Health and Fitness

Senator Kirk Calls for Chinese Cooperation to Stop Flow of Deadly Synthetic Marijuana

O’Hare Becoming Major Hub for Lethal Drug Ravaging Illinois

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–June 23, 2014.  As Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport rapidly becomes one of the largest hubs in the world for deadly synthetic marijuana, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today joined representatives of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to detail efforts to stop the flow of synthetic marijuana into the United States. Sen. Kirk recently sent a letter to the Chinese government requesting answers on the topic and demanding a crackdown on the export of these drugs. Teenagers in the Chicago suburbs and across the state are using these substances without knowing the danger and sometimes with fatal consequences.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) is one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations and is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating lawful international travel and trade. Included in CBP’s mission is the screening of international mail and the prevention of illicit or dangerous items or substances from entering the United States. CBP has been at the forefront in the interdiction and identification of various synthetic cannabinoid compounds and chemical agents. CBP is bringing to bear its resources, including sophisticated scientific analysis, and highly trained officers in the field, to help identify and interdict harmful synthetic drugs.

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“Synthetic drugs are extremely dangerous and have now become the drug of choice for teenagers in the Chicagoland area—it is a growing problem every parent needs know about,” Sen. Kirk said. “As the major hub for these drugs that are harming children and sending profits to countries of state-sponsored terrorism such as Syria and Yemen, Customs and Border Protection here at O’Hare are doing great work, but we need to cut off the flow of synthetic marijuana from the source.”

Nearly all synthetic marijuana substances come from China, and, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, 50-65 percent of the profits from the sale of these substances go to the Middle East, particularly hundreds of millions of dollard to Yemen, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Drug Monitoring Study, synthetic marijuana has become the thrid-highest category of drug usage among 8th graders, with 4.4 percent rate of use, behind only traditional marijuana and inhalants.

More synthetic cannabinoids (synthetic marijuana) have been seized at O’Hare than all the heroin in the state by state law enforcement.

Full text of the letter Sen. Kirk sent to the government of China is below.

May 30, 2014

The Honorable Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Ambassador Cui:

I urge you to work with your government to combat the flow of illicit synthetic chemical substances from China into the United States. These synthetic drugs are a significant threat to public health and safety, and are also used to fund illegal activity. The majority of these substances are produced and packaged in China and exported to the United States. I ask that your government take immediate measures to crackdown on this growing industry.

Synthetic drug usage is a growing concern in not just the United States, but globally. The chemicals used to create these drugs are often more dangerous than the illicit substances whose effects they mimic. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) identified over 200 new varieties of these drugs in the last five years, making regulation nearly impossible. More than 90 countries are reporting synthetic drug seizures. The number of synthetic cannabinoids, which mimic Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, has doubled in the last year alone leading to serious medical conditions and even death.

A majority of these substances are exported from China into the United States by airmail. The United States Customs and Border Patrol seizes a significant amount of these chemicals packaged and ready for distribution at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Illinois. The packages often contain labeling suggesting that the product is not intended for human consumption, but the overall appearance and retail price suggest that they are intended to be a substitute for illegal drugs. Chinese manufacturers are constantly changing and disguising the packaging, making these synthetic drugs difficult for law enforcement to identify but more attractive to young users.

Ending the export of synthetic drugs is critical to attacking a growing health crisis in the United States and to cutting a resourceful market for criminals and terrorists. I urge you to work with Chinese authorities and international law enforcement partners to combat these dangerous synthetic chemicals. I look forward to your response regarding this issue of critical importance to my constituents.


Mark Kirk
U.S. Senator



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