By Andrew Metcalf (Open Post), Columbia Patch
Synthetic marijuana is becoming a significant problem in Howard County, according to a local pediatrician.
Dr. David Monroe, director of the Children’s Care Center at Howard County General Hospital, wrote today in a blog post on HoCo Well and Wise that two recent incidents have highlighted the problems caused by synthetic marijuana in the county.
He wrote that recently a teenager was brought into the emergency room at Howard County General Hospital because he was vomiting every 10 minutes for two hours after smoking synthetic marijuana in a high school bathroom.
“In a separate instance,” wrote Monroe, “a teenager threatened to kill himself after smoking synthetic marijuana. This prompted his parents to call the police, who brought him to the hospital.”
Monroe said in the post, “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
The synthetic drug, which produces marijuana-like highs, is currently legal in Maryland. It is marketed as herbal incense under names like K2, Spice and Black Mamba; and sold at gas station convenience stores in small packages.
In February of 2011, the Drug Enforcement Agency made it illegal for one year to possess and sell five chemicals used to make the fake pot products. In February of 2012, the ban was extended for another six months, according to the Huffington Post.
Despite this ban, manufacturers are still producing the product and selling it in a number of states. One Website for K2 prominently displays a banner that says, “Our product contains no DEA-banned substances.”
Recently, investigators uncovered 500 to 600 pounds of K2 in a warehouse in Tampa, FL, but no arrests were made, according to local reports.
Another K2 website has posted a map showing the states where the product is legal. Maryland is green and the description says “available.”
The product is created by soaking or spraying plant materials with a variety of different chemicals, according to WebMD.
“Synthetic marijuana can cause serious medical problems,” wrote Monroe, “including heart attacks and death. Fortunately, to date no teens in Howard County have died, but many have been treated in the emergency for a variety of conditions including intractable vomiting, psychosis and the overwhelming desire to commit suicide.”
Currently, one bill banning the substances in Maryland passed through the Senate, 46-0, and was scheduled for a hearing in the House on April 4.
However, attempts to ban synthetic marijuana have been thwarted as manufactures make minor changes to their chemical makeup to skirt the law, according to Monroe.