2011 Monitoring the Future Study Results on Synthetic Marijuana
For the next several weeks I’ll be addressing the release of the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey results. The Monitoring the Future (MTF) study is a long-term epidemiological study that surveys trends in legal and illicit use among American adolescents in 8th, 10th and 12th grades.
The survey is conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, funded by research grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. MTF results are important to us in Ulster County as it gives us national comparison data as we review the results of our biannual Ulster County Youth Development Survey. from the
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has issued a Call for Action based on what it called one of the most noteworthy findings of the latest MTF survey. The 2011 survey included for the first time a question on past-year use of synthetic marijuana among high school seniors. Synthetic marijuana (specifically “Spice” and “K2”) consists of leaves of ordinary plants sprayed with chemicals that mimic the mind-altering effects of marijuana. Clemson University organic chemist John W. Huffman created the K2 compound in the mid-1990s to mimic the effects of cannabis on the brain.
The MTF results indicate that the prevalence of use in the past year among 12th graders was estimated at 11.4%. Synthetic marijuana ranked as the second most frequently used illicit substance, after marijuana, among high school seniors.
The 2010 Ulster County YDS did not survey synthetic marijuana use. However, a local scan found that such substances are readily available in gas stations and convenience stores, and local school districts report incidences of students bringing these substances to school.
In 2011, the DEA used emergency scheduling authority to ban the sale of the chemicals used to manufacture K2 and Spice. Many states, including New York, have taken action to ban the chemicals as well. However, manufacturers “tweak” the formulations used to produce these products. An internet search today readily turns up dozens of sites selling “K2 Incense Spice” marketed as “Spicester” and declared to be legal in New York.
Given the latest data, ONDCP states that it will be reaching out to a nationwide network of state and local public health and safety organizations to provide them with the latest information on this public health threat and spur action at the local level. The Ulster Prevention Council welcomes your observations and comments regarding synthetic marijuana in Ulster County.