Regulators in Wackyland: Capturing the Last of the Designer Drugs

Since 2008, synthetic marijuana has been openly sold as “herbal incense” in head shops, gas stations, and online. A short time after the emergence of synthetic marijuana, cathinone derivatives appeared as “bath salts.” Since then, poison control centers and emergency rooms throughout the U.S. have seen numerous incidents of people experiencing severe negative effects from these drugs. Several people have died from cathinone derivatives. Yet, four years later, synthetic marijuana, cathinone derivatives, and other “legal” drugs remain widely available. Lawmakers’ response to these drugs has been inept. This Note examines the actions taken to control “legal highs” and explains why they have all failed, and will continue to fail, unless new methods of control are employed.