Mayor signs law that allows jail time for deli owners who sell K2


HARLEM, Manhattan — Surrounded by the Police Commissioner and New York City Council Speaker, Mayor Bill deBlasio signed three, new laws Tuesday designed to decimate the businesses of deli owners that sell synthetic pot, often referred to as K2 or Spice.

“We will go at their livelihood and we will shut them down,” the Mayor said, before signing the bills inside East Harlem’s 25th Precinct, which is close to the “epicenter” of the K2 crisis on Lexington Avenue, near 125th Street.

Under the new laws, it’s a crime—punishable by up to one year in jail—to manufacture or sell synthetic cannabinoids, which are often marketed in $5.00 colorful packages with names like “Scooby Snax,” “AK-47,” “Geeked Up,” or “Wet Lucy.”

The stuff is sold as potpourri—dried plant material–but it’s actually been sprayed with chemicals  from China to create a high. K2 abusers would smoke the concoction and many ended up getting sick from bad batches.

“We recovered over two million packets of this,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said at the press conference, referring to joint raids with federal agents over the summer.

“We’ve been very successful in stopping what could have been a tidal wave.”

After emergency room visits skyrocketed in April, May, June and July, New York City started a multi-pronged campaign to rid the streets of K2.

Inspectors from the Health Department and Department of Consumer Affairs joined local cops to raid delis suspected of selling the synthetic pot.

In September, DEA agents and NYPD cops raided warehouses in the Bronx where hundreds of bags of the dried plant material was waiting to be sprayed with the chemicals—and then packaged for sale in bodegas, smoke shops, and delis.

Under the new laws, 9,000 shop owners in the city who sell cigarettes could have their licenses revoked, if they get caught a 2nd time selling synthetic pot.

They could also face fines of up to $50,000.

The police and various city agencies conducted a fifth raid of stores last week and found hardly any K2 packs.

Bratton said this was a good sign that law enforcement is having an impact.

Hospital emergency room visits are said to be down 28 percent since the Bronx raids in September.

Public Service Announcements about the K2 scourge have started appearing on TV, featuring teenagers, in the last week.

But the local crisis has impacted many homeless people, along with the mentally ill and poor.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito played a large role in spearheading the summer crackdown.

The epicenter for the crisis was in her district, on Lexington Avenue near 125th Street.NETHERLANDS_COFFEE_SHOPS_01e97

http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.js#ec=FmYTZieDr_6ltUS9tKVJDAl-t3E_KfEu&pbid=71fea79861d14fce867bc2d59a66edd8

Advertisements

Artificial Pot Alleged as Cause of Teens’ Center Attacks


When a 16-year-old has cardiac arrest it increases a few eye-brows. Unless the teenager occurred to lead a dual life as a high-stakes day investor with a three pack-a-day addiction or was taking bread by the lb and cleaning it down with several urns of coffee, chances are nobody saw it coming. However, when three 16-year-olds all have strokes in the period of a couple of several weeks, people look for solutions.

Such was the situation for Dr. Colin Kane, a childrens cardiologist in Facilities who saw three 16-year-olds confessed with pain in stomach area last fall. Dr. Kane applied EKGs and blood vessels assessments, which verified the young children had experienced strokes. Once verified, physicians went about trying to discover the cause of the strokes.

According to Kane, who released the situation reviews in the publication Pediatric medicine, all three teenagers revealed smoking cigarettes weed and K2 – artificial weed – within a couple of several weeks of the strike. They did not confess to using any other medication and assessments came back negative for drugs and crystal meth – drugs one might normally affiliate with center disease.

This led Dr. Kane to believe the strokes were due to artificial weed like K2 and Liven – also promoted as Liven Silver, Yucatan Flame, Genie, Flame n’ Ice, Solar power Width, PEP Liven, etc. A few months ago the DEA momentarily made artificial cannabinoids a Routine 1 narcotic while the substances are analyzed.

Kane understands that it cannot be proven that artificial weed triggered the strokes – the teenagers could have used other medication, such as steroid drugs, and protect about it. However, Kane thinks the K2 triggered bloodstream that bring blood vessels to the center to spasm, which could cut off blood vessels flow and cause cardiac arrest.

