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Experts to discuss Twin Cities' increase in synthetic drug use

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Synthetic pot
This Feb. 15, 2010, photo shows a package of K2 which contains herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The drug and alcohol treatment center Hazleden is bringing together several experts Tuesday, Dec. 4 in St. Louis Park to discuss the increased use of synthetic drugs in Minnesota, especially in the metro.   

Despite the focus on heroin in recent years because of a sharp increase in the number of deaths, experts warn we shouldn't ignore synthetic drugs. The most common are synthetic marijuana and "bath salts." There are also drugs sold online as "research chemicals."

According to the most recent state report on drug abuse trends in the Twin Cities metro from June 2012, the Hennepin Regional Poison Center saw sharp increases of reports from 2010 to 2011 for synthetic drugs.  In 2010, there were just five reported cases of bath salts exposures - that jumped to 144 in 2011.  Exposures to synthetic THC, which mimics marijuana, jumped from 28 to 149 during that same period. 

  The effects from synthetic drugs can be long-term and severely disabling.   

Scott Knight, Chaska police chief, and Carol Falkowski the former drug abuse strategy officer for the state of Minnesota, talked with The Daily Circuit. They will be speaking at the conference Tuesday.