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December 20, 2011

Worse Than Marijuana But Legal

Shawn Burns

Professor John W. Huffman, the man who first synthesized many of the cannabinoids used in synthetic cannabis, has been quoted as saying that "People who use it are idiots. You don't know what it's going to do to you."


Yet, Spice, as it is called, is still legal.


In fact, all you have to do is walk down Market Street in Frederick and you will see it proudly advertised for sale by one prominent business owner.


Spice is marketed as an “herbal incense,” but in reality it is nothing more than a dangerous designer drug marketed to our children.


It is marketed to children as a legal alternative to marijuana. But this drug appears to have far more dangerous side effects and without the necessary regulation, consumers have no idea what they’re really getting.


As the drug has gained popularity around the world, scientists have been conducting research into the composition of this drug and the effects on the body. As a result, many countries have banned Spice including Germany, France, Chile, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, and the United Kingdom.


America currently has no such ban on the drug, although on March 1, 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) invoked its "emergency scheduling authority" to make most "legal high" products illegal. The relatively inactive herbs used in these products are spiked with potent designer drugs. The drugs are now on the DEA's Schedule I, meaning they have no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. The emergency action will remain in effect for a year, during which time the government is expected to call for permanent control of the drugs.



Our Frederick County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly has an opportunity to be statewide leaders on calling for the immediate ban of sales of Spice and other designer drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana.


Spice appears to have many negative side effects that don’t even come close to the side effects of regular marijuana use.


Some of the mild side effects from using Spice have been reported to include lack of concentration, short-term memory loss, anxiety attacks, hallucinations, nausea, chemical dependency associated with addiction and a reduction in critical skills needed for learning and processing information.


The use of Spice can also lead to more serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide.


Reports from around the country regarding teen use of Spice include suicides after use, hospitalization for a variety of symptoms including heart related issues and at least one report of a teen being hospitalized with a severe reaction to the drug that resulted in swelling of the brain.


Many psychiatrists believe that synthetic cannabis may be more likely to induce psychosis than natural cannabis.


The use of Spice has become a problem in the military in the last few years. Earlier this year, the Navy discharged 16 sailors on the USS Bataan for using and dealing Spice. The Naval Academy and Air Force Academy have also been dealing with problems related to the use of Spice in the last year resulting in numerous expulsions.


Make no mistake about it: this stuff is poison that is being sold legally to children.


Spice and other products like it, are not spices, herbs or incense. The sole purpose of these products is to get high. Anyone who sells it in his or her business knows this to be true. They will argue that it’s legal, so they are not doing anything wrong. Bull.


Anyone who sells Spice and other similar products is a drug dealer.


Worse yet, they are drug dealers targeting our children and they should be dealt with accordingly.


It is bad enough that these products can be purchased on the Internet, but it’s even worse that people who live in our community have resorted to becoming drug dealers targeting our children in order to make a few extra bucks.


Hopefully our local delegation will actively call for the passage of legislation banning the sale of Spice in our state.


And to the guy on Market Street with the big sign in front of his shop advertising the sale of Spice: you are a drug dealer and you should be ashamed of yourself. You are an embarrassment to yourself, your family and the community which you call home.


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