Synthetic marijuana posing serious health risks, agencies taking action

Asia Ashley Staff Writers

September 2, 2013

Local officials are taking action on the sale of synthetic marijuana, after the recent hospitalization of 12 Brunswick residents who said they ingested the drug.

Law enforcement agencies have since seized Crazy Clown, Triple X, 20 X, Black Lion and Original ShamRocks, after the twelve were hospitalized with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, weakness, cardiac problems and some unable to move, leaving them in ICU or on life support, according to Rick Allen Director of Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.

The products, sold as herbal incenses, have been sent to crime labs for testing to identify the products’ unknown ingredients.

Synthetic marijuana has been shown to display symptoms far more dangerous than marijuana, said Allen.

“They move way faster than marijuana,” said Allen. “A lot of the makers are just mixing a bunch of stuff together and it has become way far removed from what was originally sold as synthetic marijuana.”

Synthetic marijuana was mistakenly discovered by a professor who was researching and experimenting with chemicals to find various treatments. The product he came up with proved 20 to 30 times more potent than marijuana.

“Unfortunately, people gained access to the experiment and began creating similar concoctions, resulting in the sale of synthetic marijuana,” explained Allen.

Despite the boldly marked “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” on the back of the small foil pouches sold behind the counters at many convenience stores, many despite the warning smoke the product as a marijuana substitute. Some of the brands are marked “Must be 18 years of age to purchase,” making it legal for other brands to be purchased by minors.

Captain William Grizzard of the Narcotics Division at Troup County Sheriff’s Office said that the agency has received complaints of an herbal incense sold in the area, and has been given permission by the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to remove synthetic marijuana from stores at any time a potential risk or complaint is posed to the community.

“We don’t want anyone consuming of this drug,” said Grizzard. “A lot of them are sprayed with unknown chemicals that can be much more dangerous and deadly than marijuana.”

Many stores have removed the drugs from stores by request, said Grizzard, and the sheriff’s office will continue monitoring all related leads and updates.

Allen said if synthetic marijuana will continue to be sold, the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency would like to partner with other states to work towards mandating synthetic marijuana companies to list all ingredients on packages and require that all buyers be over the age of 18.