'Spice' -- the dangerous new teen drug

Nancy Thorner
Making inroads among students in school systems across the nation is a new drug known as "spice." Also known as K2, spice is a mixture of herbs and spices that typically is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  It mimics the effects of marijuana and can be purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets and over the internet as a chemically-laced incense product.

Not surprising is that spice has become a problem in the military.  The Navy recently discharged 16 sailors assigned to the USS Bataan for using or dealing spice.  Seven midshipmen were also expelled from the Naval Academy and five cadets from the Air Force Academy.  During the last four months 151 sailors have been accused of using or possessing spice under the Navy's zero tolerance policy.

Spice made its entry into the U.S. from Europe in 2008 when a public high school in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago reported the first Illinois school drug overdose involving spice. The drug caused the student to experience a marijuana-like high which led to a severe anxiety/panic attack.  The student related how he had purchased the drug over the Internet, smoking it just before the start of the school day.  The package in the student's possession had as its ingredients:  "Herbal extracts of Blue Lotus flowers, Bay Bean, Dwarf Skullcap, Lion's Tail, and others --  all legal.  Troubling is that hospital urine tests do not detect spice.     

Concern and curiosity over my state's handling of K2, led me to this article, "Legality of K2 Herbal Incense, Spice in the United States."  Published on April 4, 2010, the article lists state-by-state what action is being taken to ban K2 Incense, Spice Gold, and Herbal Incense.  According to the 2010 article, fifteen states have already taken action and a number of states are in the process of trying to get the ingredients in K2 Incense banned.    

In a society where there is ambiance toward marijuana and where the legalization of medicinal marijuana is gaining in support, should popular opinion be the yard stick for legalization?   

According to the report "2009 Monitoring the future Results":  "Marijuana is the most widely abused illicit drug in this nation among both youth and adults.  Forty-two percent of high school seniors have tried marijuana, with 20.6% of them reporting that they have used marijuana in the last 30 days. Teens who start smoking marijuana at a younger age have a higher chance of drug addiction."
Meanwhile, findings presented by Dr. Staci A. Gruber at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego in 2010 tell of long-lasting and detrimental effects of marijuana use among adolescents.  According to Dr. Gruber, "The developing brain is not the same as the adult brain."  Gruber goes on to explain how the pre-frontal cortex is the the last area of the brain to develop and that the part that modulates executive function is the last past to develop.

Similar detrimental effects can be linked with the prolonged teen use of spice, the synthetic version of marijuana, including:  Lack of concentration, short-term memory, and critical skills needed for learning and processing information.  Marijuana and its equivalent spice can also lead to more serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide. 

Spice has mostly likely entered your community as another way for teens to experience highs.  As spice is still legal to purchase in many states, it is logical that it will only grow in popularity. 
Making inroads among students in school systems across the nation is a new drug known as "spice." Also known as K2, spice is a mixture of herbs and spices that typically is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  It mimics the effects of marijuana and can be purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets and over the internet as a chemically-laced incense product.

Not surprising is that spice has become a problem in the military.  The Navy recently discharged 16 sailors assigned to the USS Bataan for using or dealing spice.  Seven midshipmen were also expelled from the Naval Academy and five cadets from the Air Force Academy.  During the last four months 151 sailors have been accused of using or possessing spice under the Navy's zero tolerance policy.

Spice made its entry into the U.S. from Europe in 2008 when a public high school in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago reported the first Illinois school drug overdose involving spice. The drug caused the student to experience a marijuana-like high which led to a severe anxiety/panic attack.  The student related how he had purchased the drug over the Internet, smoking it just before the start of the school day.  The package in the student's possession had as its ingredients:  "Herbal extracts of Blue Lotus flowers, Bay Bean, Dwarf Skullcap, Lion's Tail, and others --  all legal.  Troubling is that hospital urine tests do not detect spice.     

Concern and curiosity over my state's handling of K2, led me to this article, "Legality of K2 Herbal Incense, Spice in the United States."  Published on April 4, 2010, the article lists state-by-state what action is being taken to ban K2 Incense, Spice Gold, and Herbal Incense.  According to the 2010 article, fifteen states have already taken action and a number of states are in the process of trying to get the ingredients in K2 Incense banned.    

In a society where there is ambiance toward marijuana and where the legalization of medicinal marijuana is gaining in support, should popular opinion be the yard stick for legalization?   

According to the report "2009 Monitoring the future Results":  "Marijuana is the most widely abused illicit drug in this nation among both youth and adults.  Forty-two percent of high school seniors have tried marijuana, with 20.6% of them reporting that they have used marijuana in the last 30 days. Teens who start smoking marijuana at a younger age have a higher chance of drug addiction."
Meanwhile, findings presented by Dr. Staci A. Gruber at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego in 2010 tell of long-lasting and detrimental effects of marijuana use among adolescents.  According to Dr. Gruber, "The developing brain is not the same as the adult brain."  Gruber goes on to explain how the pre-frontal cortex is the the last area of the brain to develop and that the part that modulates executive function is the last past to develop.

Similar detrimental effects can be linked with the prolonged teen use of spice, the synthetic version of marijuana, including:  Lack of concentration, short-term memory, and critical skills needed for learning and processing information.  Marijuana and its equivalent spice can also lead to more serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide. 

Spice has mostly likely entered your community as another way for teens to experience highs.  As spice is still legal to purchase in many states, it is logical that it will only grow in popularity.