Synthetic Cannabis

Police Seeing Increase in Illnesses from Synthetic Marijuana

Press release from the R.U.S.H. Task Force:

Harrisonburg, VA – The R.U.S.H Drug Task Force has recently seen an increase of illnesses as a result of the consumption of synthetic marijuana.

Since Monday, April 13, the Drug Task Force has been notified of five instances where individuals had a serious reaction to various forms of synthetic marijuana, causing them to be hospitalized.

“Anytime there is a pattern such as this it is vital that we notify the community to remind of the dangers of all drugs, particularly synthetic marijuana,” said Mark Campbell, Supervisory Special Agent with the Virginia State Police.

Often suppliers in other countries will alter the chemicals in synthetic drugs before distribution. The chemicals in synthetic marijuana are not always known to the consumer and have the potential to cause a severe health reaction.

The effects that have been seen this week are: shortness of breath; accelerated heart rate; muscle contractions; and seizure-like symptoms.

“People who may be inclined to use synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs should consider that these substances are not produced under the controlled conditions that legitimate pharmaceuticals are, and that users are at the mercy of unknown suppliers who have no regulatory oversight,” said NazirAdam, MD, emergency physician with Sentara RMH Medical Center. “People need to consider the risks involved and avoid these substances altogether.”

Not only does the R.U.S.H Drug Task Force actively investigate the illegal sale and distribution of synthetic drugs, the office also works to educate and prevent individuals from ever consuming this harmful chemical.

Anyone with information about an individual or business selling synthetic drugs should contact the R.U.S.H. Drug Task Force at 540-434-1229 or RDTF@comcast.net.

UPDATE: Police Issue Warning About K2 After SC West Senior Dies.

Sioux City, IA (ABC9 News) -  Sioux City Police are warning people about the possibly fatal side effects of a smokeable synthetic drug known as K2 after a Sioux City West senior died Thursday night.  Austin McCloud, 18, died as a result of smoking K2, according to a family friend who spoke with ABC9 News.  Coming up tonight on ABC9 News at Six Austin's mother, Tammy Summers talks with Jenna Rehnstrom about the tragic events of the last 24 hours.

According to Sioux City Police spokesperson Jeremy McClure, authorities received a call concerning a report of a sick party at War Eagle Park at about 11:06 pm Thursday.  Four people were transported to local hospitals for treatment after some of them reported ingesting a smokeable synthetic drug.  A short time later, McCloud died while being treated.  Police say the exact cause of death will not be known until an autopsy is conducted.  As of Friday afternoon, three other people are being treated at a local hospital and their status is not known.  The ages of the people involved in the matter range from 16-18.

McClure says this is an ongoing investigation and more information will be released as it is available.

Sioux City, IA (ABC9 News) - A West High School senior has died Thursday night, just weeks away from graduating.

Austin McCloud, 18, died Thursday night as a result of smoking synthetic marijuana know as K2, according to a family friend who spoke with ABC9 News.

To help pay for the funeral expenses, friends have started a GoFundMe account.

Alison Benson, Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the Sioux City School District, says the school held a moment of silence this morning in honor of Austin.

Additional counselors have been made available for students to speak with at West High School.
 

Nearly 100 hospitalized with issues linked to synthetic drug

MONTGOMERY, ALA. 

Alabama public health officials say nearly 100 people have been hospitalized for issues linked to synthetic marijuana known as "spice."

The Alabama Department of Public Health said in a statement Wednesday that at least 98 people have been hospitalized in the past month with symptoms linked to spice use.

Spice, also known as K2, is a mixture of herbs and spices that are mixed with chemicals to mimic the effects of marijuana, according to the DEA. Federal officials say users smoke the synthetic drug in joints or pipes and also make it into tea.

Department of Public Health officials say the long-term health impacts of using spice are unclear since the substances aren't used in mainstream medicine.

Officials say rapid heart rate, vomiting and hallucinations are among the symptoms.

Synthetic Drug "Spice" Sends Teens to the Hospital

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - A synthetic drug known as "spice" sent more than 15 teens to the hospital recently. Law enforcement officials are now responding with a warning. 

"This was a very bad weekend and it was certainly a very large problem over the weekend, and we saw numerous cases," said Dr. Neil Roy, vice chairman, emergency department, Meritus Medical Center. 

The patients all experienced overdose symptoms from the drug such as agitation, difficulty breathing, nausea and in two cases, the patients had to be placed on a ventilator. 

"We received numerous reports of individuals that were coming into Meritus Medical Center suffering from overdose symptoms from synthetic marijuana or...spice," said Carly Hose, public information officer, Washington County Sheriff's Office. 

Officials explained that spice is composed of herbs that are sprayed with a chemical compound that mimics the effects of THC - the active ingredient in marijuana. 

“The problem with that is that the substance they're spraying on the leaf can mimic any number of substances like cocaine, methamphetamine - and what's happening is, the responses are terribly unpredictable. People are getting very, very sick," Roy said.

