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Synthetic Drugs

Cheap, easy to get, dangerous and deadly

I scanned the store and noticed most of the customers were middle age with their teens just checking out a cool beach store. As they were checking out the beach apparel and cool surf jewelry, I wondered, "Do they see what I'm seeing? I bet their teen does..." You see, to the average person, this drug stuff blends in and is camouflaged with all of the other brightly colored stuff, so it's easy to overlook. But a teen or young person can spot it quickly.

Jackpot - Picture of my findings.

"May I help you?" a young sales clerk asked. "Yeah, can I see a few packets of that?" I asked pointing to the colorful array of tea bag-like packets. "Incense?" she asked? "Is that what you call them?" She smiled "well...some people smoke it, but we don't recommend that..." I asked if they sold bath salts and the attendant mentioned that they had to pull those off the shelf about a year ago. As I referenced in a previous blog, many states have banned the sale of bath salts, and I happen to live in one. If I lived in a state that hadn't banned them, I would have easily had my hands on a bath salts packet. Check out my previous blog to learn more about bath salts. Since I ran across "Spice" let's turn our attention to what it is.

What is Incense or Spice?

Simply put, "Spice" is synthetic cannabis or fake marijuana. It has steadily increased in popularity among teens and young adults. Spice is a popular option for teens because it doesn't show up in drug tests like pot. However, it is very dangerous because it is dried plant sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid powders. Spice is marketed as "incense," but as I found in my search also marketed as "not for human consumption" which makes it easy to get, cheap and legal. About a year ago, the DEA identified several chemical compounds found in spice blends as "drugs and chemicals of concern" and initiated a nationwide ban of these chemicals. Unfortunately, it's still out there and until the feds pull it off the shelf, teens are still getting their hands on it.

What are some of the side effects of smoking Incense (Spice)?

  • accelerated heart rate
  • feeling of euphoria
  • increased blood pressure
  • bloodshot eyes
  • numbness and tingling
  • anxiety/paranoia
  • panic attacks
  • vomiting
  • severe hallucinations
  • tremors/seizures
  • Agitation (which can be severe and require sedation)

What are some of the warning signs that may indicate the use of Fake Weed (Spice)?

  • If your teen is using Visine to clear those red or bloodshot eyes, watch out.
  • If your teen's pupils are dilated, start asking questions.
  • If your teen appears glassy eyed or is walking around in a staggering daze then something is up.
  • If you find bongs, pipes, and/or smoking papers, then I'd say that's a dead giveaway.
  • If your teen is coughing up a lung like a smoker, only he doesn't smoke, then that's a tell tale sign you need to investigate.
  • If your house smells like potpourri all the time because your teen is burning something, make sure she's not puffing it too. (Synthetic cannabis can have a berry or minty scent.)
  • If the UPS truck is dropping off special packages to your teen. In fact, you can often find the best deals online.

With new drugs constantly popping up, it's important that parents stay in the know about them. Many of these drugs can have life-altering and tragic effects on the users. If you suspect your teen is using recreational drugs, please get help immediately.

Unfortunately, for now, incense remains legal in many states and countries and can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18. When I began my research I was appalled at how easy not only is it to get your hands on the stuff, but also what's on the internet. Did you know that teens who want best bang for their buck can visit a blog called, "Spice University" and get a review on the best herbal incenses? Parents, this is scary stuff... please take time to speak with your teen about the dangers associated with fake weed (Spice) and bath salts.

Helpful Resources

1. American Council for Drug Education

2. Treatment Center

A nationwide directory of treatment centers that
specialize in the treatment of alcoholism, addiction, eating disorders, and
drug problems. Treatment

3. The Partnership at

4. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

5. To the Maximus Foundation