Numerous overdoses involving “Smacked,” a synthetic marijuana, has led to New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan declaring a public health emergency.
Currently, 44 reported overdoses have been linked to Smacked, with many of those people needing to go to a hospital by ambulance. The drug is sold in many convenient stores as a potpourri, but is smoked like marijuana.
The state of emergency will allow for police officers to investigate places that sell the marijuana-like substance. Officials may also be able to quarantine the product.
“These products pose a serious threat to public health, especially to young people, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to combat the recent rash of overdoses,” noted Hassan.
Already, police officers have investigated three convenient stores in Manchester that were selling the drug. The business licenses of those places have been revoked, noted officials.
Smacked is sold in packets containing a potpourri-like substance that has been sprayed with something similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient in marijuana.
Though it is similar to marijuana, Smacked can be very dangerous, and can also produce unpredictable effects.
“People are smoking substances without knowing what’s in them,” said Dr. Christopher Rosenbaum, director of toxicology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. “I would argue these products are more dangerous than the [marijuana] they are intended to replace.”
Although New Hampshire has had a ban on synthetic marijuana products and bath salts since 2012, making sure the products are not being sold has been difficult for the state to enforce. This is partially because companies keep changing the ingredients in their products, making it difficult to know whether the products are legal or illegal.
“They keep changing it all the time, playing this game with the federal government to see what’s illegal and what isn’t,” said Dr. Jose Montero, state public health director for New Hampshire. “These are just psychotropic drugs.”