Law enforcement officials said kids are getting spice by either ordering online from places outside the U.S., or hand to hand transactions, similar to how other illegal drugs are purchased. 

“As to why this is - you have with marijuana them thinking, 'well this is a safer route to marijuana because it's man-made, its chemical based,'" Hose added. "You also hear that when it comes down to drug testing, this particular synthetic drug doesn't show up on drug testing where marijuana does."

Law enforcement officials said that spice is very dangerous due to its ingredients that vary from manufacturers and batch-to-batch. They said it's almost impossible to predict the reaction someone's body may have to the drug. 

Investigators are working to locate where this particular brand of spice is coming from in order to prevent the supply from growing and becoming sustainable in the county. 
 

During spring break, police use social media to warn about synthetic marijuana

As more people use social media in their everyday lives, local police departments are reaching out to teens and parents about the dangers of drugs during spring break.

The Rio Grande City Police Department warned teens and others about synthetic marijuana and whip-its with a public service announcement.

Teens and young adults use these drugs more this time of year, Police Chief Noe Castillo said.

"Summer is when kids have more time to do stuff, so we're going to try to get into the schools a little more," said Castillo.

He said the synthetic marijuana packaging can fool parents.

"If somebody sees it in a backpack or something, you’ll think they’re gummy bears or some other type of candy," said Castillo.

Drivers also are using whip-its while on the road, according to Castillo

Castillo said the metal pieces can be found along the road after drivers throw the items out of the vehicles.

To avoid issues with drugs and teens, police encourage parents to ask their children if they have seen anything suspicious at schools or with friends.

He said synthetic marijuana is hard to identify.

"You kind of oversee it because all our busy lives what’s going on in their lives,” said Castillo. “We need to catch it before it gets worse."

The dangers that could follow are seizures and even brain damage.

Castillo said synthetic marijuana is laced with multiple chemicals, and it can take one high to end your life.

"It can change someone's life forever,” said Castillo.

The Rio Grande Police Department ordered around 50 kits to test for the drugs.

Castillo said it is difficult since the ingredients to make the synthetic pot constantly changes.

Westport bans synthetic marijuana

By Jeffrey D. Wagner
Correspondent 

Posted Feb. 22, 2015 at 10:46 PM
Updated Feb 22, 2015 at 10:52 PM 

 

WESTPORT — The town’s Board of Health has recently taken a strong stand against synthetic drugs.
The board approved a ban on synthetic marijuana and similar cannabimemetics earlier this month, according to a written release. The release states that the ban prohibits the use, sale and possession of synthetic drugs.
The health board on Friday referred all questions on the matter to the town’s tobacco coordinator Marilyn Edge.
Edge said she was contacted by the town’s police chief, who was one of many local authorities contacted by the New Bedford City Council through a letter campaign. Edge, who is the coordinator for a dozen local municipalities, said such a ban is not new but New Bedford was under the impression that they were covering new ground through the ban.
Still, she said, the ban in local communities offers an added layer that should stop the sale of these drugs at convenience stores.
“I have not seen any for sale since we passed our ordinance in Fall River,” Edge said of the city. In fact, she said Fall River was the first in the state to adopt a ban.
Edge said the problem has not gone away, however. She said some of the local hospitals have treated patients who had bad reactions to these drugs, but the hospitals will not ascertain where the drugs were purchased. Edge said she would be naive to believe that some of these drugs did not originate in stores.
Edge said mostly cities have adopted this ban, making Westport only the second town in her coverage area to adopt a ban. Edge said North Attleboro was the first to ban these drugs.
Edge said that before the ban, police chiefs would visit local convenience stores and ask the stores not to sell these products. The ban, she said, offers an additional safeguard.
“You are not going to find synthetics sold openly in convenience stores,” she said.
According to various web reports, the powerful hallucinogenic bath salts are among these drugs, as well as marijuana laced with deadly chemicals.

 

Enid police seize 55 bags of synthetic marijuana

ENID, Okla. — Enid Police Department narcotics detectives and officers served a search warrant Thursday at an Enid convenience store, seizing 55 bags of synthetic marijuana.

Officers executed the search warrant at Gas & Go, 713 S. Oakwood.

Narcotics Detective Zeke Frazee said police received several complaints the store was selling synthetic marijuana.

Frazee said when officers and detectives entered the store, they spoke with the store owner, 46-year-old Raed Najib, and advised him the reason for the search.

Frazee said upon conducting their search, detectives located 55 bags of purported synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K-2, Spice or potpourri.

The products produce a marijuana-like, amphetamine-like or LSD-like high, but their adverse effects are powerful. Common side effects include hallucinations, seizures, extreme paranoia, nausea and dangerously accelerated heart rate.

He said that the purported synthetic marijuana was found under the register area in a bag out of the view from public.

“This is common because store owners often know that the synthetic marijuana they are selling is illegal,” Frazee said. "The chemicals in synthetic marijuana are very dangerous and are known to cause accelerated heart rates, seizures, paranoia and organ failure.

