Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

November 28, 2012

Experts: It’s not a safe alternative

TAHLEQUAH — Administrators at Tahlequah Public Schools know how life has changed drastically for today’s students, who are often tempted with synthetic substances  authorities say are being falsely marketed as safe alternatives to marijuana.

“Maybe when you were in high school, it was about drinking, it was about beer, alcohol, and in extreme cases that was bad – people did die from it,” Tahlequah High School Principal Jeff Thorne said Tuesday night.

Thorne spoke during an educational seminar aimed at informing the public on the dangers of ingesting synthetic cannabinoids, which can be purchased at nearly half a dozen businesses within Tahlequah’s city limits.

“You can buy it legally. They can buy the incense, the ‘spice,’ legally,” said Thorne. “What’s illegal about it is how you use it. Kids tell me, ‘Well, it’s legal, I can buy it legally. You can buy it in several places. Walk in, put your money down, buy it.’ Alcohol was kind of predictable; this stuff is not.”

Cherokee County Juvenile Drug Court Director Cindy Farmer presented much of the information Tuesday evening. The substances – often called “spice,” “fake weed,” “Pope,” “K2,” or other slang terms – are not only affecting high-schoolers, but also those at the middle-school level.

“It’s evident that the assumption is this product is legal and safe,” said Farmer. “Manufacturers will take those synthetic sprays, or it comes in powder form and they mix it with acetone. They spray it on these leaves. They’re not measuring these chemicals. It’s pretty awakening when you think about it. They come in all forms. The average cost is $20 for 2 to 3 grams. It’s poison sprayed on leaves, and it can be up to 100 times more potent than marijuana. It is truly like playing Russian Roulette because you never know what you’re going to get when you get a package of it. Makers change chemicals regularly without notice.”

Farmer said the substances are illegal under federal law and are considered controlled substances.

“We think that because it says on the package it does not include any illegal cannabinoids, it’s OK. The fact of the matter is, it’s not OK,” she said. “It doesn’t tell us all of the different chemicals that are inside it. The way the law is set up, I don’t have to tell you as long as my product says ‘not for human consumption.’ Because of that, I don’t have to go through FDA regulations and justify putting this on the market. They’re selling it to our kids.”

Side effects of spice are typically obvious, Farmer said – including increased agitation, lack of patience, vomiting, increased blood pressure, heart attacks, inability to feel pain, the inability to move, seizures, paranoid delusions, depression, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, feeling of impending doom or death, anxiety, and even death. Some effects are long-term.

“A 15-year-old at TPS who tried spice for the first time fell face-forward on the ground. His heart stopped,” said Farmer. “EMS responded, they were able to start his heart back, and he was in the hospital for three days. Do we know what the long-term effects of that are going to be? No. And what do we know about spice? Not a lot. Clinical studies on these products were stopped because of the effects. These products were doing such harm to the test subjects they could not continue in good conscience.”

Farmer said the products are targeted to young people with scents like blueberry, grape, cotton candy and bubble gum.

“We are in for a long battle. It’s necessary to pay attention to our children,” said Farmer. “Have a conversation with your children, make sure they are aware of the problems these drugs pose. Build a relationship and give them the tools they need to be able to adequately say, ‘You’re stupid, I’m not going to use that with you.’ Ninth- and 10th-graders very much want to belong. These kids want to belong, to find their niche. So let your kids know they can be tested for spice. We have a spice test that will do instant results.”

TPS School Resource Officer Bryan Swim said TPS started seeing effects of spice about a year ago. Board members of the district later created a policy that considers the substances similar to marijuana or other drugs.

“It gets harder and harder on a daily basis to deal with it,” said Swim. “I bet we see one incident a week, probably.”

Swim said students typically say they use spice because “it’s legal and it gets me higher than marijuana.”

“They’ve told me they’ve taken a hit off of this and they pass out, they black out; they don’t know what happened,” said Swim.

Some people can use spice and feel no immediate effect, while others have had seizures or other serious medical conditions resulting in hospitalization.

Marcus Sams, a school resource officer who works with the Cherokee County Regimented Education Academy, told the audience Tuesday night that family members have to take a key role in stopping the use of synthetic products.

“It doesn’t matter what Cindy Farmer says, or Bryan Swim, or what Marcus Sams says. It doesn’t matter,” said Sams. “The bottom line is this: This stuff is dangerous, and my projection is, within one year, we are going to have a child in this community die from this substance. It doesn’t matter what they put on the package, whatever you want to call it, all it is, is somebody is making a dollar off your children, my children, their children, exploiting them. This stuff is going to kill somebody in this community, and then what’s going to happen is, we’re all going to be standing around saying, ‘Why in the world were we not aware, why did we not do anything about this?’ It’s just going to snowball.”

Sams said it’s imperative that parents not allow others to convince them spice products are safe.

“Do not let somebody tell you this is a safe alternative, do not let them tell you this is something that will pass,” said Sams. “It’s dangerous. It’s just somebody putting a bunch of chemicals together and spraying it on this stuff. Don’t be fooled by it, don’t be fooled by a marketing ploy. You know your kids. If they’re not acting right, start asking questions. When they start avoiding it, ask them more questions. Pin them down on it. Call somebody for help.”

 

To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • sr-NSU-Earth-day.jpg NSU students observe Earth Day

    Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
    The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-smallholders-courtesy.jpg Rural smallholders host annual show

    More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
    Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • pitts-hurley.jpg Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
    Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-Wikafile.jpg Communiversity Band performs Sunday

    Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
    The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
    “Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
    “We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council concerned over reports of land contamination

    Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
    Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
    Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Council tables cell tower permit apps

    Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
    Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
    Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.

    April 23, 2014

  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Stocks