New, legal, synthetic pot formula on store shelves

by: Tom Regan Updated:

ATLANTA - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says a new and potentially harmful form of synthetic marijuana is being sold at convenience stores and smoke shops in metro Atlanta.

"It's something completely different," said Nelly Miles, GBI Chemistry Section manager.

Miles showed Channel 2's Tom Regan a diagram of the chemical compound called UR-144.

It is legal to buy and sell because it does not contain ingredients banned under an expanded Georgia law in April.

The drug, which is often referred to as herbal incense, can produce the euphoric effects of marijuana, but it can also be dangerously unpredictable.

"In order to make this new chemical, there's no telling what kind of effect it can have. These drugs are virtually unstudied," Miles said.

Last week, the investigative office of the GBI sent out an agency-wide email to warn agents of the new formula.

"We felt it was just a matter of time before we would see these new products out there. What this product brings, we don't know yet. But it's not going to be good news for somebody," said John Bankhead, GBI spokesman.

Channel 2 Action News first reported medical emergencies linked to synthetic marijuana two years ago.

In 2011, the Georgia Poison Center reported 319 calls from emergency rooms related to synthetic marijuana.

There have been 107 calls since the beginning of 2012, they said.

The GBI said it will ask the Georgia General Assembly to modify the controlled substances act to include the new synthetic pot formula.

Channel 2 Action News

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