People in major cities are dying from overdoses and violent crime is on the rise, thanks, in part, to the use of synthetic marijuana.
Overwhelmed police chiefs in Washington this week called for development of field tests to help law enforcement officers more quickly determine who might be on these dangerous drugs. 
Synthetic marijuana, which is sold under names like K2, Scooby Snax and Spice, contain various chemicals, but no actual marijuana. Users typically have no idea what they’re smoking. They apparently also don’t know – or don’t care – what the noxious mix can do to their bodies. 
John W. Huffman, Ph.D., who designed synthetic marijuana for research purposes, said he couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to try it recreationally, and that “idiots” who try it are basically playing Russian Roulette.
Unlike regular marijuana, fake pot can cause severe side effects such as:
- chest pain
- cardiac problems
- kidney damage
- acute psychosis
- brain damage
- death. 
Looking at the list of potential side effects, it becomes easy to see how the substance could be a serious problem for law enforcement. The DEA is struggling to accurately classify synthetic marijuana, as the toxin-laden products fall under a broad label of depressant-hallucinogens.
It’s even harder for police to stop the sale of synthetic cannabis, which was banned by the federal government in 2012, due to the wide range of chemicals used to make it. Things have become so dire that they’ve dubbed it “weaponized marijuana.”  
In New York and other cities, the homeless population has been hit particularly hard by the synthetic marijuana phenomenon. It can be purchased all over New York City for as little as $2 and the homeless are regularly overdosing and dying. 
“The synthetic marijuana issue has been one of great and growing concern here in New York,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton at a press conference on Tuesday in which he also released monthly crime statistics. “You are going to see a lot more of it in the short term.” 
At the press conference, the NYPD showed a video of a naked man, high on synthetic marijuana, ranting and using his fist to smash a hole in a wooden fence. A group of police officers were shown pepper-spraying and tackling the man to the ground. A separate video featured yet a second naked man crouching in the middle of the street, delirious and screaming at the ground. 
More than 1,900 people were admitted to hospitals in New York between April 1 and July 31 after using synthetic marijuana, including one individual who used his hands to stop an electric saw being used by police to open a door. The substance gives users superhuman strength, making it difficult if not impossible for police to arrest people. 
“These individuals, many of them under the influence of this drug, are totally crazy, superhuman strength, impervious to pain. So some of the normal takedowns that we would use are not going to work,” Bratton said. 
 CBS New York