenience store before there were laws on the books in the state. They read "buy before the ban" and "we will carry 100 percent guaranteed legal product after the national ban."

According to drug experts, more than 100 synthetics are out there now. As lawmakers and police attempt to get a handle on the problem, the Drug Enforcement Agency has used its emergency scheduling authority to crack down on many of the drugs.

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