Health warning about fake marijuana in Delaware
Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
Three people in Sussex County, Delaware were hospitalized over the weekend after ingesting a synthetic marijuana know as “Spice” or “K2″. The three Seaford residents had trouble breathing and heart palpitations. Two of them were treated and released, the other was admitted.
The incident is cause for concern among Delaware health officials who have been monitoring similar cases in the Midwest. Kevin Huckshorn is the director of Delaware’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. She says the synthetic marijuana is four times as potent as traditional marijuana.
She says the synthetic marijuana is produced by spraying a “cannabinoid-like” substance onto dry herbs. The result ends up looking similar to chopped up tobacco or potpourri, and it’s typically sold in head shops and some convenience stores as incense. Huckshorn because there’s no way to determine what chemical’s have been sprayed on the herbs, smoking or ingesting the substance is a gamble. “Since you don’t know what it’s being mixed with, it’s a crap shoot.”
It’s not clear whether synthetic marijuana is actually illegal. Huckshorn says it may be covered under analog drug laws, which outlaws any chemical that is very similar in make up and affect to an illegal substance. “You can’t create and then sell an aspirin that acts as a Vicodin without having to go through the same process as the Vicodin, because the drug that you’ve just created it does the same thing, so we don’t care that it’s not called the same thing.” Other states have taken action to specifically list synthetic marijuana as an illegal substance.
Health officials say anyone who’s used “Spice” or another synthetic should call the local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.