Juvenile Judge: Synthetic Marijuana 'Epidemic' with Local Teens

Juvenile Judge: Synthetic Marijuana 'Epidemic' with Local Teens

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MOBILE, Alabama -

It goes by many names: spice, K2, fake, chem, synthetic marijuana. It's effects are extremely dangerous.

"There are kids being sent to the emergency room all over the country, because of this use," said Gail Hooper with the Drug Education Council in Mobile.

Judge Edmond Naman with Mobile Juvenile Court says he's never seen anything like it. He claims hundreds of kids are ruining their lives by smoking the illegal drug. Twenty-five teenagers have been sent to mental institutions since January.

"It has gotten so bad, we had one case where a hospital asked, 'can we do electroshock therapy on this child, we have tried everything, all the medications, and nothing is reaching them,'" said Judge Naman.

Spice was taken off the shelves in October 2011 and banned, but that obviously hasn't stopped kids from getting their hands on it.

"You can actually go to gas stations and get it," said a teenager in Mobile County schools who wished to remain anonymous. "I've seen people walk right in, grab it, and walk right out."

The seventeen-year-old said parents would be amazed at how many kids are using it.

"You have no idea, there's a ton of kids out there," he said. "A lot of them have to go to Florida, they'll get bags upon bags, they'll just load down with the stuff, bring it back here, and distribute it."

Drug counselors say it's popular with kids because it's cheap, and they don't think a drug test will detect it.

"Part of the reason it's so dangerous is because it is so unpredictable," said Gail Hooper. "Someone could use it one time and have very mild effects, and then the next time they use it they could have extreme effects; anything from extreme anxiety, to hallucinations, to even sometimes psychotic behavior."

"It is really scary, and it's really bad," said Judge Naman. "I think the parents really need to know what's going on with this, and have enough information to take action and take it quickly."

Synthetic marijuana is a fairly new drug, but they are starting to use tests to detect some of the chemical compounds in a person's system.

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