“Synthetic drugs are appealing to some who find it easier to evade local and state laws, but people don’t realize what they're ingesting or how much because synthetic drugs are often clandestinely made. People who make and sell these drugs don’t care about what happens to people.”

Synthetic drugs seized

MORE than $110,000 worth of synthetic cannabis was seized from Midland Club X, but police won’t know for another four months whether the products are an illegal strain.

Police seized the drugs during a search on Thursday.

Sergeant Tania Mackenzie said police had received tip-offs from parents whose adult children were using the drug.

She said parents were concerned about the synthetic drug’s health impacts.

Debate still shrouds the issue of synthetic cannabis in WA, as manufacturers exploit legal loopholes by making new, legal strains of the drug.

Sgt Mackenzie said the law needed to cover the whole gamut of products purporting to be synthetic cannabis.

“Each strand that comes up, they make that a prohibited drug so the manufacturers tend to always be one step ahead,” she said.

Police previously seized synthetic cannabis from Midland Club X in November, 2013.

Police said the owner believed he was acting within the law.

The Midland Reporter called Midland Club X but the manager declined to comment.

Do you understand Indiana's spice law?

To know whether a substance is an illegal synthetic drug, a person must wade through dozens of chemical compounds listed in the Indiana statute.

It's confusing for judges — and especially for everyone else.

Last week, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that state law criminalizing the dealing in and possession of synthetic drugs is too vague for the average citizen to understand and, therefore, is unconstitutional.

The current code lists a hodgepodge of about 80 compounds; at least one of those needs to be present in a substance for it to be considered a synthetic drug. The Indiana Board of Pharmacy also is authorized to declare additional substances synthetic drugs, more commonly known as bath salts or spice. That means people must consult a separate statute that lists the additional compounds.

In a 2-1 ruling last week, a Court of Appeals panel decided that's too much to ask for.

"To require a citizen of ordinary intelligence to meticulously search through the criminal code, the administrative code, and not-yet-codified agency rules for information regarding a charge, only to be sent on a 'Where's Waldo' expedition is ludicrous," Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May wrote in an opinion issued Jan. 27.

The ruling involved the case of a young owner of a small smoke shop chain in Indianapolis who was accused of selling "Primo" and other synthetic drugs that produce the psychological effects of illegal narcotics.

Christopher Tiplick was arrested in October 2012 after detectives made undercover purchases of synthetic drugs at three stores he owned, according to court documents. Tiplick, 23, was charged with 18 felonies, including several counts of dealing in a lookalike substance and conspiracy to commit dealing in a lookalike substance.

Tiplick had asked a Marion Superior Court judge to dismiss 11 of the charges, saying a regular member of the public cannot be expected to know what substance is and is not illegal, considering the complexity of the statute. The judge had denied that request. Last week, two of three Court of Appeals judges agreed with Tiplick and reversed the lower court's ruling.

One dissenting judge wondered whether defendants could use the vagueness claim as a cover for criminal activity.

Judge Mark Bailey disagreed with his colleagues' "Where's Waldo" characterization, saying an average person needs to look at only a few statutory provisions and agency rules to determine whether a substance is a synthetic drug.

"It seems to me that Tiplick's void-for-vagueness challenge is more akin to an attempt to claim ignorance of the law as a defense to criminal liability," Bailey wrote. "Not having looked to the laws that apply to one's actions does not excuse an individual from violating those laws."

The ruling in Tiplick's favor also was based on a technicality.

The substance that Tiplick was accused of dealing in and selling contains a compound called XLR11, which was not listed in the statute at the time of his arrest. And, although it had been declared a "synthetic substance" by the pharmacy board, it was not declared a "synthetic drug."

"While that distinction may seem trivial, we believe the technical nature of this particular statute requires precision in language," May wrote. "For example, the Pharmacy Board may declare a new chemical concoction used to treat a deadly disease a 'synthetic substance' and such a declaration would not invoke the criminal consequences as would the Pharmacy Board's declaration of something as a 'synthetic drug.'"

The Court of Appeals made a similar ruling Jan. 27 in another case that raised the same issues.

Ashfaque Aadil was arrested and charged in May 2013 with dealing in and possession of a synthetic drug. An officer found XLR11 in Aadil's car during a traffic stop, according to documents.

As in Tiplick's case, a divided Court of Appeals panel reversed a lower court's ruling that denied Aadil's request to dismiss charges against him.

One of three appellate judges, Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik, disagreed with the ruling.

"I, too, believe that the applicable laws are not so complex or overly broad as to preclude a person of ordinary intelligence from having fair notice of the criminal nature of XLR11 on vagueness grounds," Vaidik wrote.

Indianapolis attorney Mark Rutherford, who represents Tiplick and Aadil and has worked on several cases involving synthetic drugs, said he respects the dissenting judges' concerns, but he thinks the law should be clear and concise.

