Local Officials Warn Public About Dangers of Synthetic Drugs

By Courtney L. Wilson, Alvernia University journalism student | 0 comments

Local officials are warning the public that the use of synthetic marijuana among young people is on the rise.

The Northeast Community Springboard Coalition hosted a panel discussion for the public on Oct. 30 at Reading Area Community College about the dramatic increase in synthetic marijuana use across the county and the dangers associated with synthetic drugs in general.

The panel was made up of individuals from the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, police, medical professionals, addiction experts and young people.

Experts said one of the reasons why the use of synthetic marijuana has risen so rapidly during the past few years is because it can be found almost anywhere including at gas stations and convenience stores.

It’s a problem that is growing across the country and right here in Berks County.

In the past week, 21 people were treated at Reading Hospital for health problems related to synthetic marijuana use, according to hospital officials.

Synthetic marijuana also known as “K2” or “Spice” first became popular in 2002. It is a mix of herbs, spices, or other leafy materials that are sprayed with a liquid chemical such as, HU-210, and has the same effect as THC, the main chemical in marijuana.

Synthetic marijuana is the second most abused drug in the U.S. by high school seniors, according to research, with marijuana being the first.

About 14 percent of male students and 8 percent of female students have used synthetic marijuana, according to statistics.

When ingested, the drug can cause paranoia, hallucinations, vomiting, muscle spasms, seizures and other serious health issues.

Local officials and members of Project Peace, a group of Reading High School students who promote local initiatives, are now looking at ways to educate students about the dangers of synthetic marijuana through community activities.