Health officials fear that a significant rise in emergency room visits may be attributable to more potent variations of spice, a popular and dangerous drug. Last month, in Alabama alone, 462 people visited emergency rooms after consuming spice.
Spice is the street name for a plethora of synthetic substances which mimic marijuana.
According to state poison control centre statistics, 1,000 reports of adverse reactions to the substance were received in the first weeks of April. This number has doubled the January through March total, raising serious concerns.
But it isn’t just ER visits that health officials are concerned about. This synthetic marijuana is linked to an increase in suicide rates. After two Alabama teens committed suicide under the influence of Spice, the community began rallying against the drug. The state immediately declared the active ingredients in Spice “Schedule 1 drugs.”
While a national fatality count isn’t yet available, health officials did announce the death of a Louisiana resident on Wednesday.
“We have never seen this number of individuals placed in emergency rooms based on synthetic cannabinoids,” Alabama Department of Public Health director of health promotion, Dr. Jim McVay said.
Whether the massive increase is connected to a wider use of the marijuana substitute or a particularly dangerous formulation is still to be determined.
Alabama Gov. Roebrt Bentley warns Alabamians to be aware of the dangers that such synthetic drugs entail. Because such compounds are freely sold in tobacco shops and convenience stores, unwary individuals (especially easily-influenced ones, such as children) may be at a high risk.
Authorities are asking store owners to remove such products from their shelves and law enforcement has already begun taking possession of any formulations they find for sale.
“Since the substances within these products have been scheduled as controlled substances, it will be illegal to make, sell, possess or use these dangerous drugs,” the governor said.
Law enforcement agencies are already struggling to control the flow of such synthetic cannabinoids. While several health departments have already started considering civil litigation against store owners selling such substances, law enforcement officials are convinced that spice has moved from the stores and into the streets.
Authorities fear that the substances are now being imported from overseas, where household chemicals may be used in any amounts when fabricating the synthetic marijuana. The chemicals used to manufacture spice, typically imported from China, come in countless varieties and formulations so that the drug’s molecules can elude DEA illegal drug regulations.
Image Source: Drug Free Homes
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