Southern California Bakery Laces Cakes with Synthetic Pot, Several Fall Ill
As many as 40 people may have fallen ill after ingesting a traditional Hispanic holiday bread called the 3 Kings Cake, which was laced with synthetic pot.
Cholula Bakery sold numerous Rosca de Reyes, or Three Kings Cakes, to the public through its retail outlets. Preliminary drug testing found traces of synthetic pot in the bread, which can be a dangerous hallucinogen. Consumers complained of heart palpitations and hallucinations. The Santa Ana Police department has stated that they will launch a criminal investigation next week.
Synthetic pot belongs to a classification of drugs called canniboids, which have similar psychological effects as the active drugs in cannabis. Synthetic marijuana is often sprayed onto FDA-approved plant material, creating something a user could smoke or burn like incense, or consumed in another fashion. A recent study from the DEA declared that synthetic marijuana, also referred to as “fake pot,” “herbal incense,” or “potpourri,” constituted an imminent public safety hazard. Synthetic marijuana previously had no specific restrictions, and was often sold in corner stores and online. The drug can be purchased with no age restrictions, making it increasingly popular with minors and young adults.
Many states, along with the DEA, have begun cracking down on designer drugs like synthetic marijuana, molly, and other chemicals that do not have any specific state regulations, thereby making them legal. Often, manufacturers will slightly alter the chemical formula to stay ahead of law enforcement. However, the DEA passed legislation in 2013 that made three specific popular types of synthetic marijuana illegal, in order to study the drugs’ effects and help stop the sale of drugs to minors.
“The levels in the cake are not small,” said Neil Spingarn, a pharmacologist who heads up S&N Laboratories, regarding a sample of the synthetic pot-laced bread that his lab tested. “What is most striking is that this was not inadvertent.”
“The people who are making this stuff, they’re chemists and they’re very familiar with the Controlled Substances Act. All they do is check the federal register to see what’s illegal,” said Vijay Rathi, a special agent with the DEA. “It’s completely frustrating.”
According to the DEA, “underground” chemists in China and India are creating new strains of synthetic pot and other synthetic drugs for sale faster than the US can outlaw them, and the drugs are extremely dangerous. In 2010, Spice sent 11,000 people to the emergency room; the number soared to 28,500 in 2011. Most of the victims were teenagers.
“There have been increasing reports in the medical literature about the side effects, the adverse reactions to these chemicals, both in the brain as well as in the lungs; a lot of these chemicals or their side products can actually damage lung tissue,” said David Kroll, who reports on drugs and science for Forbes magazine. He says it is encouraging to see more attention in the medical community to the dangers of synthetic pot.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Defend Against Drug Charges Involving Synthetic Pot
Traces of synthetic drugs, like synthetic pot, in your system do not inherently mean you used drugs on purpose. Like the victims in Santa Ana County, you may have ingested synthetic pot by accident, with no intention of affecting your employment or family life.
If you or a loved one have been found with synthetic pot or other synthetic drugs, which are deemed illegal in South Carolina, you could face criminal charges ranging from misdemeanor to felony, depending on how much of the drug was on your person, and what your intent was with the drug.