"You have to jump around all these different code sites and you have to know how to look up decisions by the board of pharmacy," Rutherford said. "It confuses lawyers. It's very difficult for the average citizen to determine whether their actions are illegal or not."

Rutherford said legislators need to reform the statute to make it more understandable for the average citizen.

Capt. Robert Holt, who does undercover investigations with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said he's disappointed with the Court of Appeals' ruling in Tiplick's case. He said the current statute gives law enforcement a broader authority to enforce synthetic drug laws.

"We know if somebody is selling a substance labeled as spice or K2 or something like that," Holt said. "We know that the intent is that this individual will use it to ingest it."

The state has 30 days from when the Court of Appeals issued the rulings to file an appeal.

State issues new ban on synthetic marijuana

NEW ORLEANS -- There's a new form of synthetic marijuana on the streets, and for some who have used it, the consequences have been deadly.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has added several new varieties to the list of banned synthetic drugs, but drug makers are still finding loopholes to get the drugs back on store shelves.

"Basically what they are, are street corner drug dealers that are doing it with a roof over their head" said Assistant District Attorney in Jefferson Parish Doug Freese.

Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals have banned several new synthetic marijuana compounds named Mojo and Blue Diemond.

"I think people are fooled into thinking that it's going to have all of the same effects as a marijuana cigarette," said Dr. Peter Winsauer with the LSU Health Sciences Center.

Winsauer went on to explain that the designer drugs have been linked to several recent deaths and numerous hospitalizations in Louisiana hospitals.

"They take it and suddenly their heart is racing, they feel very anxious, they're agitated, they act out, they do something bizarre. Then they end up in the emergency room," Winsauer said.

That often comes with suicidal thoughts.

The ban comes after DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert consulted with Louisiana poison control. According to poison control, they have received more than 17,000 calls related to synthetic marijuana.

Law enforcement and health officials say one of the biggest misconceptions is that just because it's sold in a store on a shelf, it doesn't make it safe or legal.

"You had school students doing it, folks who work regular jobs coming in thinking they were buying something that would give them a high and that they're not breaking the law," Freese said.

Freese said they had 98 stores in 2012 that sold versions of the synthetic drugs. After years of targeted crackdowns, they have zero.

"If it's something that mimics marijuana, it's as illegal as marijuana. If it's something that mimics LSD, it's just as illegal as LSD," Freese said.

But every time the government bans one substance, drug makers tweak and change their formulas, finding loopholes to get the drugs back on shelves.

"They don't know what they're making, and it can be attached with all kinds of impurities, and once those impurities get into the brain, the brains going to respond to it in a negative way," Winsauer said.

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office earns federal award for major drug investigation

Undercover detectives who investigated a major drug trafficking organization earned the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office the Outstanding Law Enforcement Agency Award for 2014.

The award was presented by the federal Department of Justice’s Eastern District for detectives’ work on case “Operation Sugar and Spice.” Two of these agency awards are given annually — split between the district’s Fresno and Sacramento divisions — for agencies that work across jurisdictional lines to tackle serious criminal threats.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner presented Sheriff Margaret Mims with the department’s award Wednesday afternoon during a news conference at the sheriff’s office headquarters in downtown Fresno.

For a year and a half, sheriff detectives investigated Victor Anthony Nottoli and his company, Zenbio — which runs the Stuffed Pipe smoke shops in Fresno. Officials said Zenbio is a major synthetic drug trafficking organization responsible for producing and distributing at least 24 tons of harmful controlled substances worth more than $25 million — marketed as smokable synthetic cannabinoids — to 47 states.

“Synthetic drugs are chemically produced in laboratories and are intended to mimic the effect of other illegal drugs,” Wagner said. “Synthetic cannabinoids are often much more dangerous and powerful than the cannabinoids that they supposedly mimic.”

Wagner said the use of these dangerous drugs — often falsely labeled as potpourri or incense — is spreading and there have been numerous reports the drugs have caused serious injury and death.

Mims echoed the warning, saying the synthetic drugs — marijuana or herbs soaked or sprayed with untested, unknown chemicals produced by “underground chemists” — are becoming increasingly popular among young people.

“They think it’s safer than smoking pot, and even legal, because you can buy it at gas stations, convenience stores, head shops and online,” Mims said. “Parents need to be alert to the potential tragic results of ‘spice.’ ”

After sheriff detectives made undercover purchases from Nottoli’s Fresno smoke shops, 41 federal search warrants were ordered. Officers said they seized more than 50 kilograms of pure controlled substances and more than $6 million from drug trafficking.

The search also led to the prosecution of five people — including a guilty plea from Nottoli, who agreed to forfeit more than $6 million. The other four arrested are awaiting trial in Fresno’s U.S. District Court. Additionally, six co-conspirators were found guilty in Alabama and New York, and one in Arizona is expected to plead guilty next week.

