Synthetic marijuana use down

Negative effects of
drug, its reputation
cause many to stop

John MuguerzaReporter

Synthetic marijuana is known under many names, including K2, Spice, Ultra Chronic and Blueberry Haze. But whatever you call it, it’s all illegal in Corpus Christi.

It has been in the local news a lot lately, from a woman who admitted to having smoking it before causing a three-car accident on Farm Road 666 to three Corpus Christi jailers quitting their jobs after an investigation showed they were smuggling synthetic marijuana to inmates. One of the highest-profile cases was that of 19-year-old Jacob Musich, who, along with two other teens suspected in the case, abducted and raped an 11-year-old girl after days of smoking synthetic marijuana. Musich pleaded guilty to the crime and in late October was sentenced to life in prison.

On Nov. 20 the Foghorn asked 30 random students several questions about the drug, including whether they had ever tried synthetic marijuana. One in 3 students said they have, and of those, 80 percent said they stopped smoking it because it’s now illegal and/or the negative effects it caused them along with the bad reputation it’s starting to get.

“It gives you bad trips, and it’s starting to get a bad reputation, which is why most the people I know that have smoked it, don’t continue to smoke it,” said Del Mar student Robert Perez. Perez says he has never smoked synthetic marijuana but some of the negative effects his friends have experienced include severe panic attacks and the feeling of rooms spinning so fast that they couldn’t even lie down to try to counteract the bad high they got from chemicals in the synthetic marijuana.

On Feb. 1, narcotics officers raided eight smoke shops in Corpus Christi with the main goal of sending the message that synthetic marijuana is not legal in the city, according to the Caller-Times.

During a news conference held that evening, District Attorney Mark Skurka said, “Make no mistake, this stuff is illegal,” and, “It’s a poison, like a plague that’s infecting our community.”

Shop owners and employees from three of the eight smoke shops that were served with the warrants had no comment when asked by the Foghorn on Nov. 20 about the selling of the illegal substance.

Del Mar student Aaron Zuniga said he tried a few brands of synthetic marijuana when it was legal, and each gave him a different high. While most were similar to real marijuana, he said, he did have one bad trip that left him feeling anxious and uncomfortable around people.

Zuniga said he thinks the crackdown on synthetic marijuana is more politically charged than anything else because it was legal not too long ago and more people are affected by alcohol abuse than synthetic marijuana abuse.

“It’s the government trying to have the upper hand on what the people are going to choose to do that’s considered legal, because the only people that are really using it are people that are concerned about drug tests at work or people on parole — those are the people that mainly use it,” Zuniga said.

Synthetic marijuana is far more harmful than actual marijuana and is closer to methamphetamine, said attorney John Michael Lamerson. According to Lamerson there is a list of prohibited chemicals that people can find within the Texas codes that makes synthetic marijuana illegal, but the state and federal government will always be playing catch-up because no one really knows what’s in it until it has been tested, and Department of Public Safety labs are about nine months to a year behind in terms of testing for chemicals right now.

Lamerson also said it will be hard for the government to catch up to the different strands of synthetic marijuana because state officials who pass the laws that make specific chemicals illegal only meet for two weeks every couple of years. This gives manufacturers plenty of time to alter the compounds enough so they can pass the state’s chemical test, Lamerson said.

But it is a problem the state takes seriously, Lamerson said, as evidenced by synthetic marijuana being a Class A misdemeanor and on the same level with most prescription drugs such as Xanax, compared with natural marijuana being a Class B misdemeanor.

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