Spice Drug Epidemic Continues to Spread Nationwide
Author: Shernide Delva
By now, most of us know when we say the word “spice,” we are not referring to black pepper. We are referring to synthetic marijuana, a product that soared in popularity a few years ago and is leading into severe health consequences for those who use it. This past weekend, ten people on Los Angeles’ Skid Row were hospitalized for drug overdoses linked to Spice.
Spice has become very popular among the area’s homeless population. It is known as Spice of K2. The drug is being sold tent to tent in these communities. The drug has been known to cause hallucinations and drive people completely out of their minds. For those struggling with mental illness, the ingestion of spice can make symptoms even worse.
Skid Row, along with other areas of downtown LA, has seen a sharp increase in cram last year. The county has also seen an increase in the number of homeless people. In spite of these overdoses, the article states that spice continues to be a popular commodity in these areas being openly sold on the street day after death.
In the first month of 2015, spice accounted for 15 overdose deaths.
“It’s five times stronger than marijuana, and can cause two common signs of overdosing depending on the chemical components,” LAPD Officer Deon Joseph told the LA Times. “One is the appearance of paralysis or someone being in a catatonic state for hours. Or causing them to hallucinate and go berserk for long trips. It’s common to buy it on skid row for anywhere from one to two dollars for one joint. And that one hit is pretty powerful.”
Spice is becoming a major problem. The biggest problem with spice is that the drug is constantly changing. It cannot be drug tested either, making the struggle to contain the substance challenging for authorities.
Last year, there were nearly 8,000 synthetic marijuana poisonings across the United States. Law enforcement and legislators still cannot get a grasp on the substance. They fail to keep up with the “rogue chemist” who churns out new drugs each day. In the past, we have covered the trend of new psychoactive substances. It explained how new psychoactive substances are being created each day, and laws cannot be created fast enough to keep up with these new creations. Therefore, many of these synthetic drugs end up on the market and can be used legally.
Furthermore, synthetic marijuana has little to do with actual pot. While they do act on the same receptors in the brain, they do so in vastly different ways. Marijuana is a plant while synthetic marijuana is made in a lab. The synthetic version, unlike marijuana, has serious, severe, unpredictable consequences.
- Kidney failure
- Irregular heartbeat
Even though marijuana grows out of the ground, it does have some risks. However, marijuana is much less dangerous than spice in comparison. Synthetic marijuana is hard to drug test because the chemical makeup is continuously altered by an underground chemist to evade the law.
This tactic seems to be working. Everyone from the homeless to soldiers to athletes use these drugs as alternatives to marijuana since these types of people are constantly drug tested.
Dr. Robert Galli, a professor of emergency medicine and toxicology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) elaborates:
“The experimentation on this is with the American public,” he told the Guardian. “It’s not like these are given to animals to see how they respond. These are given to human animals, and they get it on the street.”
Even worse, the chemicals found in Spice seem to be getting more toxic, according to UMMC toxicologists. Last year, they detected far more potent chemical mutations in Spice that led to an increase in hospitalizations.
What once started as an alternative to marijuana sold in Kava shops has now turned into an extremely dangerous high-risk drug. Taking spice simply is not worth the risk of an overdose. It is better to seek treatment instead, so you learn how to manage your life without the use of substances.
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