Now-retired detective John Avila with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office brought the case to the attention of federal authorities in November 2012 after he intercepted a package containing 12 kilograms of pure XLR11, a synthetic drug considered 167 times more powerful than marijuana.

Officials said the package was addressed to a manager of the Stuffed Pipe, Natalie Middleton — a Clovis woman now awaiting trial — and was sent from the target of a Zenbio investigation in Alabama. What ensued was the intense joint investigation by the sheriff’s office, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service and Homeland Security Investigations.

Contact Carmen George: cgeorge@fresnobee.com, (559) 441-6386 or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.


Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2015/01/28/4353073_fresno-county-sheriffs-office.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

A fool's drug

Synthetic marijuana, sometimes called "kush" may be sold in packages with brand names such as Scuby Snax, Kush Grape, Angry Birds, LOL and Breaking Bad, but whatever the name, it's causing a world of hurt.

Often, users who try these dangerous products are looking for alternatives to marijuana. They can get more than they bargain for. "This stuff is so bad. It is not anything like marijuana," Dr. Spencer Greene, a Ben Taub and Texas Children's Hospital emergency room physician told Chronicle reporter Dane Schiller ("Fake pot ODs are raising alarms," Page A1, Jan. 18). The symptoms might be a pleasant buzz or chest pains. Some users "are tearing their clothes off, screaming obscenities, biting themselves and attacking people," Dr. Clay Brown, director of adolescent services at Memorial Hermann's Prevention and Recovery Center, told Schiller.

Given that self-preservation is a strong human instinct, one can legitimately ask: Why would anyone buy this stuff? Some smoke shops and convenience stores sell these drugs, which often are marketed to teens and young adults, as potpourri or incense. Some naively believe that if a product is sold at a store then it is legal. Many products even claim on their packaging that they are legal, along with the disclaimer that they are not safe for human consumption. The disclaimer is certainly true.

Despite the viciousness of this drug, usage is growing. Regional emergency rooms are reporting a dramatic increase in the number of patients who have overdosed. While users are experiencing seizures, unconsciousness and even death, unscrupulous manufacturers and dealers are making money off this stuff. The prognosis is not good: Experts say the strains are growing more dangerous.

Prosecutors need tougher and more workable laws on the books to go after the manufacturers and dealers of kush as well as those who possess synthetic drugs. City Council passed a law in October to ban the sale and use of these types of designer drugs, but regardless of whether someone is caught with one packet or a truckload of drugs, people caught with the chemicals can be charged only with misdemeanors.

This session, state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, has introduced two bills needed to change the law so that people caught with larger amounts will face more severe punishment. As proof that the Legislature should view passage of these bills as a top priority, the emergency room at Texas Children's Hospital recently saw what is believed to be its youngest Kush overdose victim. She was unconscious. Her body temperature had plunged. Her pupils didn't respond to light. The 12-year-old girl survived, but law enforcement needs better tools to crack down on these purveyors.

Lethal new psychoactive substance

Jersey's Alcohol and Drug Service say a fatal new drug, currently available in Jersey, is one of the most dangerous synthetic drugs they have seen.

Islanders are being warned against taking a potentially fatal new drug currently available in Jersey.

CHIMINACA has similar effects to cannabis but authorities say it is a hundred times stronger.

It has been linked to several recent deaths in Europe and people being hospitalised in Jersey.

The drug has very severe adverse effects, both physically and mentally, it can cause heart attacks, raises you blood pressure, causes seizures. It also makes people very paranoid and psychotic so it's a very dangerous drug and we advise people to avoid using this drug.

– MICHAEL GAFOOR, DIRECTOR OF THE ALCOHOL AND DRUG SERVICE

A warning is being issued about the potentially fatal 'new psychoactive substance' known as CHMICA or CHMINACA.

Jersey's Alcohol and Drugs Service and the police are worried the drug could be available on the islands' streets.

We are told the drug has similar effects to cannabis but is one hundred times stronger.

It has been linked to deaths in Europe but there are no known deaths in Jersey.

The drug can cause convulsions, raised blood pressure, heart attacks and psychoses.

This is one of the most dangerous synthetic cannabinoids that we have seen in Jersey so far because of the unpredictable and potentially fatal effects it can have.

– MICHAEL GAFOOR, DIRECTOR OF THE ALCOHOL AND DRUG SERVICE

Anyone who has used the drug is advised to seek medical help.

    Woman fights to strengthen state synthetic drug laws in her son’s memory

    CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman said something has got to change with the state’s synthetic drug laws.

    It’s a message she pushing, but it’s one that comes with a broken heart. Gwen Meek said her son’s use of K2 led him to hang himself this past summer.

    Synthetic marijuana, also known as K2, is often sold in legal retail outlets as “herbal incense” or “potpourri,” according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Distributors spray chemicals onto plant material and users get a high from it. It poses a lot of risks, including suicidal thoughts.

    The Meek family only has 35 years of memories of Jerrald, the man they called son and brother. The last few years of his life were very tough.

    “A lot of his problems stem from going to Afghanistan three times in four years,” Gwen Meek said.

