This past Monday a coordinated effort between law-enforcement agencies in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties netted 20 arrests for the sale of synthetic drugs. It had all the makings of television high drama as swat vehicles were shown by local news networks in front of area convenience stores. The next day Elkhart and St. Joseph county prosecutors Curtis Hill and Michael Dvorak, respectively, came together for a press conference to discuss the arrests. The state seal of Indiana graced the lectern.
Really? All this for the sale of fake marijuana — with names like K-2, Spice and Mr. Smiley — when there are so many more serious threats in our community, including heroin and methamphetamine use? A couple years back when local and state officials were pushing for bans of synthetic drugs, we gave them an attaboy, and suggested a return focus to more prominent problems.
SEVERAL YEARS LATER we stand corrected. These fake drugs have evolved into a significant danger, especially among our children and we commend all involved in executing Monday’s raids, the culmination of a year-long investigation according to Hill.
As Oaklawn Hospital substance abuse specialist Michelle Olson explained to Goshen News City Editor Roger Schneider in today’s paper, there are more than 30 chemical compounds in synthetic cannabis, many of which are unknown. With continued use, Olson said, the physical problems for users begin to mount and include increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, vomiting, nosebleeds and coughing up blood.
Elkhart County Coroner John White confirmed that a recent death is being investigated to determine if synthetic marijuana use was a contributing cause.
OLSON, WHO SAYS hundreds of teens are treated at Oaklawn each year for synthetic addictions, explained that the drug often induces aggression and, like other drug addictions, facilitates a change in friends and a regression in school attendance and performance.