25 killed, over 700 hospitalized: Cheap ‘Spice’ designer drug causes severe poisoning across Russia

A new dementia-causing designer drug in several Russian regions has caused an epidemic that has poisoned hundreds of young addicts, at times causing fatal respiratory failure. The country’s authorities are worried about the rapid spread of the narcotic.

Russia's Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS) is taking action to stop the distribution of a deadly compound, MDMB /N/-Bz F, sweeping the country. This synthetic cannabinoid is being dissolved to soak into herbal tea, and then smoked.

There have been reports of 25 fatal cases so far, and over 700 people seeking urgent medical assistance in at least three regions of the country, where MDMB /N/-Bz F has been widely used. The Health Ministry has reported that a majority of people hospitalized are younger than 30, with the average age estimated at 24.

Designer drugs known generically as “Spice” are known for several years now, because they could be sold by drug pushers for some time without them being prosecuted – until the active component of the mixture is added to a list of prohibited substances. And they are very cheap, about $15 a dose, making them affordable for young people.

Young man unconscious after inhaling 'spice' fumes. Video still from YouTube

The drugs cause psychic disorders among those who smoke them. The latest compound, MDMB /N/-Bz F, turned out to be a real poison, sending users into vegetative state, provoking dementia and even respiratory arrest, which in some cases resulted in deaths.

“I remember the feeling it gave me – after some sort of euphoria I was drowning in the wave of paranoia, I was afraid of going outside, of meeting people. It was horrible,” Igor, a 26-year-old former drug addict, told RT.
Igor claims he has tried pretty much everything from synthetic drugs to different smoking mixes and he believes “Spice” represents the biggest danger.

“Because of those chemicals that are used in it, it brings damage to your system straight away, people who use them get addicted very fast and get brain disorders. I’ve seen it myself,” Igor said.

The majority of those who found themselves in hospital after trying MDMB /N/-Bz F told medics that it was an “experiment.” But for some underage users, Spice resulted poisoning, Russian media reported.

A group of youth unconscious after smoking 'spice'. Video still from YouTube

The deadly drug was originally produced in Southeast Asia and then brought into Russia, where a group of drug dealers arrested by the drug control agency in the Siberian city of Surgut now face prison terms of up to 20 years.

According to the FDCS, in Moscow alone about 90 Spice pushers have been arrested this year, with over 190 kilograms of designer drugs confiscated. The majority, up to 70 percent, of the drug pushers are not Russian citizens, the drugs control agency says.

The drugs are being trafficked to Russia from a large number of countries, including Belarus, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, Britain, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine, the agency says.

The FDCS has applied to outlaw the MDMB /N/-Bz F compound, while Russia’s State Anti-Drug Committee has prepared a law banning all “designer drug” mixtures the moment they are discovered.

Several years ago, a similar drug scandal rocked the US, where designer drugs were sold as bath salts. Following thousands of reports of their use, US authorities banned the mixtures.