By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – There’s another product on the market that parents should be concerned about. Even though marijuana isn’t legal, synthetic marijuana is and it’s sold at stores near you.
Teens and young adults are using these products to get high. Other names include potpourri, herbal buds, Spice, Skunk, Blaze and Nitro.
While many teenagers may not raise their parents’ eyebrows by wanting to use potpourri to make their rooms smell good, these packages warn against human consumption and advise not to burn the product but some people are smoking it and getting high anyway.
North Kingstown Police have been notified by concerned parents but, because it’s a legal item, officers say there’s nothing they can do about it.
It’s with that in mind that the Rhode Island Student Assistance Service and North Kingstown’s Working Together for Wellness (WTW) Coalition is trying to get the word out about these products and their effects.
“They’re obviously doing it to get high,” Laura Hosley, director of community prevention at Rhode Island Student Assistance Services said early last week. “But there’s paranoia, hallucinations, heart palpitations. Those are the more dangerous effects. Kids overdo everything. They combine with other substances such as alcohol or other type of drugs.”
Synthetic marijuana is legally marketed as herbal incense and doesn’t trigger a positive result on a urine drug test.
These products haven’t been tested by the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) and even though they are marketed as 100 percent natural, the true health effect of the items is unknown because many have been found to contain synthetic cannabinoids, a class of chemical compounds which include phytocannabinoids which is found in the cannabis plant.
Some health experts fear adolescents may be tempted to use the fake marijuana products because they buy into the idea that they are made up of “natural” ingredients and think that they are safe and legal.
WTW wants parents to educate their children about the hazards of consuming anything that has not been tested and let them know that these fake marijuana products are anything but natural.
Most recently, 28 United States Navy sailors from the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan were discharged after being caught using a synthetic marijuana product called Spice. One month prior to that incident, the Navy discharged another 64 sailors from the U.S.S. Carl Vinson for using similar products.
WTW says it is in the process of finding exactly what businesses are selling these products and, because this information just came to the attention of the coalition, they’re in the process of investigating further.