by: Tom Regan Updated:
DUNWOODY, Ga. - As the health dangers of synthetic marijuana become well known, Channel 2 Action News has learned major colleges in Georgia are now testing athletes to see if they're using the mind-altering drug.
Two of the main reasons why synthetic pot became so popular was that it was once legal, and it couldn't be detected in urine tests.
That's all changed now. Channel 2's Tom Regan went to a Dunwoody company that is working with colleges in Georgia and out of state to ensure athletes stay clean.
"Recently this year, we have added synthetic marijuana as one of their protocols," Jim McLochlin from Lab Test MD said.
McLochin told Regan his firm coordinates testing for hundreds of Georgia Tech athletes each year, including members of the football team.
Now, in addition to the usual drug screening, Georgia Tech is requiring athletes be tested for synthetic cannabinoids.
"Tech is dedicated to keeping their student athletes safe and they think it's an important to add to the regimen and protocols we put together," McLochlin said.
Georgia Tech isn't alone. Regan contacted University of Georgia and Georgia State University. Both schools said they too are now testing athletes for synthetic marijuana.
Until only recently, synthetic marijuana was not detectable in routine scholastic drug screenings. And as manufacturers alter compounds, tests must also be tweaked to spot chemical variations in the drug.
"Through that process, when we are doing other types of
Mclochlin told Regan not only are more secondary schools and companies testing for synthetic pot, he's seeing a growing number of individual parents checking to see if their children are putting themselves at risk.
"My kid's not acting normal. We're getting parents coming and
saying, 'There's something up.' We can help to figure that out," McLochlin said.
Georgia Tech told Regan none of their athletes tested positive for synthetic marijuana.
Regan checked and the vast majority of public schools in metro Atlanta do not test athletes for any drugs.