    His mother said guilt consumed the Army veteran for surviving combat when others did not. She said he struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    “The third time he came back, his wife said he was not right. He was not right at all. And that’s when he started using K2,” Gwen Meek said.

    Gwen said the K2 increased her son’s depression. After years of using, sometimes several times a day, Jerrald committed suicide. Gwen found him in the family home.

    “I already knew he was gone, He was cold,” Gwen Meek said.

    “As soon as I lost him, I am like ‘I am not going to lose my son for nothing,’” she added.

    The grieving mother started making calls to people like state Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids. She wants a law making it illegal to use and sell all synthetic drugs. Sen. Hogg said that could be difficult, especially when the manufacturers of synthetic drugs often change the formula.

    “Our criminal laws have to be specific. Our criminal laws have to tell people here is what is prohibited, because if it’s too vague the courts are going to say we can’t enforce that anyway,” he said.

    The senator has ideas of how to help. He wants to look at who could be held responsible, examining liability for those who make and distribute the products.

    “Why are they selling it? Because they think they can make money. Well, if they think they are going to lose a lot of money or be in danger of losing a lot of money that might be an effective deterrent on those things that we can’t pinpoint in the criminal laws,” Sen. Hogg said.

    Gwen knows it’s a tough battle, but in her son’s memory she’s ready for the fight.

    “It’s just how we can honor him and help other families too,” Gwen Meek said.

    Iowa’s law currently bans specific formulas and chemicals of synthetic drugs.

    Sen. Hogg said lawmakers continuously update that list as they learn of formulas that manufacturers have altered.

    The senator added that he believes lawmakers can pass something to respond to Gwen’s concerns this legislative session.

    Gwen has also worked with other legislators from the Cedar Rapids area in her effort to create change.

    Synthetic drugs seized after cannabis deaths

    Detectives have searched private residences as well as businesses in Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Toowoomba that were believed to be selling the synthetic drug.

    Packet of synthetic cannabis. Source: 7News

    Detective Acting Inspector Darrin Shadlow said one of the individuals who passed away only had one draw of the smoke and never regained consciousness.

    No arrests had been made but shop owners were being spoken to, a police spokesman told AAP.

    The businesses were part of the same franchise.

    Mackay health authorities have warned of a recent increase in the number of hospital patients complaining of adverse effects associated with the synthetics.

    The fatalities prompted police to warn that synthetic drugs, commonly bought over the internet, are covered under drugs misuse legislation.

    Detective Acting Superintendent Darrin Shadlow said, "We're really wanting to get the message out there to the public that this stuff that people are selling is highly dangerous."Having possession of this synthetic cannabis is illegal. It is just as illegal as possessing cannabis. So if you think you're buying a product from a registered store or business it is still illegal. And it is illegal for these people to be selling it.

    "Any compound that intends to mimic a dangerous drug, is deemed to be a dangerous drug."

    Investigations are continuing.

    "We will target any store or any person that is in possession or selling this type of product," he said.

    Family believes synthetic marijuana led to teen’s death

    CARROLLTON, Mo. — A 15-year-old boy named Danny Silva died on Tuesday, and his family says he had smoked a synthetic drug you can buy at some convenience stores.

    The synthetic drug has several names: synthetic marijuana, K-2, fake bake, etc. But no matter what you call it, it’s a combination of dangerous chemicals poured on leaves or even on tea bags and smoked to get a high. While marijuana is detected in a urine test, this fake stuff is not, which is why Danny’s family thinks he chose to smoke it instead of the real stuff

    He was a ninth grader at Carrollton High School and a popular athlete. His mother says he had everything going for him until he died of cardiac arrest after smoking synthetic marijuana.

    “We prayed and prayed and prayed, what seemed like forever before they come out to tell us they couldn’t save him,” Amy Silva said.

    Danny’s grandmother, Mary, said after getting a call that he needed help, she found her grandson at a neighbor’s house, sitting on the couch with his eyes partially open, lips blue, not breathing.

    “My daughter and I shook him and shook him, and hitting him on his chest and trying to get him to wake up because I truly believed he was taking his last breaths,” Mary said.

    This family is very familiar with the dangers of these types of drugs, but never thought it would be Danny who would end up dead of an overdose.

    “I kind-of feel responsible,” said his brother, Kevin Mabry.

    Mabry says he is an addict, and used to manufacture synthetic drugs, although he says he never smoked with his younger brother and it was not his stuff Danny smoked the day he died.

    “At the same time I have the feeling if I had never brought it around then he wouldn’t even know about it, or have a temptation in the world to do it,” Mabry said.

    Mabry says he is done with drugs, both doing them and making them, and is speaking out so the same thing doesn’t happen to another promising teenager.

    “Don’t smoke it, it’s not even worth it man,” he said. “The whole time I’ve ever smoked fake bake, like I said, God was going to kill me. He was going to punish me for my sins and what I was going to do, you know?”

