'Hi Science'

Synthetic drugs sprang from research.

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter
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Houston - As I was researching this story I started to wonder how synthetic marijuana came into being. The short answer is research chemicals.

According to chemists and toxicologists at the Harris County Institute For Forensic Science, the most common form of synthetic marijuana came from earnest university research. Researchers were trying to come up with a synthetic cannabinoid for medicinal purposes. In other words, create a synthetic substance that would give a person the medicinal benefits of cannabis without all the "druggy" effects.

Like any good researcher does, the findings were widely published. While accounts differ as to which researcher's work on this subject was copied, it appears the honest work done on these compounds was taken and used for what police say is an explosion of synthetic marijuana being marketed under several different brand names.

A forensic chemist at the Institute, Kay McClain says re-creating the chemical compounds is not extremely difficult. "Anybody with a basic chemistry degree can do it," McClain said.

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