In addition, Kane mentioned on the fact that artificial pot like K2 is not regulated. “Who knows what else these medication could be infected with?” he said.

This is an excellent discussion for the legalisation and control of all medication, which have the potential to do more damage as a product of the underground and which will be absorbed regardless of control and validity. It should also be mentioned that there are threats involved for those looking for to artificially estimated marijuana’s “high.” Even if these teens’ strokes were not due to K2, weed is certainly a more secure alternative.

warn against ‘spice’ drug


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Health officials say a form of synthetic marijuana known as “spice” has caused at least a half-dozen cases of sudden kidney failure in Oregon and southwest Washington since May.

The Oregon Health Authority says experts are analyzing samples of synthetic marijuana to find the toxin that triggered the injuries. The agency has also asked doctors across the region to report any cases of kidney failure linked to the drug.

Spice-related illnesses have been reported elsewhere in the United States. Authorities in Wyoming made three arrests in March after several people in the Casper area were hospitalized for kidney failure after smoking spice.

The Oregon Board of Pharmacy voted to ban the sale and possession of synthetic cannabis products last year.

A bicyclist is …


A bicyclist is under arrest after police say he was in possession of K2 spice – synthetic marijuana – and crack cocaine.

State Police say troopers stopped 21-year-old Eric Clay of Rochester Sunday afternoon when his bicycle crossed in front of a patrol car and continued down the middle of the road.

During an interview, police say Clay appeared nervous and told troopers he had an ankle bracelet and was on supervised parole. Troopers say when Clay removed his shoe, they saw he was in possession of K2 spice and subsequently he was found to be in possession of 13 small bags of crack cocaine.

He was held in the Monroe County Jail pending arraignment.

Ban on ‘Spice’ and ‘Bath Salts’ extended in Yavapai County pending trial


CAMP VERDE — Late Monday, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Michael Bluff extended the ban on the Yavapai County sale of “novelty powders” and other synthetics called “spice” and “bath salts” by known retailers.

In a 14-page ruling, Judge Bluff affirmed a permanent injunction against nine of the 12 retail shops named in the complaint filed by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. The judge further issued a preliminary injunction against the remaining three known retailers: Wes Lance Trading Company, Steve Ogden and the Island Store.

Retailers in Prescott that have been banned from selling the novelty powders are Prescott Quick Stop, Mike’s Mini Mart, and The Island Store. Shops in Cottonwood banned from the sale of these drugs are Hawaiian Honey Swimwear and Pipe Dreamz Smoke Shop. Shops in Prescott Valley that are banned are X-Hale Smoke Shop, Mario’s PV Quick Stop, the Hobby Glass, Smoke N’ Thingz, Mike’s Connection and Texaco on Highway 69. Wes Lance Trading Company in Camp Verde has also been banned.

“What is so important is that parents and their children, as well as all community members, understand how dangerous and life-threatening these synthetic drugs are,” said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. “I knew this stuff was horrible when we started the trial, yet I was still overwhelmed with the testimony recounting the violence and self-destruction, and how these drugs are effecting everyone across the county.”

This ruling comes after three days of Superior Court testimony in late August. Among his findings, Judge Bluff wrote that novelty powder drugs are synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones that have effects similar to marijuana and methamphetamine, but more intense, unpredictable, dangerous and addictive. The judge further found that the novelty powders are packaged to mimic the appearance and names of recreational illegal drugs, and despite the warnings on the packages that they are “not for human consumption,” they are sold solely for human consumption.

The street names include: Go Fast, K2, Spice, Sprinklezz, Incense, Potpourri, Herbal Sachets, Glass Cleaner, Felt Cleaner, Go Fast Carpet Cleaner, Exuberance Powder, Tickle Talc, Bath Salts, Smokin’ Dragon, Mr. Nice Guy, Fear and Loathing, Diablo, Amped, G6, Eight Ballz, White Lightening, Crazy Train, Hashish 6X, Token Monkey, Black Gold 20X, Legal Devil, Funky Green Stuff, and Bliss.