    Police say the laws are behind and they pretty much chase these synthetic drugs. When one chemical composition is outlawed, those who manufacture it just change the ingredients so it is no longer illegal.

    The Crusade Against K2

    LINCOLN, Neb. -- Every year Nebraska lawmakers pass bills banning chemicals in synthetic drugs like K2, but manufacturers are still finding ways to go around the rules. As a result, the drug remains deadly and present in our communities.

    Kali Smith of Bellevue said she lost her 18-year-old son to K2 in 2012. Since then, she's made it her mission to educate people about K2's dangerous effects and is even working with lawmakers to heighten the punishment when it comes to the synthetic drug.

    "[Tyler] was my best friend, he was an all-American guy," Smith said. "Beautiful smile, he had the personality and smile that would just draw you to him. He was funny."

    When Kali Smith thinks about her son she remembers the qualities that made him special, but she isn't quick to forget the drug she said made him take his own life in September 2012.

    "I was crying and I was begging Tyler, I grabbed him by the arm and I was shaking him and I was just begging him, 'Tyler talk to me, talk to me Tyler,' and he could not speak and so my husband and I ran upstairs to get our keys, we we're going to take Tyler to the emergency, when Tyler took his own life," Smith said.

    Tyler shot himself, and police later found two packets of cherry flavored incense and a pipe among his belongings. Smith and her husband were left with many unanswered questions.

    "What is this?" Smith asked authorities. "When they told me what it was I said 'I need to know what it is and so does everybody else, because if it could happen to my home and my child, it could happen to anybody.'"

    A day after Tyler's passing, Smith decided to start the T.J.S. Purple Project in honor of her son. She travels across the state to spread awareness of K2 and its effects. Her efforts don't stop there, though, as she also works closely with lawmakers to put a stop to the deadly drug.

    In 2013, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 298 in honor of Tyler, which outlawed chemicals used to make K2. While Tyler's law and others are in place, manufacturers still find a way to curtail those rules, allowing the products to be sold in stores.

    "It's a significant problem," Attorney General Jon Bruning said. "I mean in my 12 years as Attorney General, we've had meth amphetamine certainly, we've had cocaine, we've had a number of issues with drugs, but K2 is particularly insidious because kids think it's safe. They think it's marijuana that they're just going to be a very mellow high when they use it. The problem is that's not the case."

    Smith is now calling on lawmakers to propose new bills in 2015, including one that would raise the punishment for possession to a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Another aims to raise the age when a person can legally buy paraphernalia, like a pipe, from 18 to 21.

    "People need to understand the danger of it. Part of this is an education campaign," Bruning said. "We can't do everything through law enforcement by making it illegal and putting people in jail, there needs to be an education component to this as well where young people and parents understand the dangers of K2."

    And that's exactly what Kali Smith is determined to do.

    "I feel like Tyler is the one driving this force to just make our community a better place for our kids to grow up in," Smith said.

    Bruning said the new bills regarding K2 should be presented in January, as the Legislature returns next Wednesday. He also said the new Attorney General elect, Doug Peterson, is interested in public safety and will also want to work on issues like K2.

     

     

    Family issues warning after teen suffers severe brain damage from synthetic marijuana

    HOUSTON -- On December 7th Emily Bauer began to slur her speech, stumble, complain of massive migraine headaches and began to turn violent, psychotic, and too difficult for her frightened family to control.

    Her family called for an ambulance to take her to the nearest hospital. But within 24 hours she was being life-flighted from a Cypress-area hospital to the Texas Medical Center, the victim of a massive series of strokes.

    She suffered severe brain damage. She was only 16 years old. And the culprit was synthetic marijuana.

    She actually had swelling on her brain that they had to drill into her head to relieve the pressure, said her father Tommy Bryant. They didn t even know if she d make it through that procedure. But they had to do it.

    Emily has turned 17 since she has been hospitalized at Children s Memorial Hermann. But doctors warned her family it could be her last birthday. Doctors discovered that Emily s brain damage was extensive. She was disconnected from life support. Plans were being made to donate her organs if she died. A month later Emily is still alive but she can t walk, she can t feed herself, and she is blind. Recently she began to recognize her parents and is able to have limited conversations. But Bryant and his wife have been given no assurances how much of their daughter will ever come back.

    It s hard, Bryant told us of the now month-long ordeal. It literally, the way we re looking at it now, is we re gonna re-raise a child. I don t wish this upon anybody, anybody at all, he said.

    Bryant has since discovered that his daughter and her friends were experimenting with synthetic marijuana brands like Kush and Spice that the teens purchased over the counter at a convenience store near her home. Multiple injuries and deaths across the United States have been linked to the products sold as incense or potpourri in small packets and marked with the disclaimer not for human consumption. Lawmakers and municipalities have been struggling for years to outlaw the products and their ingredients.

    Some of the chemicals that we re reading online that are in these things, I mean I wouldn t put on my grass, said Bryant.

