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Syn­thet­ic Drugs

The Office of the Attorney General aggressively investigates and prosecutes the businesses and individuals who sell illegal synthetic drugs to Texans.

These dangerous, addictive and sometimes deadly drugs — including Synthetic Cannabinoids, bath salts, Fentanyl, Carfentanyl, Pink and Flakka — can destroy families and ruin young lives.


60 Percent of people admitted to the hospital for use of synthetic cannabinoids who are between 12 and 20 years old.


Texas' rank among all U.S. states in calls to poison control centers about synthetic cannabinoids (2016)


Number of overdoses of synthetic cannabinoids on one afternoon in Houston's Hermann Park.

Questions & Answers About Synthetic Drugs

What are synthetic drugs?

Also known as "designer drugs," synthetic drugs are chemicals designed to imitate the effects of other narcotics and hallucinogens — e.g., marijuana, cocaine, LSD, etc.

What are synthetic cannabinoids — and where are they sold?

The most popular form of synthetic drug, synthetic cannabinoids — also known as K2, Kush, Fake Weed and Spice — are mixes of plant material sprayed with unique chemicals. Often, these chemicals are sprayed on the "fake marijuana" at dangerously high levels.

Synthetic cannabinoids are increasingly common and can be purchased in convenience stores, smoke shops, novelty stores, on the Internet and on the street.

What do synthetic cannabinoids look like? How are they packaged?

Most synthetic cannabinoids — which can be found in convenience stores, smoke shops and online — are packaged to appeal to adolescents. This includes bright, colorful packets and brand names that imply they're "potpourri" or "incense."

Some examples of synthetic cannabinoid packages:

Are synthetic cannabinoids dangerous?

Yes. Synthetic cannabinoids can be very dangerous — not to mention they're illegal in Texas.

These man-made chemicals are often produced in underground labs (often in China) and then shipped to the U.S. in powder or crystal form. They're then mixed with acetone — a colorless, flammable liquid compound — and sprayed onto plant matter.

There's no way to know which chemicals are sprayed onto the plants, so the risk of having a painful reaction to the chemicals is high. And with no regulation, medical professionals have a difficult time knowing how to treat people who have overdosed on synthetic cannabinoids.

The most common medical side effects of using synthetic cannabinoids include:

  • Paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations and psychosis

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Dilated pupils

  • Tremors and seizures

Death remains a real risk for users of synthetic drugs, including synthetic cannabinoids.

What is the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) doing to combat synthetic cannabinoids?

Attorney General Paxton has directed his office to make the fight against synthetic drugs a special initiative. For example:

  • In 2016, the Consumer Protection Division sent 200 warning letters to Houston-area smoke shops — notifying them that the OAG will aggressively pursue any person/business that sells synthetic cannabinoids.

  • To date, the Consumer Protection Division has filed 14 lawsuits to block the sale of synthetic cannabinoids in Texas.

  • Permanent injunctions have been granted against several sellers, including:

    • Katz Boutique was ordered to pay $1.17m in penalties and fees for selling synthetic cannabinoids at their nine smoke shop locations.

    • A jury ordered Jam's Smoke Shop to pay more than $900,000 in penalties in fees for selling "fake marijuana."

    • In August 2016, the owners of Spice Boutique were arrested and more than $2M in cash and gold was seized by authorities.

If you believe you know someone who is manufacturing or selling synthetic drugs — including synthetic cannabinoids — contact the Office of the Attorney General or your local law enforcement agency.

How You Can Help

If someone has used synthetic drugs...

Call your local poison center at (800) 222-1222. They'll help you decide whether you can treat the person at home or take them to the emergency room.

Dial 9-1-1 immediately if the person stops breathing, collapses and/or has a seizure.

To prevent the use of synthetic drugs...

  1. Learn more about synthetic drugs and on other helpful online resources such as the American Association of Poison Control Centers and federal Drug Enforcement Administration.   

  2. Talk with your children about the adverse effects of synthetic drugs.

  3. Talk to your children's school(s) about educating the kids about the danger of synthetic drugs — especially cannabinoids.

Call the Consumer Protection Hotline if you suspect synthetic drug activity by a store or other business: (800) 621-0508.

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