TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said she is disgusted by an aggressive new marketing ploy by drug dealers to get children to try synthetic drugs sold legally over the counter in many stores and over the Internet.
Bondi joined forces with law enforcement officers at the state Capitol Tuesday as she announced a new ban on synthetic drugs sold under names such as Scooby Snax, Cotton Candy, D-ZL potpourri and apple Kush.
Bondi has filed an emergency order banning 22 new synthetic drugs. They're proving to be an ongoing problem in Florida and across the nation.
Florida first banned six types of synthetic drugs in 2011. When drug dealers slightly changed the chemical composition to get the products back on store shelves, state lawmakers banned 92 more drugs.
Bondi said the new drug concoctions can seriously hurt or kill users. Synthetic drugs can cause psychotic episodes, hallucinations, seizures, tremors and more.
Bondi is angered by marketing that targets children.
"It's disgusting. This isn't directed at a high school child. This is directed at a middle schooler. Scooby Doo. Cotton Candy, it feels like cotton candy. It's all about making money for these drug dealers."
Bondi's emergency order makes it a felony to sell, make, deliver or possess the drugs. She said police officers are checking stores now to make sure the synthetic drugs are off the shelves.
"I can tell you one thing. If you're a convenience store and you're selling this stuff and you know it's illegal, you take it off your shelves when you see police officers and you put it back on, we're coming after you. We will put you out of business and we will do everything in our power to put you out of business because you're no better than a common street-level drug dealer."
Bondi said a new report finds more than 11,000 people were treated in hospital ER's for synthetic drugs in 2010. Alarmingly, 75 percent were between the ages of 12 and 29. Bondi said the sad truth is 12-year-old children are buying these drugs and too many kids are overdosing.
The drugs are marketed as "legal highs." Florida Surgeon General John Armstrong said 11 percent of high school seniors admitted to using synthetic cannabinoids last year. He says drug dealers are making more dangerous substances by changing the molecular structure of the active ingredient and making them technically legal.
But Bondi vows to keep the pressure on these drug dealers.
"We are not going to let them get ahead of us. We are going to put them out of business. That's why we have a united front."
First Coast News