Spice still legal warnings abound

first_img“Got spice?”That was the big, clever marketing message on a banner displayed by a Spokane-area convenience store when Sarah Denis drove by.Denis, a chemical dependency counselor at Daybreak Youth Services, a Vancouver residential drug-treatment facility for teen boys, wondered if the store owner knows what she’s been learning recently: Spice and its chemical cousins may still be legal — but they can cause anxiety, paranoia, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, vomiting, seizures and other nasty health problems.Sounds like a fun high, huh?Synthetic cannabinoids, originally designed to mimic the effects of marijuana for medical testing, have arrived in Clark County — and spread across the nation — as a supposedly safe and legal alternative to pot. You can buy it in local smoke shops and some convenience stores, where it comes in little foil squares, labeled as incense and stamped with the additional warning, “Not for human consumption.” But manufacturer, seller and buyer all know what it’s really for.It isn’t detected by traditional urinalysis. Police and local hospitals aren’t reporting crime waves or emergency rooms swamped with kids totally splattered on spice.But Denis, who interviews teen boys on their way into Daybreak for inpatient treatment, said she’s heard that spice sparks some distinctly unpotlike behaviors: rather than slowing down or mellowing out the smoker, it can lead to a loss of impulse control and a serious psychological need for more. There are anecdotal reports of kids ransacking their homes for the money to buy it, she said.“But some kids say it’s not that way for them,” she added.“The temptation to use it, and to think it’s OK to use it, are pretty strong,” said Donna Wiench, Daybreak’s development director. “They tell us it’s not a drug because it’s not illegal and it’s not addictive.”last_img read more