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse says about 11 percent of high school seniors reported using synthetic marijuana, according to a 2011 survey. And calls about synthetic marijuana to the American Association of Poison Control Centers more than doubled between 2010 and 2011.

    Bryant and his family, with their daughter still in the hospital and hoping she can be transferred soon to a physical rehabilitation facility, have started their own Facebook page dedicated to Emily s story and the dangers of synthetic marijuana. It s called S.A.F.E. Synthetics Awareness for Emily.

    If we reach one more kid, a family that doesn t have to go through this, that doesn t have to spend hours upon hours, nights upon nights in a hospital not knowing what their kid is going to get back, then I feel like we ve accomplished one small thing, he said.

    Emily s family and friends will also hold a fundraiser and benefit for Emily Saturday January 19th at Mezzanine Lounge, 2200 Southwest Freeway in Houston to help pay for her rising medical expenses.

    Convenience store clerk charge with selling synthetic marijuana

    COVINGTON — A convenience store employee was arrested Friday after detectives with the Covington Police Department learned he had been selling synthetic marijuana from the store for several months.

    Capt. Philip Bradford said the detectives learned that a man known as “Mike” was selling synthetic marijuana at the Chevron gas station on Alcovy Road.

    “We used a confidential source to make purchases of that synthetic marijuana,” Bradford said, adding that purchasers of the drugs referred to it as “Scooby snacks.”

    Bradford said the investigation took about two or three months, in part because the alleged drugs had to be sent to the GBI Crime Lab for testing.

    Once the test results returned showing that the synthetic marijuana did in fact contain methanone, a Schedule I narcotic, police obtained arrest warrants for the previous sales and search warrants for the person then known as “Mike,” the store located at 10176 Alcovy Road and “Mike’s” vehicle.

    Bradford said detectives learned that the suspect kept the synthetic marijuana under the counter in the store, behind a locked door. Sometime around 9 p.m. Friday, a police officer entered the convenience store and walked over to the area by the coolers. The officer told “Mike” — later identified as 46-year-old Mahemood Budhani of 121 N. Decatur Lane in Decatur — that something was leaking in order to get him to come out from behind the locked glass-in area.

    Officers charged Budhani in connection with the previous sales and began searching the area where the synthetic marijuana was believed to be stashed.

    “We found a substantial amount of various packages of synthetic marijuana. It was professionally packaged with different kinds of labels,” Bradford said. “We also found a substantial amount of money on his person in which some of our buy money was co-mingled.”

    Budhani was charged with three counts of sale of synthetic marijuana and one count of possession with intent to distribute synthetic marijuana.

    Bradford said detectives do not believe that the store manager was aware this activity was happening in the store.

    Synthetic marijuana, which has been banned in the U.S. since 2012, is considered a designer drug in which herbs, incense or other leafy materials are sprayed with chemicals to mimic the effect of naturally grown marijuana, according to the website Drugs.com. It is commonly known as K2, Spice or Black Mamba. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has designated many active chemicals most frequently found in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them.

    While many users believe synthetic marijuana is safer, reports and case studies have shown that the side effects of the drug are actually more dangerous than natural marijuana.

    Former Hendricks County deputies arrested in connection with Spice ring

    BOONE COUNTY (Dec. 11, 2014) – Two former Hendricks County deputies have been arrested on charges stemming from one of the nation’s largest Spice busts.

    Jason Woods, 44, and Teresa Woods, 34, were booked into the Boone County Jail around 11:30 a.m. Thursday. They were both charged with two counts of possession of a synthetic drug or synthetic drug lookalike.

    The arrests stem from their possible involvement in a synthetic drug manufacturing ring in Hancock County last year, investigators said. Indiana State Police called it the largest operation in state history and one of the largest in the nation.

    “Some 300 plus odd pounds of finished product and some additional amount of unfinished product. The Woods’ name came up in the course of that investigation,” said Captain David Bursten, Spokesperson for Indiana State Police.

    According to Indiana State Police, investigators learned about a safe belonging to the couple. After obtaining a search warrant, detectives found $80,000 in cash and more than 100 grams of synthetic drugs. They were then arrested at the Indianapolis office of Homeland Security Investigations on charges of possession of a synthetic drug.

    “We were able to get a search warrant. From that, we found inside over 100 grams of synthetic drugs and we also found $80,000 in cash,” said Bursten.

    Both were then taken to the Boone County Jail for further processing because that’s where the safe was located. At this time, authorities have not indicated whether Jason or Teresa Woods will face additional charges due to the 2013 case.

    The husband and wife were suspended and then fired for criminal wrongdoing back in March. It was a result of thousands of missing money that the Woods said they were holding for a friend. The Woods were accused of not following the department’s policy as well as not reporting a crime they knew about.

    FOX59 spoke with the Woods’ attorney this afternoon. He did not comment about today’s charges, but said he may make a comment in the future.

    According to Indiana State Police, further investigation could potentially lead to additional charges for the Woods.