DEA Struggles As Production of Street Drug “Moon Rocks” Soars

synthetic marijuana

When considering the extensive and difficult war on drugs, one thing that has always proven to be a challenge for drug enforcement officials is staying abreast of new developments in the manufacture of drug substances. There are, of course, naturally-derived drug substances like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, but there are also a wide variety of synthetic drug substances, like methamphetamine, that must be combated in order to bring about a healthier society. But what happens when the drug manufacturers constantly make subtle shifts to their formulas in order to stay ahead of drug enforcement efforts?

Moon Rocks

Moon Rocks, which is also known as Spice, K2, Skunk or synthetic marijuana, is a laboratory-produced, dangerous, mind-altering drug substance that has exploded in popularity over the last ten years. Thanks to constant formula changes and clever marketing, it is always just one step ahead of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to arrest its production and sale. Moon Rocks are produced primarily in giant underground laboratories, mainly in China, which are turning out thousands of pounds of this dangerous chemical on a regular basis. Just last week the DEA arrested a man who was running a lab that allegedly was producing the chemicals for roughly seventy percent of all Moon Rocks sold in the United States.

Moon Rocks are often marketed as a safer alternative to traditional marijuana when actually it is quite a dangerous chemical substance and can prove to be deadly. It looks like herbs in a shiny package, and is often deceptively labeled as “Potpourri” or “Plant food” and “Not intended for human consumption” in an effort to sidestep laws that would prevent its sale. The DEA’s attempts to control the production and sale of this drug depend largely upon their restriction of the sale of certain chemicals used in the manufacture of this drug. However, manufacturers respond to this “challenge” by changing the ingredients so quickly, while producing the drug in such massive quantities, that drug enforcement officials simply cannot keep up.

Some reports indicate that drugs like Moon Rocks, or synthetic marijuana, have been responsible for the deaths of approximately one thousand Americans since 2009. Even more alarming is the fact that many of these individuals were high schoolers.

The Production of Moon Rocks

The production of moon rocks, or synthetic marijuana, begins with the production of powdered chemicals. The drugs are then packed into large bags and shipped to the United States in huge containers that are often labeled as “fertilizer” or “industrial solvent” in order to deceive drug enforcement officials.

Once the drugs arrive in the United States, they are purchased by wholesale buyers. The powdered chemicals are liquefied by being dissolved in either acetone or alcohol, and then they are poured over dry plant matter before being packaged in shiny, metallic baggies for sale. Despite the fact that these baggies are labeled as “Not intended for human consumption”, individuals purchase them with the exact intention of rolling up and smoking the contents.

A Deadly Problem

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has stated that this year alone, poison centers have received reports of over thirty-five hundred exposures to synthetic marijuana products. Experts warn that the label “synthetic marijuana” is a dangerous one, as these drugs can produce very different effects than marijuana, and can be up to one hundred times more potent than natural marijuana. The main psychoactive ingredients in synthetic marijuana bind to the brain’s CB1 receptors and can cause anything from seizures to psychosis in the user. It is safe to say that this deadly drug is better left alone.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.