Synthetic Drugs Still A Problem In DC Despite Legalized Weed
The district of Columbia has seen a major spike in the use of synthetic drugs over the past few weeks, causing major concern in the mayor’s office.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, at just her second press conference since she took office in January, said government agencies have seen “dozens of individuals” being taken to hospitals in the last month after overdosing on the synthetic drugs. Eleven of those came in just a single day last week.
She said the synthetic drugs have been found in liquor stores and gas stations across the city, and her main concern is keeping the drugs, with odd names like K2, Scooby Snax and Bizarro, out of the hands of children.
“Synthetic drugs are illegal, dangerous and present a clear and present danger to the District of Columbia and its residents,” Bowser said.
Bowser will be working with members of the city council to craft legislation aimed toward cracking down on the sale and use of the synthetic drugs.
She plans to enact harsher penalties on retailers who sell the synthetic drugs and wants to make it easier for local police to shut down those stores.
“The [Chief of Police] should have the ability to assess whether a retailer is breaking the law, and issue a temporary shut down of that retailer while we investigate the incident,” Bowser said.
In February, the city legalized the recreational use of marijuana, though it was not able to create a regulation framework thanks to a congressional block on funding to implement the new law.
What the left D.C. with is legalized marijuana, but no method of legal distribution. People in the city can now possess up to two ounces of marijuana, but its sale and purchase are still illegal.
It is legal to grow up to six plants for personal consumption within city limits, it takes months for a plant to reach the point of consumption, and access to medicinal marijuana in the city is severely lacking.
Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, though, both agreed that the lack of access to legal marijuana in the city in no way relates to the rise in use of synthetic alternatives.
“I don’t think that we have any evidence that would lead us to make that leap,” Bowser said.
At least seven of those 11 synthetic drug overdoses from last week came from people staying at D.C.’s largest homeless shelter, The Washington Post reported.
D.C. Fire Department spokesman Timothy Wilson told the Post all the overdose victims appeared to be showing the same symptoms, being unresponsive and incoherent. He said several of them were found just lying in the streets near the homeless shelter.
According to the Post, the homeless people may have consumed part of a powerful new batch of the synthetic drugs brought in to D.C. from New York.
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