Think Twice Before Using Spice
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Think Twice Before Using Spice


Live free or die—that is the motto of the great state of New Hampshire and, unfortunately, an ideology that has been abused as of late. According to the Los Angeles Times, Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency last week after more than 40 people in the Granite State overdosed from smoking synthetic marijuana—known on the rough streets of Manchester, New Hampshire as “spice,” a synthetic version of marijuana. Not to be confused with Marinol, the FDA-approved synthetic THC prescribed to cancer and HIV/AIDS patients, spice is a total ghetto drug packaged as incense potpourri and available for purchase at your local gas station. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people are smoking it—and experts are rightfully alarmed.

Mother Nature Does It Better

“It doesn’t matter who you speak to—medical doctors, emergency responders or addiction researchers—as each will tell you that synthetic marijuana is not only dangerous, it can be toxic to the point of death,” says Constance Scharff, PhD, Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu. “There is no regulation on the types of chemicals sprayed on the herbs in spice; it is absolutely neither natural nor safe. No one should be smoking this stuff, certainly not our kids.”

The good news is that none of the overdoses have been fatal but state officials say there have been “serious medical reactions” and 20 people were rushed to the hospital after ingesting bubble gum-flavored “Smacked,” the label of a particular brand of spice that seems to deliver what its name promises. Local police departments are now being told to quarantine the product from all retail stores in the state.

 Spicing Up the Drug World

Much like bath salts and salvia, spice is another one of these weird loophole drugs that is completely toxic yet completely accessible to anyone—something I would have been all about when I was in high school. Back in my day, when we couldn’t get booze or pot, we turned to things like Jolt, a soft drink that claimed to have double the caffeine of Coke or No Doz (which we called cross tops for no explicable reason)—in short, caffeine pills. I never smoked banana peels or licked a frog but I certainly wouldn’t have been opposed to it. At that age, I would have done anything to change how I felt—which was scared and self-conscious—especially if it also help me fit in.

As an adult, I read articles about horror stories linked to these poor man’s designer drugs and conclude that kids today are stupid. But I was really no smarter back then, so bored I wouldn’t have thought twice about inhaling something labeled “If you like Marijuana, You’ll Love Spice,” even if I knew it might put me in the hospital. Hell, I am the girl who still drank Cisco after my friend Amanda had her stomach pumped and tried cocaine after Len Bias died—I clearly wasn’t fucking around.

Smack It Off the Scene, Immediately

My point is, the only responsible thing for adults to do is pull a product like “Smacked” off the market—and with only a 30 minute drive from Manchester, New Hampshire to the Massachusetts state line, I hope that the surrounding states will follow suit; I am just not sure it’s going to change anything. Kids who want to act out and use drugs will find a way to do it, and while this might be the end of bubble gum-flavored “Smacked,” it’s probably not the end of spice. I have compassion for the families of the people who suffered related health complications and I hope they will be okay. But more than anything, I hope that the victims will at least experience some kind of a wake-up call and think twice about using spice (anti-spice advocates, feel free to use that as your motto).

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.