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New Hampshire Declares Emergency Over Synthetic Drug 'Smacked'

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency on Thursday in response to 44 reported overdoses linked to people smoking or ingesting "Smacked," a synthetic marijuana-like product sold in convenience stores as potpourri. The state of emergency authorizes public health officials to investigate stores and quarantine the product. Nearly all the overdoses, none fatal, have been reported in the Manchester area since Aug. 11. Police say they’ve found Smacked in three convenience stores and that those stores' business licenses were revoked. Health officials are particularly concerned about the bubblegum flavor of Smacked, which several people who were brought to area hospitals reported taking.

The packets contain a potpourri-like substance sprayed with chemically engineered substances similar to tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, officials said. A federal ban on compounds found in synthetic marijuana products and bath salts was enacted in 2012, and New Hampshire and more than 40 other states adopted similar bans. But such laws have proven difficult to enforce, as drug makers can make slight modifications to the products' chemical compositions.

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— Reuters