Snuffing out synthetic drugs

by: Leslie Coursey Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

The fight against synthetic drugs use among teens is taking center stage in Jacksonville.

Synthetic drugs are the latest drug trend in the crosshairs of law enforcement. Synthetics are often chemical-laced vegetation, that when smoked, mimics the effects of PCP, LSD, even heroin.  You'll sometimes see it labeled as incense in convenience stores and head shops. 

"This isn't a drug that you're going to buy on a street corner. This is something that unscrupulous clerks are selling under the counter," said Attorney General Pam Bondi. 

Bondi was in Jacksonville on Thursday to meet with federal, state, and local agents on the front line of the drug fight. She told Action News the major problem with synthetics is that they're marketed to children. 

"We had a 14-year-old girl overdose because someone gave it to her and told her it would help her study for finals," she said. 

The latest Florida Substance Abuse Survey shows synthetic drug use among high school students is down 60 percent from 2012 to 2013. But Bondi said as soon as one chemical compound is outlawed, manufacturers come up with another one.   

Agents said the first step in the fight is educating parents.  The next step is hitting the sellers where it hurts -- in their wallets.

"If you're a convenience store and you're selling this, we're going in and pulling your lottery license," Bondi said.