Synthetic Marijuana wreaks havoc on youth

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley is aggressively targeting the sell and use of synthetic marijuana in Ascension Parish. The product is a blend of herbs and spices laced with synthetic cannabinoid like chemicals meant to mimic the highs marijuana produces.

While the synthetic drug is categorized and used as synthetic marijuana it is being marketed and sold in stores as potpourri or incense under such names as White Dove, White Rabbit, Amsterdam Attic, Purple Passion, Spice and K2 to name just a few.

The Sheriff would like to warn our "Parents" in the community and local businesses about the products that are being abused locally and nationally. Recently, several of our local high school students had to be rushed to the hospital and treated after smoking the synthetic marijuana.

The chemical compounds found in the potpourri or incense is far more dangerous than their packing would suggest. By using the product it can cause hallucinations, extreme paranoia, chest pains, a high blood pressure, dangerously rapid heart rate causing a heart attack, and suicidal tendencies.

The Synthetic Drug phenomenon emerged in the United States over the past two years. When it first emerged it sold for $30-$35 a pack. Now it sells for around $15. The drug is known as a chemical cocktail that is designed by amateur chemists, who mimic the effects of marijuana. It can be purchased on line and is also sold in stores.

In 2011, following an over whelming number of reports of illnesses and individuals suffering from hallucination's and extreme paranoia caused from using synthetic marijuana, a law was passed in Louisiana making the chemicals that were laced in the product illegal an categorized as a Schedule 1 controlled dangerous substance. Authorities seized the illegal synthetic marijuana from stores that sold it when the law enacted. Following the new law passage and seizure of the illegal product authorities noticed the product again being sold in local stores. Ascension Parish authorities randomly purchased the new product and pursuant to lab testing the new incense the compound that made it illegal to sell was not found. It was then discovered the product was being laced with chemical compounds that were not listed under the Louisiana controlled dangerous substance laws. The testing revealed to authorities that amateur (underground) chemist were constantly changing the chemical compound in the incense which makes it impossible for law makers to keep up.

The Sheriff's Narcotics Division has met with local merchants in Ascension Parish and has strongly encouraged them not to sale the product. The store owners/ managers have been advised by Ascension Parish authorities they were being put on notice that any resulting death or injury caused by such product sold at their store could result in criminal prosecution as well as civil exposure.