S1 E6: Throughout the U.S., emergency rooms have seen a spike in drug overdoses involving extreme paranoia, psychosis, and some fatalities. The culprit? A new generation of synthetic drugs with benign-sounding names like Bath Salts, Vanilla Sky, and Cloud 9. Sold at head shops, gas stations, and online for as little at $20, the substances mimic marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, and other illicit drugs. And just like these hardcore drugs, their side effects can be dangerous and even deadly at times. Synthetic drugs are designed by drug “chemists” who tweak the substances’ formulas to try and keep the drugs legal, often relying on trial-and error. In some cases, synthetic drugs are too new to be regulated – though law enforcement is catching up, outlawing the drugs soon after they hit the streets. They’re relatively cheap and easy to get over the internet. And they’re making lots of money for the producers and sellers. Rick Broider, president of the North American Herbal Incense Trade Association located in New Hampshire, produces a variety of synthetic substances including synthetic marijuana. His organization claims that their products churn out big-time profits: $5.4 billion. Broider disputes that synthetic drugs have harmed anyone. “Would we be a $5 billion dollar industry if people were truly dying?” he says. Federal law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, as well as several local agencies, such as the Tammany Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Office, which covers an area hard-hit by synthetic drugs, have agreed to give us access to undercover operations and raids of businesses selling synthetic drugs illegally. We could also revisit methamphetamine – one of the original synthetic drugs – more than a decade after the scourge first hit. As discussed, Carl Quintanilla produced a story on meth in New Jersey. Carl can do a ten-year retrospective on meth.