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Synthetic Drugs Present Problems for Oklahomans

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Jacqueline Sit, News9.com

Synthetic drugs being sold as herbal products are a growing problem in Oklahoma. Though technically not illegal when sold as herbs, these products are illegal when presented to customers as drugs.

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agents executed a search warrant at a Yukon convenience store Thursday after an undercover agent was presented incense to be used as a drug.

Mark Woodward, spokesman for the OBN, said this is but one example of a growing problem across the state.

"The clerk told him, ‘Oh, yeah. You can use it, and mentioned getting high and things like that,'" Woodward said.

Users of these synthetic drugs say the effects are like marijuana, but stronger. In some cases, a lot stronger.

"Some of them talk about how they felt like they were going to die and those are exact words from parents who ended up taking their kids to the hospital," Woodward said.

Some of those patients, said Dr. William Banner of Integris Baptist Hospital, were expecting to have a marijuana-like high but experienced something far different.

"Most of the patients that we have had to see in the emergency department are agitated, have hypertension, their heart is racing, and they are very scared," he said.

The Oklahoma Poison Control Center reports more than a dozen people have gotten sick from the drugs in the last year, and Woodward believes those numbers are higher.

"Two or three times a week," he said, "we are getting phone calls either from parents about taking their kids to the hospital or we're getting ER reports.

The problem goes far beyond Yukon. Because synthetic drugs are easily accessible on the internet, Woodward said, it is continuing to grow all across Oklahoma.

"That is why we are taking such aggressive steps to get it off the shelf and put people in jail who don't care who they hurt as long as they make a profit out of it," he said.

OBN investigators confiscated the herbal products from the Yukon convenience store. They said the owner or the store clerk or both could face possible charges for violating the Synthetic Controlled Substance Act.

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