After writing a story Tuesday about a new brand of “fake weed” substances that are surfacing around the country, I got a tip that Kitsap County’s juvenile drug court staff has also encountered this stuff.
“Spice,” also known as “K2,” and other monikers, got on their radars in late 2009. Two Bremerton teens participating in the drug court were presenting staff with a bit of a puzzle.
“Their (urinalysis tests) were coming up clean,” said drug court probation officer Carrie Prater, who monitors 20 to 30 kids a time through the program. “But their behaviors were that they were using.”
According to the DEA, these products are synthetic marijuana. An herb or spice is sprayed with a chemical that, when smoked like real marijuana, gives a similar high. The products are sold as a potpourri or incense.
Prater said the teens had entered the drug court for using substances unrelated to “Spice.” But one of the teens ordered some from Europe online, she said. He was pulled over while driving and an officer found it.
“We couldn’t even sanction them for it because it wasn’t in the contract yet,” she said.
That has since changed — the drug court contract now says participants can’t take substances that are counterproductive to the treatment process, she said. The Navy, too, has already banned it.
The teen admitted to having used Spice after he was pulled over and found with some. One other teen has also admitted to using it.
Both also told Prater something disturbing: that they’d experienced withdrawals — one of headaches and nausea, the other of anxiety and heart palpitations — when they stopped using it.
Stories from around the country (here’s a couple) confirm these chemicals can have bizarre — and perhaps damaging — effects on the body. The DEA is still studying these compounds, and they have a ways to go before we truly know what their long term effects are.
Early reports of products “made it sound like it was actually safer than marijuana,” Prater said. “When you hear their side effects, it’s definitely not.”