In issuing the injunctions, the judge found that evidence at the hearing showed that the novelty powders cause serious physical and mental harm to the users, including dangerous increases in metabolic rates resulting in dangerous hyperthermia (overheating), increased heart rate, stroke, cardiovascular collapse, seizures, and death.

The judge found that users often suffer from delusions and hallucinations, exhibiting signs of severe psychosis, paranoia and anxiety, and that users will often suffer long-term effects from the drugs such as psychosis, depression, insomnia, suicide ideation and self-mutilation.

The judge observed that users under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones will often engage in aggressive acts of violence against medical and law enforcement personnel trying to assist them, and innocent bystanders; and that synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones may be even more addictive than marijuana or methamphetamine.

The judge found that the evidence from the hearing shows that novelty powders are having a serious and negative impact on emergency medical services in Yavapai County and that the emergency medical professionals of the community report a dramatic increase over the last eighteen months in patients needing emergency medical treatment.

Among his findings, the judge noted: the evidence shows that the patients are often physically injured due to acts of self-harm, and that they are violently combative; that as many as 20 patients a week are presenting at Yavapai County’s three emergency rooms for treatment due to ingestion; that patients under the influence of novelty powders are violently combative, “out of their minds,” and that violent attacks on paramedics, doctors and nurses are common with such patients; that it is frequently necessary for hospital personnel to physically restrain, sedate, and intubate patients in order to treat the patient and eliminate danger to hospital personnel; and that these patients represent a serious drain of hospital and community resources available for medical emergencies.

The judge found there is a strong likelihood Yavapai County will prevail on the merits, and ruled that the sale of novelty powders presents a likelihood of irreparable injury to the people of Yavapai County. The judge declared that public policy favors the ban.

A copy of the Preliminary and Permanent Injunctions, as well as all the pleadings and affidavits, can be found at the Yavapai County Attorney’s website at http://www.yavapai.us/coatty/press-releases/court-pleadings-bath-salt-ban/.

The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office asks that community members with information about anyone selling synthetic drugs in Yavapai County contact the office at (928) 771-3344 and ask to speak with Maggie.

Troubleshooter: Cops can’t stop store from selling spice


CLARKSVILLE, IN (WAVE) – A dangerous drug is being sold right out in the open right in the heart of Kentuckiana. The WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department went undercover to expose how one local business is getting away with it and why police have not been able to stop it.

Business is booming at one of southern Indiana’s hottest new locations, but no one wants to talk about what is on the menu.

Police said what they are buying inside Monroe’s in Clarksville is synthetic marijuana. Its street name is spice. Spice is a shredded, dried plant sprayed with chemicals that produces a mind altering high.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse said people who smoke spice often feel psychotic effects. The effects include extreme anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations that have been linked to illness and death.

Spice is illegal in Indiana, but Troubleshooter Eric Flack discovered it is being sold right out in the open at Monroe’s. Hidden camera video caught a seemingly revolving door as streams of customers come and go. Parents and professionals. Young and old.

“I’ve seen it busier than Kroger right next door,” said Cpl. Tony Lehman of the Clarksville Police Department.

A WAVE 3 Troubleshooter producer went in undercover with a hidden camera to get a look at what was going on inside. The video shows there is nothing in the store but a pool table, a coke machine, a display case of glass pipes, and a man behind a counter who chose his words carefully.

“What you trying to get?” the man asked our undercover producer. She told him she was looking for spice.

“We don’t sell spice baby,” he said. “We got some incense.”

Although he referred to what he was selling as incense, his intent seemed clear when we asked him about the range of prices.

“Depends on how strong you want your incense,” the man told our undercover producer.

The undercover producer ended up buying something called Triple-X. It cost about $10 and was labeled “not for human consumption”, but it looked exactly like the synthetic marijuana linked to all those dangerous side effects.

The guy who gave our producer the Triple-X would not come out and talk to Troubleshooter Eric Flack when he returned to Monroe’s to get an explanation about what they were selling.

“Cut that (expletive) camera off man,” he said.

