Pubdate: Tue, 14 Jun 2016
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Author: Daniel Wheaton


More San Diegans are getting high off of spice and causing medical 
emergencies as a result.

Since October, 911 calls relating to spice have been on the rise. In 
February, there were 200 emergency medical services calls, more than 
double the previous month, according research by the San Diego 
Association of Governments.

Spice, also known as K-2, is synthetic marijuana made of herbs or 
some other smokable substance that is sprayed with chemicals that cause a high.

Spice is sold with the label "not intended for human consumption," so 
it isn't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, 
compounds are often changed, allowing manufacturers to create the 
drug despite laws attempting to ban it.

Responding to the outbreak of calls, an amendment to the municipal 
code is on the agenda today for the San Diego City Council, which 
would outlaw "the manufacturing, sale, distribution and possession of 
'Novel Synthetic Drugs and Novel Psychoactive Drugs.'"

Many forms of spice are technically legal, so preventing its sale can 
be difficult. A spate of delirious and violent spice users in 
Hillcrest in February was connected to a smoke shop on University Avenue.

Most of the calls were made in the ZIP codes for downtown, Hillcrest 
and East Village.

Spice presents a psychoactive gamble: Various chemicals are used, so 
side effects such as anxiety, seizures, hallucinations and vomiting 
can occur. Violence is also common, and many of those taken to 
hospitals had to be restrained.

"Police and Fire personnel began to recognize some of the same people 
as being overcome by spice on multiple occasions," the SANDAG report 
notes. "One patient was nicknamed 'Spice' after being transported to 
the hospital on three separate occasions in one day."

SANDAG found that 48 percent of juveniles and 24 percent of adults 
who were arrested and booked in local jails said they have used 
spice. Since SANDAG started collecting this information, more 
juveniles have been using spice, up from 16 percent in 2012. Of those 
who used spice, more than two-thirds said the experience was "very or 
extremely bad."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom