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Law enforcement now seeing ‘Spice’ drug locally

The Screven County Sheriff’s Office has begun seeing synthetic marijuana enter the county and want to warn those who may think the “fake marijuana” is a better option.
Synthetic marijuana, or Spice, K2, and a variety of other names, is made of dried, shredded plant material soaked with chemical additives that allegedly give effects similar to marijuana. Sgt. Brett Dickerson said this dangerous, not-very-well regulated product may have chemicals toxic to human health.
In fact, the chemicals added to the plant material make it a Schedule I drug which is a felony. For those caught with marijuana and have less than one ounce of it, it is a misdemeanor.
In the past three weeks there have been at least two arrested for having synthetic marijuana on their person, Dickerson said.
“In both instances we found it on their person and it appeared to be marijuana,” he said, “but upon interviewing the suspects and analyzing the contraband it turned out to be synthetic.”
A bust from Aug. 10 is still being analyzed, but the SCSO is almost certain it will end up as a controlled substance charge instead of possession of marijuana charge.
Two men, Paul Martin Youmans, 54, and Allen Lee Brown, 39, were both charged with possession of a controlled substance on Aug. 19 after the K-9 unit Deputy Ken Kelley pulled Youmans over for driving offenses.
Without strict regulation, synthetic marijuana can be extremely potent compared to its natural counterpart, adding danger to the use of it, Dickerson said.
“Because of the manufacturing process, the stuff is not given any oversight by anyone,” he said. “If you were to use Spice, you don’t know if you’re getting a half a dose of what is actually needed to obtain the high that the user is seeking or if you’re getting 50 times that amount which obviously could lead to some serious problems.”
The synthetic marijuana did not start out illegal in the United States, but after several deaths and high-risk situations the material was banned. It is not unlike bath salts, which were purchased legally and then used improperly leading to terrible instances of violence.
There have been no studies on the potential health ramifications synthetic cannabinoids have on a human’s health – but they have been reported to cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations.