"Fweed', and the Herbal Incense Revolution"
What is "Fweed"?
Over the years, America's war on drugs has evolved into a desperate battle between law-enforcement agencies, street-users, and dealers. This struggle has endured for several decades, with only minimal progress being made by law-enforcement in staunching the flow of illicit drugs to, and through, this country. This invasion has prompted outrage among many government officials, who cite budget cut-backs as being their primary deterrant, as well as the profuse evolution of new, inexpensive, technologies. Enter "Fweed", a non-narcotic, and deceptively, legal alternative to marijuana.
"Fweed", which stands for "fake weed", was first produced in the late eighties for clinical purposes, and later introduced in Europe for recreational purposes. Originally known as "spice", Fweed relies upon various forms of synthetic THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to deliver a "high" that is puportedly many times that of natural cannabinoids (ie. JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, HU-210, HU-211, or cannabicyclohexanol, etc.). Many users claim to have experienced a euphoric, almost out-of-body, high that is said to emulate the effects of potent marijuana and LSD. While many claim that the drug is entirely safe, evidence suggests that there is the possibility of psychological addiction, along with the potential for post-acute-withdrawal symptomology.
While little is known about the short-term medical-effects of herbal incenses and potpourris, even less is known about the long-term ones. Routinely, discoveries are being made that are disclosing the true nature of this "god-send" for what it really is: another drug. Reports are mounting concerning respiratory ailments, seizures, anxietic states, and even death; and without reliable testing, these reports can only continue to escalate. After all, only eight years have lapsed since the drugs' initial inception into this country, and even less that it has been studied.
By early 2004, herbal incenses and potpourris had found their way into the American market, and a revolution had been born. Many people who formerly used marijuana illegally, could now enjoy a legal high that was not only more potent, but less expensive as well. Marketed as either a potpourri or incense, these blends were completely legal as no governing laws yet existed. They also warned against human consumption, and did not usually include any contact information. But as popularity grew, law-enforcement apathy waned; until eventually, the drugs presence was felt in almost every facet of society. Today, this same epidemic can be seen in the countless varieties of Fweed that can be purchased by nearly anyone, regardless of age or location, despite the fact that such products have never been tested by the FDA, and rely upon private labs for testing.
Fweed: The Legal Wrangle
The legal question surrounding Fweed is a complicated one. While eight southern and mid-western states are adopting legislation banning the use or distribution of certain synthetic cannabinoids (AL, AR, GA, KS, KY, MI, ND, TN,). Only one (MS) has entirely banned them. Since a deficit exists regarding federal legislation, many state and local governments have drafted their own policies, thereby making the laws difficult to enforce since no uniform code currently exists. This dilemma is quickly changing however, with the advent of new legislation meant to prohibit the use or sale of certain synthetic cannabinoids. On March 1, 2011, the DEA finally passed emergency legislation effectively banning the use, possession, or distribution of six particular cannabinoids (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, JWH-250, AM-2201, RCS-4, and their metabolites). While the government continues to struggle with legal hurtles and time-lines, it must also learn to keep pace with science if it ever hopes to compete with the profound thinking and concise ingenuity that comprises the many basement labs and back-alley shops where this epidemic thrives.
Fweed: The Future Weed?
While the war on drugs may appear to be slowing down, certain battles are actually speeding up. These battles, though, are not being waged in the streets, but in the laboratory, where the race to create even more potent, legal versions of the drug are constantly evolving. This evolution is contingent upon the lab's ability to consistently produce a version of the drug that is compliant with current regulations. Once these conditions are met, it is then the government's responsibility to ultimately prove that these versions contain illicit chemicals, or pose a threat to public safety. Should the government declare such findings, it is then when the manufacturer's will alter their current version of the drug for compliancy.
With this rat-race in full swing, manufacturers have stepped-up their pace in creating better, stronger, versions of their drugs. Today, it is estimated that there are at least two-hundred different manufacturers of these drugs, offering a plethora of different scents and potencies. The internet alone offers many different varieties, which can be inconspicuously shipped over-night to one's door-step or post-office box, thereby safely and effectively eliminating the need to transport such products. Much like a strain of influenza, these drugs have reached epidemic proportions by consistently evolving to meet legal demands, with the sole problem being that there is no known cure for their spread. Law enforcement can only be so effective when confronted with such adversity, especially since it has already been embroiled in a long, costly, war. Ultimately, this fight will not be fought or won by law enforcement; but rather by the morality of each man, woman, and child, who must decide whether it is dreams that each pouch contains...or nightmares. Our decision lies in our own self-honesty, and in our ability to discern the truth from the lies. The sole truth about any chemical, synthetic or otherwise, is that if it is used, there is the potential for abuse.
Fweed the Need?
If asked about substance use/abuse, most people generally offer a thousand bad reasons pertaing to why they do not have one good excuse for their usage. Many, therefore, have touted Fweed as being a ray of hope amid an already darkening horizon. Until recently, there had been no known test for herbal potpourris and incense, which thus allowed many former pot users to safely enjoy a high without the threat of legal, occupational, or societal consequences. This has changed. In December 2011, a saliva test was developed that would enable testing for synthetic cannabinoids for up to seventy-two hours. Though rumored to be both costly and somewhat imprecise, officials expect to see widespread use of the tests once all technical issues have been resolved. Currently, there are no FDA approved saliva tests on the market; however, there are approved urine screens that can not only test for fweed, but for many other drugs as well. These tests are purported to be much more accurate than their salivary counterparts, though their cost may be much higher.
Of Fweed and Man...
Since the dawn of civilization, man has sought out a way of escaping himself and his environment from within the trampled grape. Today, little if anything, has changed. The grape, while still prevalent, has joined ranks with a number of other allies, all of which invariably act upon the users mind and/or body. While these newer participants may appear more tantalizing via unproven medical testing, they are truly no different than their predecessors. All produce a desired, or undesired effect, and all have the potential to be lethal. Perhaps one day, such chemicals will be safely made and tested in a legitimate, clinical, environment; where human life ultimately out-weighs the greed belying this ugly war.