Yuma healthcare professional address the dangers of Spice

Yuma healthcare professional address the dangers of Spice

Courtesy:  DEA Courtesy: DEA

YUMA, AZ - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration extended its emergency scheduling authority to control the five chemicals used to make "Spice," a synthetic cannabis or "fake pot". 

DEA's action on Wednesday makes possessing and selling products that contain them illegal in the U.S. for another six months.

Troy Love and Sally Dalton with Courageous Journeys run an adolescent drug treatment program.

"In working with teenagers who experimented with Spice, they're excited that it's not on the list [of scheduled drugs] per se and they have a really hard time being able to comprehend the damage that it's doing to their brains, the damage it's doing to their ability to function," says Love, a Clinical Licence Social Worker.

"It can't be detected so young people who are in trouble with the law use it because the chemicals used in it are more harmful than marijuana, which they're using it in lieu of," says Dalton, who holds a Masters in Social Work.

"These are easier to get, maybe are less expensive and they produce much of the same hallucinogenic effect. These are drugs which have been designed by chemists purely for the sake of getting high."

Tom VanHassell sees the problems associated with Spice in his role as Vice-President on the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy.

"It's very similar to LSD or cocaine.  It's very potent.  It's [has] long-term effects on your body.  It could be hard on the liver, on the lungs," says VanHassell, who is also Director of Pharmacy at Yuma Regional Medical Center.  "Obviously, smoking things:  chemicals into your lungs...can cause problems.  It also causes long-term, potential for psychoses and heart palpitations and, in general, lot of other health issues."

The DEA Took action a year ago because of Spice's imminent threat to public health and safety.

"Then, there were two House bills in Arizona:  HB 2167 and HB 2356, which is the most recent," says VanHassell.  "[It] makes the sale and distribution of bath salts and Spice illegal here in Arizona."

While Love applauds federal and state efforts to make Spice illegal, he worries:  it may force those who need help underground.

"Addiction is an addiction of secrets," says Love.  "And so we hide it, keep it under the radar, and it makes it even harder to recover from addiction."

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