BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital has banned a new deadly synthetic drug that has hit the streets of Baton Rouge.
"The chemical makeup of 25i is highly potent, very toxic and any dose can be dangerous to health," said DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein.
That dangerous chemical makeup is what made it easy for state officials to decide to ban 25-i also known as 'Smiles' or 'N-Bomb'. The drug 25-I, proper name 2-(4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)-N-[(2-methoxyphenyl)methyl]ethanamine (25I NBOMe) -- has been added to the list of Schedule I drugs.
"Effective immediately the possession, manufacturing or distribution of this drug will carry penalties similar to that of heroine," said Greenstein."Which could mean up to 30 years in prison."
Chemists at the state police crime lab say the health risks alone should scare people. The drug, which officials think comes into the country in a powdered form, can cause hallucinations, seizures and even death.
"It has such a low dosage amount on the blotter paper that they receive the high that they are looking for. But then when they consume it nasally or orally is when we have the fatalities because it's so concentrated," said Rebecca Nugent, drug section supervisor at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab.
Officials are blaming 25-i for five deaths in the U.S. this year including an Arkansas man, visiting New Orleans during last month's Voodoo Music Festival.
"I think our generation does need to realize that we're not invincible, and we don't really need to try all these different things just to get a high," said LSU student Chelsi Ciccone.
Most students we spoke to at LSU said they've never even heard of the drug, but they are glad to see state officials staying on top of things.
"I think it's hard to be proactive when stuff comes out all the time, but I think they're doing a good job I guess," said LSU student Tesalon Felicien.
So far, Louisiana and Virginia are the only states to have formally banned to the drug.
If you have any questions about this or any illicit drug substance, and especially if someone you know has been exposed to this or any drug, please call the Louisiana Poison Center at 800-222-1222. The clinical and medical toxicologists at the Poison Center can assist.