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Published June 21, 2012, 06:04 PM

Police Struggling to Stay Ahead of New, Deadly Synthetic Drug Threat

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Police are speaking out on what they say is a major synthetic drug problem in the Red River Valley.

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Police are speaking out on what they say is a major synthetic drug problem in the Red River Valley.

Two teens are dead because of it and one is behind bars with a murder charge.

The drugs are legal, they don't show up on drug tests and local teens are using them.

Police are speaking out on what they say is a major synthetic drug problem in the Red River Valley.

A drug recognition expert warned people today that these types of synthetic drugs and bath salts are so dangerous they can cause suicidal and homicidal tendencies. But exactly how they affect each person is different.

"Looking around the room, actually picking things out of the air, putting them in their hand, petting them, you know obviously there's some hallucinations going on at that point," said Grand Forks Police officer Travis Jacobson.

The compounds people use to make the types of synthetic drugs linked to recent overdose cases in Grand Forks are legal, but lethal. They're very dangerous, even more so than your typical opiates and stimulants.

"Any time that you mix just these compounds that you don't know the reaction to because this stuff is so new," said Jacobson.

Sgt. Jacobson calls it a game of "cat and mouse." As soon as officers feel like they're on top of the drug problem, something new comes out. And how drug users get high, is also changing.

"They're putting it in candy, they're putting it on blotter paper, they're putting it in liquid drinks," said Jacobson.

18-year-old Adam Budge is sitting in the Polk County Jail on four charges that could land him a total of 70 years in prison because he laced a candy bar with white powder. 17-year-old Elijah Stai of Park Rapids ate that candy bar, and it cost him his life. And a week before that, 18-year old Christian Bjerk of Grand Forks was found dead, face down on a sidewalk. That case too, because of drugs.

"It's very unpredictable, Very dangerous, it's so unknown how someone's going to react," said Jacobson.

The North Dakota Board of Pharmacy can enforce an emergency ban on the substance but the fact that they don't know exactly what the substance is makes it hard.

"We're reluctant to do emergency rule making, not that we wouldn't. Unfortunately there are people who will come out and sell stuff, even when it is illegal," said Howard Anderson, Executive Director of the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy.

The criminal complaint says Elijah Stai was acting "possessed," and his breathing and heart rate were "extremely" fast.

The Board of Pharmacy already has a draft on what the legislation would look like, so it's likely to be presented next session.

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