BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – A new drug hitting the streets may soon have law enforcement agencies nationwide saying here we go again.
Reports of illegal synthetic drugs like K-2 and bath salts have appeared to go down recently, but it seems a new substance has emerged as the next big threat.
The drug is called 2C-I but is better known as "smiles."
Its effects have proven fatal, causing local law enforcement to get ready for this drug seemingly spreading across the country.
"If you get on the Internet and just look up 'synthetic drugs, smiles,' it'll scare you," said Steve Jeffery, the Independence County sheriff.
Browsing the Internet recently, Jeffery learned about smiles, with effects that are hardly humorous.
"This stuff here is so strong. I call it LSD on steroids," Jeffery said. "You could die on the first hit of it. I hope it doesn't make it here, but it probably will."
The sheriff says it seems inevitable that smiles, which can cause powerful hallucinations, will reach this area. There have been no reports of it locally, but he fears the history may repeat itself after the unexpected popularity of other synthetic drugs.
"As far as the 'posh' and the bath salts, two years ago, we had really never heard of it around here," Jeffery said. "We had heard about it in the northern part of the [United] States, and all of a sudden it was in every convenience store here for sale."
He says smiles is found for sale online. His research has also shown that the drug is among teenagers who can snort, swallow or smoke it. Even more troubling, he says, was an incident recently in North Dakota.
Two teens died after allegedly overdosing on the drug. One of them, a 17-year-old boy, reportedly beat his own head against the ground.
Investigators have also hinted that "Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis may have used the drug before killing his landlady and himself last month.
"If you use it, of course you're taking your life in your own hands," the sheriff added. "We will charge someone with the maximum anytime we find this stuff. Independence County is not going to tolerate it."
Smiles or 2C-I now joins other synthetic drugs classified by the DEA as a Schedule 1 substance. That means making, possessing or using it is considered a felony offense.