Synthetic Drugs

Gov. Pence proclaims Feb. 26 Participant Recognition Day for National Drug Facts Week

45 Indiana schools participate with Sam’s Watch to get drug facts to Hoosier students  

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Governor Mike Pence issued a proclamation announcing Feb. 26 as Participant Recognition Day for National Drug Facts Week. The proclamation also recognizes the efforts to increase Indiana participation by local nonprofit Sam's Watch formed in 2014 in memory of 16-year-old Sam Motsay who was killed by a little-known synthetic drug.  

Sam’s Watch collaborated with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, to encourage Indiana schools to participate in National Drug Facts Week which took place Monday, Jan. 26 through Sunday, Feb. 1. All-told, nearly 34,000 Hoosier students were provided access to science-based information about drugs and their effects.  Connersville High School was awarded the $1,000 donation by Sam’s Watch for their participation.  Students from Carroll Sr. High School and Greencastle High School won mini-iPads for their blog/video contest entries to “Shatter the Myths” on drug use and addiction. 

The forty-five Indiana schools that participated via Sam’s Watch were:  

North Region- School City of Hobart/Ridge View Elementary, Hanover Central High School (Cedar Lake), Northfield Jr./Sr. High School (Wabash), North Side High School (Fort Wayne), Carroll Jr/Sr High School (Flora), Joan Martin Elementary School (Hobart), Career Academy South Bend, Liberty Elementary School (Hobart), Hobart High School, Hobart Middle School; 

Central Region- Wapahani RADD (Selma), North Central High School (Farmersburg), Holy Spirit Catholic School (Indy), St. Michael-St. Gabriel Archangel Elementary School (Indy), Hamilton Heights High School (Arcadia), St. Michael School (Brookville), Liberty-Perry Community Schools (Selma), Holy Cross Lutheran School (Indy), The Excel Center-Anderson, Warren Central Just Say No (Indy), Saint Lawrence Catholic School (Indy), Greencastle High School, Meadows Elementary (Terre Haute), Sugar Grove Elementary (Terre Haute), Anderson Preparatory Academy and Pre-Academy, Franklin Middle School, Westwood Elementary (Greenwood), Center Grove High School (Greenwood), Center Grove Middle School North (Greenwood), Center Grove Middle School Central (Greenwood), Decatur Central High School SADD Club (Indy), Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School (Indy), Whiteland Community High School, Southside Christian Academy (Indy), Connersville High School; 

South Region- Scottsburg Middle School, New Washington Middle/High School, Choice For Change/Washington High School, South Ripley School Corporation (Versailles), West Washington Jr./Sr. High School (Campbellsburg), Jasper Middle School ROOS group, Mitchell High School, Mitchell Junior High School, Dexter Elementary School (Evansville), New Tech Institute (Evansville).

For the full proclamation, go to

High school revamps drug policy, by Tom Lange, Daily Journal

Nearly a dozen Franklin Community High School students were caught with synthetic marijuana at school last year, and one of the key reasons they chose the drug was because the school didn’t test for it.

School officials knew their drug screening policy wasn’t working well enough.

So the school district applied for a $4,500 grant. That money will let Franklin schools test up to 20 students per month, and the high school also can make synthetic drugs part of those screenings.

“Our whole main objective is to give students a reason to say ‘no,’” assistant principal Scott Martin said.

In August and September, Franklin school officials caught 11 students who had synthetic marijuana, known as Spice, or paraphernalia with them at school. This was a first for the high school.

Usually when teachers and principals found drugs, it was marijuana or pills but not synthetic drugs, Martin said.

Students told officials they picked that drug because there was a better chance they wouldn’t get caught, since the school’s random drug screenings wouldn’t catch synthetic drugs. They also didn’t think they’d be selected for random drug testing. Out of 600 to 800 students subject to random drug testing, nine were selected each month, Martin said.

Students at most Johnson County school districts have to agree to random drug testing if they drive to school, are athletes or are part of other extracurricular activities. Students also can be drug tested if school officials have reason to believe they’re under the influence.

Drug testing and screening policies vary by school district. Greenwood schools, for example, prohibit the use of synthetic drugs but don’t currently test for those substances, Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.

A big reason: cost.

A standard drug test, which screens for substances such as marijuana, cocaine and opiates, costs $15 to $25. Screenings that test for Spice and other synthetic drugs cost at least $100, Martin said.

With the Drug Free Johnson County grant, along with money from student parking permits that already was used to pay for testing, Franklin can start testing up to 20 students per month and include synthetic drugs in those tests.

The hope is that if more students are drug tested and if they know they can be tested for synthetic drugs, fewer people will use them, Martin said.

Franklin has slowly started increasing the number of students randomly drug tested, testing nine students one month and 20 students another month, and soon school officials will start testing 20 students every month. The high school sends identification numbers for students to a lab, which then randomly selects which students will be tested. But not every student will be tested for Spice. Of the 20 students selected for a random drug test, two would also be selected for synthetic drug screenings, Martin said.

