Spice packaging is bright, and almost whimsical, aimed at the younger generation's interest in "bling" and "eye-candy." Sold in gas stations and convenience stores across Virginia, it is marketed as a "legal alternative to marijuana." It is also cheap, sometimes being sold for only a few dollars per package. And the active drug is, so far, undetectable using standard drug tests.
In the little town of Tappahannock, Virginia, down on the Eastern Shore, law enforcement officials are up to their necks in an on-going investigation into "spice." Police say they are seeing an increase in the use of the popular, but illegal drug.
A raid conducted two months ago on a local tobacco shop netted law enforcement more than 100 bags of spice, and thousands of dollars in cash. Police arrested two people for allegedly selling the drug.
Chief James Ashworth says they have another problem that's reared its ugly head, and that is, people are smoking herbal incense/potpourri products. Compounding the problem is the number of overdoses being seen. In the past week, two men were rushed to hospital emergency rooms, unconscious and barely breathing.
“Both had used some type of potpourri or herbal incense and were medically checked out in the ER, so it’s a problem. We’re also getting calls from concerned parents and citizens about this ” Ashworth explained.
The labeling on Spice claims that the product contains natural psychoactive material taken from plants and that is why it is considered a safe alternative. While there is some truth to the claim of "natural" products, it is the man-made chemicals added to the product that are dangerous.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says the addition of the chemicals make spice over 200 times more powerful than the effects one would get from smoking pot. The cheap high is what is frightening about the drug. Medical personnel are saying the after-affects of an overdose are devastating to the body and the mind.
A new report, issued in September, 2013, shed some light on the actual number of overdoses caused by the use of synthet9c marijuana, or "spice," Nationally, about 22,904 emergency room visits were linked to spice, or “bath salts,” a synthetic drug, in 2011.
The real danger, medical doctors are discovering is that the use of this drug can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures, addiction, suicidal thoughts, psychosis, and death. The outcome is far too often the reality, and it is scary.