Teens and the dangers and side effects of synthetic marijuana and bath salts

There’s a fad sweeping the country and it’s not a good one.

Everyday the news here in Florida is inundated with stories about synthetic drugs, mainly synthetic marijuana and bath salts.  Spice, K2, Ivory Wave – they’re marketed as legal marijuana “incense” and bath salts.  And the companies and people making them are targeting our kids.  Check out the packages below:


The packages are colorful with cartoons or ‘cool’ images that attract kids.  There are all different names:  K-2, Spice, Scooby Snax, Smiley’s, WTF, and Jazz to name a few. And the contents of these packages are killing kids and tearing families apart.

I read an article this morning about a 15-year old girl who was once into sports, always got good grades, enjoyed roller skating, fishing, camping, going to movies and going on hunting trips with her dad.  She was always the center of attention, very outgoing and outspoken.  Then one day she fell into the ‘wrong’ crowd.  She started to pull away from her family.  At first, the parents gave her space, thinking she was just growing up and was going through the typical ‘teen’ withdrawals.  But her behavior became worse and after a bit of ‘investigating’, her parents discovered their daughter was into Spice and K-2.  Her parents intervened but they kept running into walls because of the availability of the drug.  Their 15-year old daughter could walk into the local convenience store across the street from her high school, plunk down a couple of bucks and walk out with this ‘legal’ concoction known to make people hallucinate, have seizures and even die.  It is very frustrating to parents, doctors and law enforcement because these packages contain chemicals that scientists don’t really know what they are.  The manufactures go and change the chemicals as soon as the authorities make them illegal, thus making the synthetic drug legal again.

Teens using the drugs say it’s okay because “it’s legal”  Drug addicts use it because  it doesn’t show up in urine tests.  Others use excuses that alcohol and prescription drug use kill people and cause seizures too, so what’s the difference?

The difference is we know what the long terms effects of alcohol and  many drugs are and have developed help centers and rehab facilities to assist addicts to overcome the addictions.  Prescription drugs are developed and studied over long periods of time and are verified as safe for legitimate use.  Known side effects are listed.  Many times drugs are discontinued because long-term problems arise after 5 – 10 years of use.  In short, the prescription drugs are regulated.  With synthetic drugs, the formulas are always changing, which makes  medical treatment sketchy.

According to Crittenton Hospital Medical Center’s Director of Pharmacy Marc Guzzardo, “Everyone must know that these synthetic marijuana chemicals are much more dangerous than the active ingredient in marijuana.  They are much more toxic, more potent, more addictive and can result in adverse health effects in just minutes after smoking. You should not assume these products are safe or legal just because they are sold in stores.”

People every day, including teens, are being admitted to emergency rooms with seizures and rapid heart rates. Other common symptoms include paranoia, agitation, hallucinations, confusion, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, vomiting, and nausea. Law enforcement officials and physicians have also reported violent behavior in people who indulge in these ‘legal’ drugs, propelling the user into violent rages that often result in physical harm to others as well as irreversible brain damage.  Many users also report their brains and/or skin feel like they’re on fire after smoking synthetic marijuana.  Because there is no oversight into the manufacturing of these ‘drugs’, the strength of the ‘spice’ can vary widely, causing users to react differently to different brands or batches. There have also been reports that these ‘legal’ drugs contain dangerous residues of heavy metals and acetone.

According to the National Institute om Drug Abuse (“NIDA”) 11.4% of high school seniors across the U.S have used synthetic marijuana.

If you are a parent and are concerned that your teen may be using synthetic drugs, watch out for rolling papers and plant materials that resemble incense or potpourri, and packages marked as bath salts.  Look for the mental and physical symptoms of use, too.  Side effects from synthetic bath salts include:

  • increased heart rate
  • agitation
  • lack of appetite
  • increased alertness and awareness
  • anxiety
  • muscle spasms
  • increased blood pressure
  • kidney failure
  • seizures
  • risk of renal failure
  • hallucinations
  • aggression
  • severe paranoia
  • panic attacks

Side effects from synthetic marijuana use include:

  • vomiting
  • loss of consciousness
  • elevated blood pressure
  • seizures
  • increased heart rate
  • agitation
  • dangerous hallucinations

Help is available if you suspect your teen is using synthetic marijuana or bath salts.  In Florida, Operation Par provides help with substance abuse problems.  Treatment varies depending on each case and the cost depends on the plan the child is enrolled in.  Sliding scales are often implemented for those on limited incomes.  There are also rehab centers across the nation who are now offering programs to teens addicted to synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

25 thoughts on “Teens and the dangers and side effects of synthetic marijuana and bath salts

  1. This is not like the old hippie pot that they tried to grow in their vegetable garden among the rows of corn. As you say, this stuff is bad news. Even the pot they smoke today is sprayed with something. It has a very strong smell. It’s not the old pot and the old pot was definitely a drug, but this is enhanced.