If students test positive, they can lose their driving or extracurricular privileges but still attend school. Students can earn privileges back if they complete drug assessment programs, which can last from a few months to a year, and pass additional drug tests, Martin said.

But if students are caught using drugs or are high at school, they can be expelled. The students later might be allowed to enroll in the high school’s online Franklin Academy, depending on the circumstances of what happened, Martin said.

School officials know they still can’t catch every synthetic drug, largely because of how often those drugs are being created and updated. Last May, Center Grove High School student Samuel Motsay died after taking a synthetic hallucinogen known as N-Bomb, and police had to send samples of the drug to a lab to verify what it was because they’d not seen it before.

Schools work to learn about the new drugs and then warn parents and students about their potential consequences as quickly as possible, Martin said.

“It’s tough to stay ahead of anything anymore,” he said. “People that put drugs out there, they’re trying to do anything to get people hooked. I’m not sure if we can ever stay ahead of them, it’s more about learning and trying to educate ourselves.”


Here are the details of the Drug Free Johnson County grant Franklin schools received to pay for additional drug testing, and what it means for students:

$4,500 Grant amount

600-800 Typical number of Franklin students subject to random drug testing

9 Previous number of students randomly drug tested per month

20 New number of students randomly drug tested per month

$15-$25 Cost of a drug test that screens for traditional drugs

$100-$150 Cost of a drug test that includes synthetic drugs

Mom works to toughen penalties for synthetic drug dealers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s been almost a year since a Greenwood mother lost her son after officials say he took a new and dangerous synthetic drug, known as 25i-NBOMe.

16-year-old Sam Motsay was an athlete and an honor student, with big dreams and a bright future. He died on Mother’s Day 2014 after taking NBOMe.

At the time of Sam’s death, even police here weren’t familiar with synthetic drugs. His family started a non-profit called Sam’s Watch, in the months after his death.

Sam’s family is now working to educate both parents and students about the dangers of synthetic drugs. Jeanine Motsay, Sam’s mother, says she’s also now working with state lawmakers to get these drugs out of our community.

Motsay says she’s working with Senator Jim Merritt to help get Senate Bill 278 passed. The bill would make the penalties for selling a synthetic drug the same as the penalties would be for whatever drug it mimics, like LSD.

“Sam was your typical kid, but for us, he was our son. We miss him every day,” said Motsay. “We’re hoping his death can be life giving to someone else.”

Motsay says Sam and his friends didn’t know what they were getting, and the information shared between peers wasn’t accurate.

“I want parents to know what I would have wanted to know before this happened to Sam. I want students to know because Sam was a smart kid and I think with the right information, he could have made a better decision.”

Motsay says tougher penalties for those who deal such drugs are imperative.

“It’s important to me that we cover all the bases, and we make the penalties stiffer, so we can dissuade those dealers and distributors from making that drug and targeting our teens.”

Motsay spoke at numerous schools last week as a part of the National Drug Facts Week, reaching thousands of Hoosier students to share her message.

She says they’ve also prepared a PSA they’re going to release to media outlets and schools.

Her efforts come as an appeals court just declared the state’s ban on synthetic drugs unconstitutional, the judge saying the law is too vague for citizens to understand. The state has 30 days to appeal.

“If you look at what happened to my son, I don’t think there’s anything vague about it. They were sold something that was to resemble LSD or acid, it was a research chemical, a synthetic drug called 25i NBOMe, and it actually resulted in my son’s death. I don’t think there’s anything vague about that,” said Motsay.

“It helps to know we may be saving someone else,” said Motsay.

For more information on the non-profit Sam’s Watch, and also for more information on synthetic drugs click here

Mother's efforts to educate about synthetic drugs gaining ground

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (November 27, 2014) – A central Indiana mother is ramping up her efforts to educate teens and their parents about the dangers of synthetic drugs. Samuel Motsay, 16, died of an N-Bome overdose on Mother’s Day.

His mother’s turned her pain into passion to prevent more deaths.

This Thanksgiving, Jeanine Motsay has a message of strength, though her heart remains broken.

“We really are thankful. We don’t want to be in this situation, but we really are thankful we’ve made it to this part,” she said, “I’m thankful for my faith, and I still have hope for the future.”

It’s been six months since her 16-year-old son, honor student, and athlete Sam died of a drug overdose. N-bome is a synthetic substance the teen had taken with friends, a substance the Drug Enforcement Administration calls a hazard to public safety.

“I think about Sam. Sam was a smart kid. With information, he would never have made the decision he made, is my hope,” Motsay said.

Passing information along is what got Jeanine going. She started telling her story, reaching out to teens and parents locally after Sam’s death.

But she didn’t stop there.

Sam’s Watch is a nonprofit organization, built on awareness, with a website laying out information about designer drugs and emerging trends.

“Every time I take a step forward as it relates to Sam’s Watch, I think about what I would have wanted to do,” said Motsay.

And in the new year, Jeanine wants to get into Indiana schools even more. Sam’s Watch will be working with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of a program in late January, to hand out facts about drugs to teens.

“This is just a launching point for something that could become a drug facts network, so we could be convening on a regional basis, about what’s happening in different areas of the state,” Motsay said.