The Clarksville Police Department has been investigating the store for months but thus far have been unable to make any arrests.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Cpl. Lehman said. “It’s just horrible for the community, it’s horrible for the kids and people who smoke this stuff, and its so frustrating that we can’t do anything about it.”

The Troubleshooter Department discovered the reason police can not do anything about it. Technology used by Indiana State Police can not keep up with the problem.

State Representative Milo Smith, who wrote Indiana’s spice law, said ISP’s lab equipment is not advanced enough to identify the newer, altered compounds of synthetic marijuana, which can be just a few molecules different from the original. Police said they can not press charges until tests confirm the presence of those banned chemical compounds.

Representative Smith said state police have not given up. He said ISP is now searching for private labs with equipment capable of proving what is being sold at Monroe’s is illegal so they can stop it from being sold on the open market.

In the midst of the Troubleshooter investigation, Monroe’s was the scene of a violent confrontation with a man who allegedly tried to break into the store and steal the synthetic marijuana.

Kevin Martin is now facing a list of charges that includes resisting arrest and burglary after he fought with officers who caught him trying to rob Monroe’s. Witnesses saw Martin throw a rock through the front door and called police. When officers arrived they said Martin fought with them and tried to escape before he was finally handcuffed and taken into custody.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office is aware of growing spice problem in the area and is trying to step up enforcement and is threatening to seize the assets of businesses caught selling spice if they don not sign an affidavit to stop.

Attention All Readers – You Must Know


All yellow Porsche 997 Turbo

First i would like to thank each and every reader that has made our blog one of the largest if not the largest for herbal incense and bath salt reviews and news. I have had so many emails these past 2 months asking me if you can buy herbal incense products from me. I just dont have time to email every request back that i get and i never want a reader to think that we are not interacting with you.

Here is the facts, we do not in any way shape or form sell herbal incense products. We are simply a resource for information in the herbal incense spice world. We enjoy giving readers information about the herbal incense spice busts and the incense industy reviews on herbal products. I know that the DEA and law enforcement has cracked down hard on several business across the USA over the past 2 months and now herbal incense is much harder to find.

I know this because everyday i get all the news and busts from our large database of resources and news streams. But i want to make it very clear we are only a resource for learning everything there is to know about herbal incense and news. We do not sell, stock, or tell clients where to buy herbal products or bath salts. If a client sends us a sample of there herbal incense products and its a legal product, we will review that product and write a post to edcuate the public on what we feel about that product. Keep in mind everyone has a different opion about herbal products and everything in life.

Here is an example, i have a freind of mine that bought a brand new porsche and its an amazing car. But that car is bright yellow and to me its screams UGLY. Now everyone else might just love yellow porsches, but i cant stand yellow cars. Now if i was to write a review about that bright yellow car i would say what a nice ride but bad choice in the cars color. Lets say i posted a pic it here

Now how many of you think this yellow porsche 997 turbo is amazing? Well when i look at it i just see a yellow BEE.

So my point is that everyone does not agree on everything. Many times when i post about a herbal incense i have tried i do my best to insure that i let people know just how strong there herbal spice is. Well to me – a daily smoker, its not as strong as someone that might only smoke once a month. Thats why i do my best to be honest so that my readers know what there getting before they get it. But thats only my opion. If i here of any great websites selling wholesale herbal incense i will make a post and update you and try to do a mass email on all the requests that i get for it.

But honstly i dont like to tell people where to buy any products, just give you a review of what i tried what my personal opion is of that product and where i got it from.
Hope this helps and as always thanks for all the support from our readers. It really is awesome. We have over 300,000 visits per week and thats truly amazing!

Rudy Eugene’s Toxicology Report: Experts speculate on what caused ‘face-chewing’ attack


CBS/AP) MIAMI – Experts are still speculating about what may have caused Rudy Eugene’s face-chewing attack on Ronald Poppo in Miami last month. A toxicology report on Wednesday failed to find “bath salts” and other major street drugs in Eugene’s system.

Pictures: Fla. police identify “face-eating” naked man

The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner said in a news release that the toxicology detected marijuana but it didn’t find any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs. Eugene also tested negative for adulterants commonly mixed with street drugs.

