New synthetic drug hits Albuquerque

Posted at: 10/17/2012 7:41 PM
Updated at: 10/17/2012 8:14 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

While Albuquerque fights the war against the synthetic marijuana substitute known as "spice", another synthetic drug is rising up to take its place, with potentially deadly consequences.

It is known as 2C-I, pronounced "2-C-eye" and is also called "smiles." Getting it is as easy as logging online.

Jess Benson with the New Mexico Poison Center said 2C-I was introduced back in 2003, but is now becoming the drug of choice for people under the age of 30.

"It's illegal to buy it, to sell it, to use it," Benson said.

It comes in the form of a beige, powdery substance and is described by users as similar to ecstasy, but with even more alarming side-effects.

"What happens typically is the person becomes very agitated, they start to sweat, often they'll have muscle cramping and then as the symptoms progress, they'll have seizures," Benson said.

It can even cause cardiac arrest, Benson said. 

The drug is suspected in two teen deaths in North Dakota.  So far, Benson said, there are no known reports of overdose cases in Albuquerque.

Like spice and bath salts, 2C-I is made up of chemical compounds easily modified to skirt laws and end up on smoke shop shelves.

There is also a whole menu of designer compounds online being sold from anonymous sources and big risk-takers.

"Unfortunately this is only the beginning rather than the end," Benson said.

When one compound comes onto the market, it is followed by a big effort to remove it, and is just as quickly replaced with another one, Benson said.  2C-I is just the latest in popularity.