State enacts emergency rule to ban new synthetic drug

(Source: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals)
(Source: Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals)

BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) - State health officials, top lawmakers and law enforcement personnel combined Friday to hold a news conference to announce steps they have taken to ban a dangerous new drug, 25i, making it illegal in Louisiana.

According to a news release from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, 25i, also called Smiles or N-Bomb, has been added to the state's Controlled Dangerous Substance Act, effective immediately.

Officials said similar to "bath salts," which Louisiana made illegal two years ago following several deaths, 25i is a synthetic drug that can cause brain hemorrhaging, seizures, hallucinations, confusion, paranoia, fear and panic.

Lawmakers began eyeing criminalizing the drug after an Arkansas man died last week in New Orleans after reportedly overdosing on 25i at a festival.

At least five people have died nationwide this year after taking 25i, including the man who died in Louisiana, according to officials. Other deaths reportedly occurred in Minnesota, North Dakota, California and North Carolina.  Today, Louisiana becomes the second state, along with Virginia, to make 25i illegal.

"Over the past three months, the Louisiana Poison Center has received two calls related to 25i, but health officials suspect more cases have occurred because without advanced lab analysis, it is difficult to pinpoint what type of drug is responsible for a drug overdose. Some drug overdoses that medical personnel or law enforcement presumed to be bath salts or other illicit drugs could be 25i or another of many synthetic drugs," the release states.

DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said that as manufacturers create new, synthetic narcotics, more lethal drugs have crept into communities.

"We are taking swift action to make 25i illegal and get it off the streets. The chemicals that go into these dangerous substances have no legitimate, medical uses and we are taking all steps available to find and punish those distributing it so we can keep our state safe," he said.

Louisiana revised statute 40:962, gives the DHH Secretary and State Health Officer authority to add new compounds as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Dangerous Substance Act by rule if the substance has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in the U.S., and if there is no accepted safety use of the substance under medical supervision.

Officials said the synthetic drug is commonly manufactured in China and India, and is being sold in powder and liquid form online, which is how people access it in the United States.

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