An expert on toxicology testing said marijuana alone wasn’t likely to cause behavior as strange as Eugene’s.

“The problem today is that there is an almost an infinite number of chemical substances out there that can trigger unusual behavior,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida.

There has been much speculation about what drugs, if any, would lead to the bizarre May 26 attack at a Miami causeway that left Poppo, 65, missing about 75 percent of his face. The tests ruled out the suggestion that 35-year-old Eugene may have been under the influence of bath salts, which mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine and have been associated with bizarre crimes in recent months.

An outside forensic toxicology lab, which took a second look at the results, also confirmed the absence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and LSD.

Goldberger said the medical examiner’s office in Miami is known for doing thorough work and he’s confident they and the independent lab covered as much ground as possible. But it’s nearly impossible for toxicology testing to keep pace with new formulations of synthetic drugs.

“There are many of these synthetic drugs that we currently don’t have the methodology to test on, and that is not the fault of the toxicology lab. The challenge today for the toxicology lab is to stay on top of these new chemicals and develop methodologies for them but it’s very difficult and very expensive.” Goldberger said. “There is no one test or combination of tests that can detect every possible substance out there.”

An addiction expert said she wouldn’t rule out marijuana causing the agitation.

“It could have been the strain of marijuana that increases the dopamine in the brain, such as sativa,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera, assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

There are two strains of marijuana called sativa and indica. The sativa increases dopamine and gives you energy while decreasing pain threshold. Indica is a “sleepy high,” she explained.

“People don’t really know what the amount of either is in each little packet of marijuana,” she explained. “And we can’t differentiate between the two in the blood, much less in a dead person.”

She also suggested that if Eugene had a mental disorder, “the marijuana could have increased even further the dopamine levels and aggravated the situation. So that can’t be ruled out.”

Eugene’s friends and family have said he was religious, not violent and that he didn’t drink or do drugs harder than marijuana, so they are baffled as to what caused Eugene’s brutal assault against the homeless victim.

“There’s no answer for it, not really,” said Marckenson Charles, Eugene’s younger brother. “Anybody who knew him knows this wasn’t the person we knew him to be. Whatever triggered him, there is no answer for this.”

Charles said the family does not plan to pursue any legal action against the police for shooting Eugene on the day of the face-chewing attack. Surveillance video from a nearby building shows Eugene stripping Poppo and pummeling him. The police officer who shot Eugene to death reportedly said Eugene growled at the officer when he told him to stop.

“They used the force they felt was necessary even if we don’t agree with that,” Charles said.

He said Eugene has been buried.

Poppo has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized. His left eye was removed, but doctors said earlier this month they were trying to find a way to restore vision in his right eye. He will need more surgeries before he can explore the options for reconstructing his face, doctors have said.

Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Braunstein unveil anti-bath salts bill to toughen penalties


State Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R/C/IP -Rome), supported by Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside),have unveiled new legislation designed to meet the rising use of the drugs with legislation that will help protect the public. The legislation is also supported by Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D/WF/IP-Utica), in response to an escalation of bath salts use in his district.

“In 2011, we took a strong role to address the issue of these hallucinogenic drugs being sold in New York, and we passed a good law that Gov. Cuomo signed last July. However, what we are seeing in recent days is a dramatic upsurge in incidents in which the violent, bizarre behavior of individuals who have confronted the police is being linked to their use of these drugs. As such, I am going to be working with my partners in the Senate, Assembly and Governor’s office to pass legislation that will take stronger action, because I believe the response to what we are seeing is to take even stronger measures to protect families and our law enforcement personnel,” Griffo said.

“Between the time we developed last year’s legislation and this summer, we have seen an explosion of synthetic drugs that are causing serious law enforcement, health and mental health problems for communities and families across New York State,” said Braunstein. “Our goal with this new legislation is to respond to the concerns addressed to us by law enforcement and develop a bill that will give them the tools needed to crack down harder in order to end the widespread misuse of these drugs.”

