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Lab creation becomes street drug

COLUMBIA, S.C., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Chemical compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana have escaped American research labs and become a new street drug of choice, authorities say.

Chemistry Professor John Huffman of Clemson University created compounds -- called synthetic cannabinoids -- to be used in pharmaceutical research, The (Columbia, S.C.) State reported Sunday. Now so-called fake weed made with the compounds is showing up in South Carolina and legally sold as incense, the newspaper said.

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Huffman is getting calls from police agencies, the media, and even from people asking how to make the artificial marijuana.

"Quite frankly," he says, "it's become sort of a pain."

Hoffman said he never meant his research projects to be smoked but some of his compounds have been made into recreational drugs in Europe and are spreading across the United States, the newspaper said.

Several countries in Europe and Asia have banned the fake marijuana. It's not against U.S. law but some states are moving to outlaw it, the newspaper said.

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