    1. How old are you, Joey, if you don’t mind me asking? Hopefully, you’ve told others to stay away from this terrible stuff. I’m so glad you are okay after your bout with it. Tell as many people as you can, especially teens, about your experience with the stuff. Young people may not listen to adults but they do tend to listen to their peers and others who like to smoke pot. Thank you so much for commenting. Maybe others will see your comment and think twice before indulging.


  2. A lot of people seem to be missing the point, that is marijuana should be made legal, so that people don’t need to take these dangerous unknown substances.


    1. I agree. Not that I’m a huge supporter of drugs, but I think alcohol is far worse than pot. AND we would get out of our national debt in about a year if it were legalized and taxed.


    1. I hope so. I know kids who are doing this stuff and it has changed them dramatically. The thing is, most of them come from good, caring homes. I don’t get it. Peer pressure, maybe, I don’t know. If they don’t listen to me, I hope they listen to someone before it’s too late. Thanks for your kind words.


  3. Oh man, this is scary stuff. I don’t think it’s pervasive in Minnesota, but there was a smoke shop in my small town that was selling these kinds of things and the city council denied renewal of their license until they agreed to stop selling it. One of our city councilors is also a county probation officer and was extremely concerned about them selling this stuff even though, the owners said “Most people used [the incense] the right way. Some decided to smoke it despite the label. We can’t control something like that.” Ugh! That statement makes me sick. And this whole thing makes me sick with worry for my 13 and 9 year old.


  4. This is the first time I’ve heard of this. Maybe it hasn’t reached Canada, yet, or maybe I’m just naive. I can’t believe such toxic stuff is sold over the counter! Thanks for the warning! 🙂


  5. Interesting. I’d heard of Spice, but the place that sold it here was put out of business by a new law. I didn’t know they used bath salts. Weird.


    1. yes, there are laws here, but the laws only reflect certain chemicals. Because the manufacturers keep changing the chemicals, the laws can’t keep up.

      It’s very, very scary and I hate that the stores that carry it don’t give a crap how the ‘drugs’ are hurting people. As long as they can make a buck.


  6. That’s scary, there are so many things for parents to worry about with their teens besides just the illegal drugs. There were two other scary trends I heard about a while ago, which I know were happening both in the US and here in the UK, don’t know if you’ve heard of them – one is called vodka eyeballing (that’s what they call it here anyway), which I believe started in university bars, where they pour shots of vodka (or tequila) direct into their eye, it supposedly gets them intoxicated quicker, but it’s more a bravado thing because it really hurts, and they don’t realise it is causing them permanent eye damage, sometimes permanent blindness if they do it a lot. The other one is called the choking game, where they tie scarves around each other’s necks and pull tight until the person passes out because they supposedly like the head rush when they come around – you can imagine how that one goes wrong sometimes!

    We all like to think that our kids wouldn’t get into any of these things, but it’s a dangerous assumption to make.


    1. Oh, yeah. It’s everywhere here, and it’s legal to sell because it is marked “not for human consumption”. The Governor is cracking down but kids can still get it very easily. Lots of places are storing it behind the counters so all the kids have to do is go up and ask for it. To be honest, I’d rather my kids smoke pot than this stuff (not that I truly want that either), but if I had to take the best of the two…pot would be it.


  7. It just goes to show how carefull we all should be. Its good you have put a list of the signs to look for when someone is taking things they should not be taking. Those sort of drugs should be banned.


  8. The local corner store… just 3 blocks away from the high school 9actually main campus that houses the elementary, middle, and high) got busted recently along with another store for seeing illegal bath salts. I used to go there for a soda but since this hit the news? I’m not giving them my business.

    The worst part? Right after the raid, they had more product to put on the shelves. The local news was reporting and while no one would talk to them, they went inside and saw the product. Going to the police to report it was the reporter’s next step. It’s appalling.

    I thank God every day that my kid didn’t fall into this death trap. He won’t even drink energy drinks. He calls them poison.

    One could argue that government shouldn’t be intervening in our lives, I firmly believe that the companies that produce this stuff need to be shut down before another parent realzies too late that their kid in hooked on this stuff.


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