synthetic marijuana

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The homeless are proving to be especially susceptible to the latest version of synthetic marijuana, a man-made hallucinogen that experts say is far more dangerous and unpredictable than the real thing.

Nearly 300 homeless people became ill last month in St. Louis. Other outbreaks have occurred in New York City, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.

Experts say synthetic marijuana is popular among the homeless for several reasons: It's cheap. It's difficult to detect in a drug test. And it's a fast escape from reality.

Flickr / Raquel Baranow

  A Springfield man will serve five years in prison with no chance of parole for participating in a conspiracy to distribute more than $1.6 million in synthetic marijuana, also called K2.

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The Missouri House has approved new legislation taking aim at synthetic drugs.

missouri house floor
File Photo / KBIA News


  Missouri House members have given first-round approval to legislation taking aim at synthetic drugs.

The bill would add several specific substances to what is considered synthetic marijuana.

It was endorsed by a voice vote Tuesday and needs a second vote before moving to the Senate.

In recent years, Missouri has tried to keep pace with evolving synthetic drugs and twice has approved legislation targeting them. Sponsoring House member Shawn Rhoads says the current bill is needed to stay ahead in the effort.

Federal prosecutors are cracking down on businesses in mid Missouri that allegedly sold synthetic marijuana.

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Federal prosecutors have announced a broader crackdown on central Missouri businesses that allegedly sold synthetic marijuana.

The U.S. attorney's office said Friday that four businesses and nine people were indicted earlier this month on charges of conspiring to distribute products that often are labeled as "incense" but actually are intended to be used as a marijuana equivalent.

The indictments were not announced until Friday because of the previous partial federal government shutdown.