Louisville - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Louisville UPS express consignment operation seized three shipments from China containing more than 20 pounds of the synthetic marijuana compound JWH-018.
CBP examination revealed an unidentifiable white powder in Ziploc bags, concealed within outer bags made of foil which was consistent with past interdictions of synthetic designer drugs. CBP Laboratory and Scientific Services in Chicago confirmed the material was JWH-018 and estimated that one gram of synthetic marijuana contains 1/10 tenth of a percent of JWH-018, which means over 200 pounds of synthetic marijuana could be produced using the seized shipments.
"Using synthetic marijuana is extremely dangerous. Users of these synthetic drugs have no real idea that what they are ingesting and that it is potentially lethal," said David Murphy, CBP director of field operations in Chicago. "These CBP seizures demonstrate the concentrated efforts to which our officers, partnering with CBP's Laboratory and Scientific Services, have gone in their efforts to detect, identify and seize substances that could harm our community and put our youth at risk."
JWH-018 originated at Clemson University, where researchers developed synthetic cannabinoids in an effort to create therapeutic drugs but can also mimic the narcotic effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The original developers have said that the effects in humans have not been studied and could very well be toxic. Side effects can include elevated heart rates, paranoia, vomiting and hallucinations. Synthetic marijuana has recently been added to the Controlled Substance Act as a Schedule I narcotic.
CBP officers and agriculture specialists are stationed at the express consignment facilities located throughout the country. CBP constantly conducts enforcement operations on international parcels and on the lookout for any type of contraband or prohibited items being shipped to the U.S.