DC leaders: New tests created will be able to detect synthetic drugs

WASHINGTON -- D.C. leaders said they have a new tool to detect the dangerous chemicals in synthetic drugs. It is coming at a time when they are warning the community about the dangers of these drugs.

Despite the innocent sounding names that include K2, Spice and Scooby Snax, they are filled with harmful chemicals.

The dangers of synthetic drugs have been seen at D.C. homeless shelters, but there is an emerging new young user.

"We are anxious to get out to the schools and talk to kids about it because we just don't want to see it go to our kids because it is showing an uptick also in our teen population," said Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy Pohlhaus.

"A lot of teens started using this stuff because it was undetectable in drug testing in the beginning, but now we do know scientists have already created new drug tests that enable it to come up as a positive reading," said a representative with the DC Prevention Center.

That means the days are numbered for undetectable synthetic drugs.

Shelter resident Edwin Lowery said he has been smoking the fake drugs for at least two years now.

Lowery said he smoked it less than 24 hours before we spoke with him. We met the 46-year-old Tuesday night at a meeting hosted by the District's U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Maybe if I do want to stop completely, that there's treatment for it," he said.

If not, for Lowery and scores of new young users, the synthetic drugs could now show up in a drug test.

"We are raising the alarm and we're asking the federal government to do just a few things, some of which can be done tomorrow -- field testing, the ability to prosecute these cases, and requiring those that are required to have drug screens to be under community supervision to get these tests is not too much to ask," said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier.

Tuesday night's meeting was the second synthetic drug awareness meeting of its kind. The third and final presentation is next Wednesday.

The District's U.S. Attorney's Office also wants to remind people synthetic drugs are an unknown illegal substance.