Spice linked to numerous hospitalizations in Montgomery area

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – More than three dozen people were recently treated in local hospitals for medical issues linked to the synthetic drug known as spice, authorities in Montgomery county said earlier this week.

Forty-one young people have gotten sick after using a synthetic form of marijuana known as spice, Montgomery police and fire officials along with the county’s district attorney said during a meeting Monday.

Spice, also known as K2, is a mixture of herbs and spices that are mixed with chemicals to mimic the effects of marijuana, according to the DEA. Federal officials say users smoke the synthetic drug in joints or pipes and also make it into tea.

“We’re very concerned because we are getting a tremendous increase over the last three or four days, and that worries us,” the Montgomery Advertiser quoted Department of Public Safety Director Chris Murphy as saying.

The spike in hospitalizations was reported between Thursday and Monday, local officials said. The effects the drug has on the body can include increased heart rate, paranoia, nausea, vomiting, seizures and more, according to federal officials.

“What we want to get out to parents is that don’t mistake this as not dangerous; it’s actually more dangerous than some drugs because you don’t know what you’re getting,” Murphy said.

Part of what makes the drug dangerous is that manufacturers may use various combinations of chemicals to try mimicking the effects of marijuana that could have negative and life-threatening impacts on the user’s health, Police Maj. Scott Simmons said.

“It’s virtually a garbage can of chemicals put together and you’re buying into smoking it,” he said.

Local schools and law enforcement agencies are expecting to do more searches at local campuses for the drug, Montgomery Public Schools spokesman Tom Salter said.

“It’s not about arresting someone or getting someone in trouble,” Simmons said. “We want to know where this came from to prevent anybody from getting sick before we do have someone end up dying.”

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Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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