Thursday, May 17, 2012
7 News Investigations: Up in Smoke
7 News first brought the problem to light almost two years ago. What's known as "fake pot" is being sold in stores and online as herbal incense. The trend is now taking hold in Florida, and teenagers are seeing dangerous results. 7's Patrick Fraser shows us these young lives going 'Up in Smoke.'
WSVN -- Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "It started out, he was on his knees in the hallway."
Peggy Aeyla thought her son was going crazy.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "He knocked the doors down, he broke them off their hinges."
Brandon had come home from the store when he suddenly went berserk.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "Then he jumped up and started climbing the walls."
Peggy tried to help him, and he turned on her.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "He turned around and he climbed up me, as if piggyback, but only on the front."
Peggy was terrified as her son seemed to be having convulsions.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "He started moving and contorting as if he were possessed."
It was a horrible episode and Peggy remembers every detail, including the cause of their nightmare.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "The Cloud 9 fell out of his pocket, so I knew that's what he had smoked."
Brandon has smoked a synthetic marijuana that you can buy over the counter, sold as an herbal incense.
But it is so powerful it took four police officers and two paramedics to get him to the hospital, where they had no choice but to commit him to a mental facility.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "He was Baker Acted for 72 hours by the police."
Peggy says the fake pot Brandon had smoked was called "Cloud 9." Others are sold as "Armageddon" or "California Dreams," but it's all referred to as "K-2" or "Spice."
Labeled as herbal incense, bought by kids and young adults who smoke it because it makes them high.
But they are ignoring the warning label on the package that says "not for human consumption."
Dr. Peter Antevy, ER Physician, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital: "We have seen a dramatic increase in the use of K-2, Spice."
Dr. Peter Antevy says K-2 leaves kids in a psychotic state.
Dr. Peter Antevy, ER Physician, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital: "Hallucinations, hearing voices, seeing things."
The people smoking it see nothing wrong with it, but they may want to stop and look at themselves.
Go to YouTube, where people have posted videos of K-2 smokers.
This guy is twitching and shaking, then jumps out a window. Dr. Antevy says, that's not uncommon.
Dr. Peter Antevy, ER Physician, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital: "We've had people who've actually opened the car door on 595 and jumped out of the car."
And yet it's being bought by mostly young people online or over the counter in South Florida.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "It's not healthy, it's not safe, and it should be pulled from shelves."
Patrick Fraser: "Across the country, law enforcement has gotten many of the chemicals in K-2 declared illegal. But the makers of the product simply change the ingredients and use new dangerous chemicals to make them legal again."
David Gross, Florida Department of Law Enforcement: "They're literally flying over to their distributors overseas, giving them the list saying, 'We need a new product, it cannot be one of these,' and then they release the new strand or new chemicals into the United States."
So at the same time they are battling an ever-changing list of ingredients, FDLE is now targeting the people who sell the fake pot to kids.
David Gross, Florida Department of Law Enforcement: "If they want to endeavor to sell these products, they're going to get called out on it."
Just last week, the Sweetwater City Commission voted to ban the K-2 products. The right step, a frightened Peggy Aeyla says.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "I think it could be the difference between life and death."
Unfortunately, passing a law won't stop kids who think it's cool, who think they are invincible from trying K-2.
Peggy Aeyla, Son Overdosed on Fake Pot: "I thought he was dying right in front of me."
Sadly, it may take the passing of a few kids before others realize how quickly their lives could go up in smoke.
Patrick Fraser: "The FDLE has been able to get an additional 90-plus substances banned in the State of Florida. They tell us they're working closely with the Attorney General's Office on new enforcement techniques to get rid of synthetic marijuana for good."