Sheriff warns of ‘Spice’ danger

Published 11:30 am Friday, March 2, 2012

Spice, a substance marketed as incense or spices but is essentially a synthetic form of marijuana, is illegal in many states, including Georgia and Alabama.

As area schools’ spring break approaches, local law enforcement are spreading the word about the dangers of a new drug commonly known as “Spice.”

Spice, also known as K-2 and other names, is essentially synthetic marijuana, a chemical mixture that looks similar to marijuana and supposedly gives people who smoke it a similar “high” feeling.

The problem is that some convenience stores have sold and continue to sell Spice, even though it is now banned by federal law and illegal to sell or possess in many states, including Georgia and Alabama.

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Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin said that the sale of Spice over the counter by less scrupulous stores makes it more easily available to teenagers, who might not realize how illegal or addictive it can be.

According to Griffin and other officers, ingesting Spice has reportedly caused hallucinations, vomiting and in rarer cases, lung damage and even death.

“We are talking about something totally different than marijuana,” Sheriff Griffin said. “It even says on the label, ‘Not for human consumption.’”

Once sold legally at many convenience stores and head shops, Georgia, Alabama and other states have cracked down on Spice after the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency placed it on the Schedule I controlled substance list, Captain Chip Nix of the Sheriff’s Office said.

“Have a conversation with your teenager who is headed to Spring Break and warn them that this synthetic drug, known as Spice or K-2, is a very dangerous drug,” Sheriff Griffin said. “Even though at this time it is legal in Florida, it is a felony crime to possess this drug in Georgia. Please warn them to think before they act.”

Other names under which Spice is sold include Kush, K2, Dank, Serenity, Black Mamba, Wicked Spice and King Kong, Captain Nix said.

Spice products contain a mixture of spices and herbs that are sprayed with a chemical that produces the marijuana-like effects. It has a leafy, organic appearance similar to potpourri or marijuana and is smoked similarly to marijuana.

Griffin said he has not seen any local stores selling Spice, although he noted that convenience store owners told deputies they have been approached by suppliers offering to sell it. Law enforcement temporarily shut down a convenience store in Colquitt, Ga., last year after it was found to be selling Spice illegally.

Two separate arrests have been made for possession of spice in recent weeks in Decatur County, the sheriff said. Both arrests were made by Georgia State Patrol troopers, who stopped youth believed to have been returning from trips to Florida beaches, Griffin said.

“Spice is dangerous because it is manufactured outside the regulation of food and drug experts,” Nix said. “Some people who smoke it have no problems with it. In others, Spice causes severe side effects, even death.”