Synthetic Marijuana a Challenge for Health Officials and Law Enforcement

- Synthetic marijuana is causing problems for law enforcement and treatment hospitals across the country.

“It's getting more and more common. It really is and that's the sad and scary thing around here,” says Peggy Huey, Chief Nursing Officer, Red River Hospital.

And authorities don't see the issue disappearing any time soon because the substance is so hard to regulate.

“Every time they come out and regulate a certain drug the people who make this will change one little thing in the ingredients to get it past, it's just a nightmare really,” says Sergeant John Spragins with the WFPD.

Regulation is a lengthy process and Wichita Falls Police Sergeant John Spragins says even when that finally happens, the formula used by the manufacturer changes just enough to skirt the law.

In Texas, 150 types of synthetic marijuana have been banned but Spragins says there are over 500 other types that are unregulated.

And while you may think it is a legal alternative to marijuana health officials say it can have dangerous side effects, like tachycardia,  seizures, it can cause nausea, vomiting.

Huey says there have also been many cases of users having strokes or other types of brain damage, even death.

She says if the side effects aren't bad enough it's also considered a gateway drug that could lead to harder drug use later on.

“It's a psychological addition, it's not so much a physical withdrawal,” says Huey.

Since it's considered a gateway drug, Huey wants parents to pay attention to their kids' language. She says if they use the terms k2, spice or herbal incense, they may be using synthetic marijuana.


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