By Benjamin Goad - 05/15/13 06:50 PM EDT
Various recipes marketed under names like K2 and Spice have already been prohibited since hitting U.S. streets about five years ago. New regulations to be published Thursday will move three more – known in chemical terms as UR-144, XLR11 and AKB48 – to the Schedule 1 drug list.
The list, which includes hard drugs like heroin and ecstasy, is meant for the most dangerous drugs: those with “potentially severe psychological or physical dependence,” according to the agency.
The drugs’ designation carries criminal penalties for anyone caught dealing or possessing them and reflects a finding that they are an imminent public safety hazard.
The Justice Department has documented thousands of emergency calls and hospitalizations related to the drug in recent years.
Synthetic marijuana samples tested in federal laboratories have found that the drugs vary widely in potency and are often far stronger than the natural form of the drug they seek to replicate.
“No legitimate non-research uses have been identified for these synthetic cannabinoids, nor have they been approved by FDA for human consumption,” the agency wrote in the new regulations. “These unknown factors present a significant risk of danger to the abuser.”
The agency first proposed the rule last month.