Firefighter: Spice use on the rise

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

GLENDALE, Ariz  --  The use of synthetic marijuana is on the  rise among teenagers.  The National Drug Institute said in 2011 alone one in nine high school students tried the drug spice for the first time.  Two Challenger Middle School students in Glendale were among the latest to discover the dangers of the drug.

The students smoked spice on their way to class last Tuesday, prompting one of the girls to complain to her counselor that she wasn’t feeling well.  The counselor called 911 and emergency responders took the student to the hospital.  The parent of the other student was called and she was taken home.

“The students were experiencing the negative side effects of spice,” Glendale firefighter Michael Young said.  “It’s supposed to give you a marijuana-like effect, but unfortunately it’s giving you a meth-like effect.” 

Many teenagers experiment with spice trying to recreate the mellow effect associated with marijuana.  They wind up, however, experiencing nausea and psychosis similar to using methamphetamines. 

The Challenger Middle School students’ experience is becoming all too common across the country.  The American Association of Poison Control Centers says 6,959 calls were made last year stemming from the effects of synthetic drugs like spice, K2, and bath salts.

Authorities note that the varying mixtures of the drugs can lead to different side effects.  Symptoms can include paranoia, anxiety, high blood pressure and hallucinations.  Synthetic drugs also usually fail to show up on a drug test, and can be just as addictive as more well known drugs. 

“They are addictive, so once they start taking the spice or the K2 they’ll want more to give them that same type of high,” Dr. Art Mollen explained.  “These are not safe drugs.  These will cause significant problems going forward. “

Many states have made synthetic drugs illegal, and over the past two years the Drug Enforcement Agency has made bath salts, K2 and spice illegal.  Despite government efforts, new designer drugs that are not yet covered under drug laws continue to be manufactured. 

For more information about talking to your children about the dangers of synthetic drugs visit