“One of the reasons the use of bath salts has skyrocketed in recent weeks is its easy availability,” said Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D/WF/IP-Utica.) “I am joining with Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Braunstein as a sponsor on this legislation, because I believe it will make it much more difficult for store owners to sell these products. When people use these drugs, they often become violent and irrational, and this has become a serious public safety issue. It is important that we get the message across to store owners and individuals that if they sell these products, they can face significant criminal penalties.”

The new bill would classify substituted cathinones (these products, often referred to as “bath salts”, are chemically related to methamphetamines and ecstasy – which are both classified as stimulants) as Schedule I stimulant controlled substances and create a Statewide substituted Cathinone Surrender Program to allow for surrender of these harmful substances to appropriate authorities. Griffo noted that his initial legislation criminalized the sale of “bath salt” products containing Mephedrone and MDPV. Since then, a current practice of making minor alterations to chemicals to subvert statutes that prohibit distinct chemicals made it possible for slightly altered “bath salt” products to continue to be sold in New York State. Braunstein noted that in this new legislation, by adding substituted cathinones to the CSA based on foundational chemical structures, this loophole of chemical alteration would be closed. Not only will this bill provide criminal sanctions, but also makes it a felony to sell such product to a minor or on school grounds

Senator Griffo praised Assemblyman Braunstein, who has sponsored previous bills on bath salts with him, and also Assemblyman Brindisi for his support for laws in response to the dangerous increase in bath salts use.

“There is a can-do spirit in Albany that says when there is a public safety priority to address, we work as partners and we move as fast as we can and we work as hard as we can to get results,” Griffo said. “Assemblyman Braunstein’s efforts will help make New York safer. I appreciate the partnership with Assemblyman Brindisi so that we can move this bill swiftly through both chambers when we return to Albany. Protecting the people knows no party lines.”

“I am proud to work together again with Senator Joseph A. Griffo, to pass this bill, which would strengthen our previous legislation by preventing drug dealers from evading the law by changing the chemical composition of ‘bath salts.’ These dangerous meth-like drugs have caused numerous violent and tragic incidents throughout the country and we must take stronger action against ‘bath salts’ in order to protect the public as well as law enforcement officers,” Assemblyman Braunstein said.

According to UPSTATE Medical University and the Upstate New York Poison Center “bath salts” is a common term used for man-made stimulant (upper) drugs that are similar to “ICE” methamphetamine (or crystal meth). Since they are very similar to other stimulant (upper) drugs like meth (amphetamine), they are very dangerous when used. “Bath salts” can be snorted, smoked, or even put in water and injected using a needle. They come in a variety of different and attractive packaging with enticing names like “Cloud Nine”, “White Lightening.” “Purple Rain”, “Pixie Dust”, and many more. These drugs stimulate the nervous system (brain) and the cardiac system (heart). Severe symptoms may occur including convulsions, seizures, chest pain, excessive sweating, hallucination, anger/violence, suicidal thoughts and action. The use of “bath salts” can cause heart attacks, permanent brain damage and scary hallucinations that can last for days or even weeks. Behavior can result in suicide or the harm to or killing of others. The Upstate New York Poison Center has received 198 cases of reported incidents related to “bath salts” so far in 2012. Central New York has been particularly hard hit, with Oneida County having 36 cases in 2012, as opposed to 8 in 2011; Onondaga County 35 (9 in 2011); Oswego County 17 Cases (10 in 2011); and Madison County having 15 cases (none in 2011).

Griffo said, “These so-called ‘bath salts’ are not the same as aromatic bath salts. They contain a potentially lethal mix of synthetic drugs and serve no purpose other than to get the user high. My legislation sought to ban these dangerous substances so we may help keep our young people safe and give our law enforcement the authority to rid our State of these dangerous drugs. What we are finding since the law took effect is that more action is needed because of the incidents taking place across Central New York.”

Braunstein added: “Dangerous substances are being marketed under many names, but the result is the same – damaging effects to the user and potentially dangerous situations for the police and community. Our new bill will help to stop this epidemic.”

Teens and Drugs – K2 and Spice are Banned, but What Fix is Next?


