As Florida’s attorney general, I work to protect Floridians. One of the most alarming and dangerous trends I’ve seen since taking office is the rise of synthetic drug abuse.

Some of you may generally know synthetic drugs as incense, potpourri, K2, spice and bath salts. These cathinones — bath salts — and cannabinoids — spice — are sold under names such as “Red Eye,” “Purple Flake,” “Scooby Snax,” “1/2 Baked Hulk” and “Express Barely Legal.” Although these drugs are marketed in bright packages and given innocuous names, the fact is they can be deadly. They can cause psychotic episodes, hallucinations, seizures, paranoia, tremors and more.

These drug manufacturers are targeting young people. The Drug Abuse Warning Network issued a first-of-its-kind report last year that studied emergency room visits linked to synthetic drug abuse.

It found that more than 11,000 emergency room visits nationwide involved a synthetic cannabinoid product in 2010. Seventy-five percent of those visits were from people ranging in age from 12 to 29.

One February 2013 CNN article entitled “Teen narrowly escapes death after smoking synthetic marijuana” captures just how dangerous and life-altering these drugs can be.

After smoking potpourri, a 16-year-old girl ended up in the intensive care unit for weeks. An MRI revealed that she had suffered several strokes.

She nearly died and emerged from the hospital blind and with brain damage, requiring physical, occupational and speech therapy.

This girl’s story underscores just how dangerous these drugs are and why we need to work together to stop synthetic drug abuse. There are three things you, as college students, can do to help.

First, if you see these drugs on any store shelf in Florida, call local law enforcement. Second, tell your friends how dangerous these drugs are and discourage them from using them. Finally, if you see someone who appears to be suffering from the effects of synthetic drug abuse or is in any type of medical distress, call 911 for emergency medical assistance.

By following these three steps, you can save lives.

In closing, I promise you I will remain vigilant in my efforts to rid Florida of synthetic drugs. During the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions, I worked with the Florida Legislature to add dangerous synthetic compounds to the Schedule I of controlled substances.

This legislative session, I am working with bill sponsors, Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Clay Ingram, and the Florida Legislature to add an additional 27 synthetic substances to the Schedule I of controlled substances, making it a third-degree felony for an individual to “sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver” these dangerous drugs.

We will continue to do whatever it takes to protect Floridians from synthetic drugs, and I ask that you join me in these efforts to make Florida a safer place.

Pam Bondi is the attorney general for the state of Florida. You can respond to her via [email protected].

(5) comments


I'm sure the 16-year-old girl would have had fewer problems (if any) smoking the real cannabis instead of a synthetic, bastardized version. Why did she have to smoke the deadly concoction instead of the harmless herb? Oh that's right, the herb is illegal. That really makes no sense. After reading your FL v. Jardines brief, I would suggest a title for a sequel to Reefer Madness...... Drug Dog Madness (or simply Drug Enforcement Madness.)

Uncle B

@ Romulan

"...the herb is illegal. That really makes no sense."

You left wing hippy freak! Just kidding, I agree with you completely.


Ms. Biondi urges us, "if you see these drugs on any store shelf in Florida, call local law enforcement." Seriously?

"Hello, Gainesville Police Department..."

"Yes, I saw some products that are probably legal even though the state attorney general doesn't like them, and they're being openly sold in a store I just went to. So, that's pretty suspicious and I want you to send some officers to investigate right away."


These synthetic drugs would have never existed in the first place if the safe, natural, and demonized alternative were legal.

Not that any Floridian would expect their elected/appointed officials to realize the cause and effect here, since this state is still stuck in the 80s


Since it is not terribly difficult to make, one has to wonder if 'getting it off the shelves' will result in even more toxic results than those produced under brand names and sold commercially.

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