Signs of Sam are everywhere in his mother’s office. And though the year’s been tough, she said courage keeps her and her family moving forward, along with their love for Sam.

“We’re going to make it,” she said.

Schools can contact Sam’s Watch directly by email at or by phone, 888-575-1015.

You can also like the Sam’s Watch page on Facebook here or follow the organization on Twitter here.

Indianapolis organization teams with National Institute on Drug Abuse to boost National Drug Facts Week participation in Indiana schools

INDIANAPOLIS — Sam's Watch is collaborating with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, to encourage Indiana middle and high schools to participate in National Drug Facts Week

Sam’s Watch is a nonprofit organization started this year after 16-year-old academic honors athlete Sam Motsay died from using a little-known synthetic drug. Sam’s Watch provides Saving Alert Messages on the evolving drug dangers threatening young people.

“National Drug Facts Week provides an opportunity for young people to get science-based information about drugs and their effect on the body,” said Jeanine Motsay, Sam’s mother and president of Sam’s Watch. “But that can happen only if schools participate. I urge students and parents to encourage their school leaders to participate in National Drug Facts Week. It will save lives.”

The health observance takes place Monday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, Feb. 1. Schools working with Sam’s Watch will receive assistance in registration, a student contest with awards,  poster campaigns, assemblies and parent meetings as well as communications and education.  Sam’s Watch will select a participating school to receive a monetary award to support further drug prevention and awareness efforts. 

National Drug Facts Week provides evidence-based facts and information by bringing together teens and scientific experts to shatter persistent myths about drug use and addiction. National Drug Facts Week is supported by many federal agencies, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at NIH; the Office of Safe and Healthy Students in the U.S. Department of Education; the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the U.S. Department of Justice; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (HUD). 

Today’s announcement will be followed by Sam’s Watch outreach to schools across the state.  Any school seeking Sam’s Watch assistance to participate in National Drug Facts Week can contact the organization directly by email,, or phone, 888-575-1015.

Mother Shares Story Of Synthetic Drug That Killed Son

NBOMe Synthetic Drug Kills Teen

By Jane Sugiyama. CREATED Nov 12, 2014

On Mother's Day, May 11, 2014, the Motsay family lost a loved one.

Sam Motsay, an honor student and avid athlete, had big plans for the future. However, he became victim to a little-known synthetic drug called NBOMe. This drug is targeted at teens as a substitute for LSD and can be as lethal as poison with just one use.

"Sam was not involved with alcohol or gateway drugs. He was very health conscious because he was an athlete. He was always very alert about what he was doing and putting into his body," said Sam's mother, Jeanine Motsay.

Due to the nature of the drug, NBOMe works its way out of the human body much faster than other gateway drugs, putting the user at a higher risk. This makes the drug very alluring to athletes as they are often subject to random drug tests.

"The drug is literally taking poison because you don't know what exactly it is made up of since the compounds it contains are man-made and random, and haphazardly put together. To make it look like it is not dangerous, the drug is packaged to look like candy as the wrapping features pictures of clowns and primary colors." 

The drug that killed Sam was not made illegal until November 15, 2013. Prior to making NBOMe illegal, users were able to order the drug online.

"When we found out about NBOMe, we realized that in the week's following Sam's death there was not a lot of centralized knowledge about the drug. We wanted parents to have a place to go to learn more so they can have a conversation with their children about the dangers of synthetic drugs, particularly this one."

Leaving behind his parents and brother, Sam's family is seeking to educate the public about NBOMe through a website called SAMs Watch. SAMs Watch offers information about the dangers that young people, parents and schools readily need regarding this synthetic drug.

"It's not you, it's what you don't know."

Get more information about NBOMe by visiting or by visiting SAMs Watch Facebook and Twitter.

Indiana Mother Speaks about the Dangers of Synthetic Drugs

An Indiana mother shares her tragic story of losing her son to synthetic drugs. It's a story she hopes will prevent other teens from making the same fatal decision.

"His sport was basketball he loved all sports for basketball was the one that he play played and gravitated to for many years. He also was funny, he was engaging," said Jeanine Motsay as she described her 16 year-old son Sam - who was an athlete and honor student with big plans for the future. "He had a GPA of 4.0 and on any given day you could ask him what his GPA was and he could say 4.09 or 4.12. He knew right down to the number what it was and so he was really focused on where he was going and what he was doing in his life," said Motsay.

On mothers day 2014, Sam consumed a lethal dose of the synthetic drug NBOMe. As a substitute for LSD, the drug NBOMe can be fatal in just one use depending on how it's packaged and distributed by dealers.

In the weeks following Sam's death, Jeanine began researching synthetic drugs and realized that information is limited for families, schools and teens.

In 2012, president Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse and Prevention Act. The law places 26 types of synthetic drugs into schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

"What happens is just as soon as one of these is identified and put as a schedule I, they turn around and change it by a molecule to become something else so that it can be legal. In fact, the drug that killed Sam this time last year was legal," said Motsay.

Jeanine created a website called where parents can access more information about synthetic drugs.