 

“Drug du jour K2 is now illegal in Michigan. But that doesn’t mean parents can rest easy. What’s at the heart of teen drug use? And what can families and communities do?”

 

Nearly two years ago, Bill Miskokomon began noticing a dramatic shift in his 16-year-old son’s personality.

“He was not the kid I knew at all,” the Shelby Township dad recalls. “I knew it wasn’t him, and I couldn’t reach him.”

The blank stares, slipping grades and countless fights were too much to brush off as typical teen rebellion. Miskokomon, who asked that his teen son not be named, started to wonder if his son was using drugs. He administered drug tests to his son when it was time for the teen to get a driver’s license, but the results came up clean each time.

“I had a false sense of security,” he says of the negative tests – but he knew his child “still wasn’t acting himself.” As his relationship with his son further dwindled, he continued searching for the reason why.

Desperate for answers, Miskokomon searched the teenager’s bedroom and found small, silvery packages labeled “potpourri.”

A worried Miskokomon researched the substance online and discovered the potpourri he found in his son’s room was actually K2, or “Spice” – a synthetic drug made of herbs, sprayed with chemicals and manufactured to mock the effects of marijuana when smoked, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The designer drug didn’t show up on drug tests, was addictive, and – shockingly enough – was perfectly legal.

Miskokomon’s son, now 17, had been smoking K2 for about a year and a half when Miskokomon found out. The teen had been buying it at a local gas station and smoke shop.

“It was like living a nightmare,” Miskokomon says of that time. “A lot of times I’d worry if he was coming home, (or) if I was going to find him alive in the morning.”

K2 received big headlines this summer as communities from Ann Arbor to Detroit to the entire county of Macomb passed ordinances banning the sale of it and other synthetic drugs, such as “bath salts.” Within weeks, the state legislature fast-tracked a bill banning the sale of the drug statewide, and Gov. Rick Snyder officially kiboshed K2’s legal status by signing the bill into law on June 19, 2012.

But while parents and politicians rejoiced, drug treatment experts and law enforcement officials had a more tempered response. They, after all, are on the front lines of teen drug use, and were well aware that K2 was just the latest teen drug trend. Banning one type of drug – while crucial – was just one battle in a war that may never be won.

After all, approximately 50 percent of high school seniors have tried an illicit drug in their lifetimes, and approximately 20 percent of eighth-graders have done the same, according to the national “Monitoring the Future Study” released by the University of Michigan in December 2011.

The prevalence, the problem and the publicity beg the question: Is there any way to stop teens from getting high?

Why teens do drugs

As long as there have been drugs, teens have experimented with them. The risky teenage behavior has to do with brain development, says Dr. Charlene McGunn, executive director ofChippewa Valley Coalition for Youth and Families, an anti-drug organization based in Clinton Township.

“The brain of an adolescent is research-proven to be a work in progress,” she says, noting that MRI studies have shown “the brain is really not fully developed … until into the 20s.”

“The area of the brain that is last to develop” – known as the prefrontal cortex – “is what promotes decision making,” she says. Hence, a premature prefrontal cortex can cause teens to make bad decisions or take risks.

Of course, there are social reasons teens dabble with drugs, too.

“Kids are curious and they will try things,” says Mark Hackel, Macomb County’s executive and former county sheriff. Hackel helped Macomb become one of the first counties in southeast Michigan to ban the sale of K2 in early June.

Hackel says “it’s not one thing” that causes teens to try drugs. Rather, he thinks, “it has a lot to do with society in general.”

Hackel says teens sometimes try drugs and drink alcohol because of the examples they’re seeing on TV, among peers or even in their own homes.

“Parents provide a terrible example to kids sometimes,” Hackel says.

For example, if parents come home from a party and tell a friend on the phone about how drunk they were, or if they come home from work and drink several beers a night, they’re sending their teen the message that “it can’t be that bad,” he says.

“We unfortunately don’t set a very good example for kids in our daily lives,” Hackel says. “(The) reality is we don’t realize the impact we’re having on kids.”

When all of these influences mix with teenage curiosity, kids try drugs for the first time – or “the worst time,” as Hackel puts it, because the teen is then “always chasing that same high.”

