5 things to know about synthetic drugs being sold to teens

Spice. Scooby Snax. K2. These are just three of the names used to describe synthetic drugs that are commonly used by teenagers-- and even preteens.

Since Saturday, 15 young people have been hospitalized in Western Maryland due to overdoses that are believed to be connected to the drugs. Two of those victims were briefly put on ventilators.

Here are 5 things you need to know about synthetic marijuana:


Teenagers have been smoking this stuff for several years. In fact, it's the second most popular illicit drug with high school seniors, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Boys are more likely to use it than girls.


A big selling point for teens is the accessibility of "Spice." It's easy to purchase in places like gas stations and convenience stores. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has said it is as easy to buy as a candy bar.


The problem starts with the packaging. Synthetic marijuana is often marketed in colorful packets as incense or potpourri, and the label says "not for human consumption." The product contains a mix of herbs and man-made chemicals with mind-altering effects. While the packaging may list the ingredients as natural, experts say that is not the case.


People who smoke "Spice" say it produces effects similar to marijuana, and sometimes even stronger. Those who abuse it have been hospitalized for symptoms such as rapid heart rate, agitation, vomiting and hallucinations. In extreme cases, the drug has been associated with heart attacks.


Many of the active chemicals found in "Spice" have been made illegal by the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, that has not put a stop to it. Manufacturers have been able to stay ahead of the law by using different chemicals in their mixture.

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