The next generation of synthetic cannabinoids has turned up in the police crime lab.

“In a two-week period, a number of samples came through that I initially wasn’t able to identify,” crime lab director Tony Tambasco said. According to Tambasco, there were 14 suspected Ecstasy samples. One sample proved to be Ecstasy, while eight others contained a drug commonly seen in Ecstasy.

“I’ve got five that are just strange,” Tambasco said. “They look to be two or three different things.

“They’re brand new to us.”

They could be brand new to users, too.

“People really don’t know what they’re taking,” Tambasco said.

“They don’t know what they’re getting involved in.”

Tambasco said the new drugs are a response to other synthetic cannabinoids being banned. In June 2011, Mansfield outlawed synthetic cannabinoids and other synthetic drugs, including bath salts, in response to the bath salts epidemic.

In October, the state approved a ban on bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

“Is it a cat-and-mouse game or what?” Tambasco asked. “It’s almost like they read our legislation. They (new submissions) don’t fit the banned substance
groups.”

Congress has agreed to add 26 synthetic drugs to the Controlled Substances Act under Senate Bill 3187, which awaits the president’s signature. This next
generation of synthetic cannabinoids is not addressed. New synthetic drugs are infesting north central Ohio. Tambasco said the new drugs have not been seen yet locally, but were submitted by other agencies within the 10-county METRICH Enforcement Unit region. He declined to say which communities were involved.

“We’re spending a heck of a lot of time on them,” Tambasco said. “We expect an occasional new drug to come along, but getting a bunch of these at one time is
taxing.

“We want the community to know what’s out there and what the potential issues are going to be.”

The Drug Enforcement Agency has helped the city’s crime lab in providing analytical profiles.

“Having an outstanding chemist in Tony Tambasco lead our state-of-the-art crime laboratory in Mansfield has helped us to stay on top of these emerging drug
trends,” police Chief Dino Sgambellone said. “The unfortunate reality with drug abuse is that as long as there are people willing to put these chemicals into their
bodies, suppliers will continue to try and develop unique substances and compounds to subvert the law.”

Originally published in the News Journal on July 3, 2012.