McGunn says that a majority of alcoholics and drug users began using during adolescence.

“We don’t know the long-term implications of drug use on the developing brain,” McGunn says. “What we do know is that if we can postpone the use of alcohol until the age of 21, we will not, very likely, have an alcoholic.”

The powerful role parents play

Following the battle to get his son help and inform others about K2’s dangers, Miskokomon has formulated advice for other parents: “Get more involved.”

Parents, he says, are “so busy” with their “day-to-day lives” that sometimes, they believe “as long as my kids aren’t in trouble, they’re fine.”

“I just think as parents, we need to step back and take time with our kids,” Miskokomon says. “Pay attention to what’s going on in their lives.”

And if parents see a change in their teen’s behavior, he says, “Ask why.”

As McGunn has found through the teen focus groups she studies with her coalition, teens want their parents to be involved in their lives, and studies have shown that parental involvement is one of the biggest factors in preventing teen drug use.

“(Teens) don’t want parents to be controlling their every movement,” she says, but “they want parents to be involved. They really want parents to listen.” When parents supervise their teens’ actions and whereabouts, get involved at their schools and listen to their thoughts and feelings – even those they don’t like – teens feel protected and cared for.

“All the common-sense parenting ideas are really the most important things that can occur for kids to keep them from experimenting,” she says.

Teens are susceptible to making bad decisions based on their premature brains, so “parental presence is so very important” to help kids make the right choices, McGunn says.

What parents can do

To talk to teens about drugs, parents must be informed, McGunn stresses.

“In terms of what parents should be aware of, I think it starts with parents educating themselves on current trends,” she says.

The next step is having a conversation about drugs with kids at a young age.

“Basically by starting to ask what the teen knows, (and) what they’re observing,” parents can start the dialogue, she says. She suggests parents also do this by “expressing considerable concern about any drug – alcohol, marijuana, tobacco – really anything at all that might be used.”

And again, parents should also keep in mind the examples they’re setting for teens, Hackel says.

“I think they need to start realizing it’s our responsibility to set the tone,” he says. “We don’t realize that we’re role models and mentors to kids – not just kids in our own homes.”

McGunn suggests parents occasionally throw parties at their home that don’t include alcohol, for example, since alcohol is “the primary drug that teens are going to see their parents use.

“It sends a distinct message that you can celebrate and have a good time without alcohol,” she says.

Peers also play a large role in influencing teenagers. Therefore, McGunn says parents should get to know their teen’s friends.

“One of the ways of determining whether a teen uses is whether they’re associated with other teens who use,” she says.

Fighting the never-ending battle

Sometimes, though, parents cannot stop their teens from trying drugs.

Miskokomon says he talked to his teen about drugs, and spent a lot of time in his son’s life – from Boy Scouts and baseball to attending parent-teacher conferences.

“You can’t stay on your kids 24/7. There’s so much peer pressure out there,” he says.

But Miskokomon’s message to other parents whose kids are doing drugs is “not to give up on their kids.” Today, Miskokomon’s 17-year-old son is back home in Michigan after completing a 30-day drug rehab program in South Dakota.

“He did great,” Miskokomon says, but adds that his son still “has a long road ahead of him.”

While other teens across the nation face similar roads to recovery, new drugs will threaten to wreak havoc on teen lives.

“There’s always going to be the drug of the day,” McGunn admits. “However, that doesn’t mean that parents can’t inoculate their children so they’re less likely to use it.”

The best way to reduce teen drug use is to fight the demand, Hackel says.

“(It’s) K2 today, but what’s it going to be tomorrow? Something different,” he says. “We can’t constantly be chasing after the supply when there’s the demand. How do we get people to say, ‘We don’t want to do drugs?'”

Getting teens to avoid trying drugs is a community effort, McGunn says, and everybody in the community – from law enforcement and churches to schools and coalitions – have a place in doing so.

Yet in the end, “It’s always going to come back to good parenting,” she says, and when you bring all areas of the community together on the issue, “the head of the table is always going to be the parents.”