Valley police, fire and emergency room doctors are seeing the strange effects of synthetic marijuana overdoses. In some cases, people using the drugs to enter a zombie-like state.
"They're glassy-eyed. They're out of it. You can say, 'Hey! What's going on?' They don't respond to you. They get agitated with very little stimulation," said Dr. Frank LoVecchio, who is the co-medical director of Banner Poison, Drug and Information Center. "All of them have side-effects and some of them are atrocious."
Synthetic marijuana, known as "Spice" or "K2," is available on the streets and in some unscrupulous convenience stores for as little as $6 for a dose. It is illegal to make or sell and drug detectives say they make busts on a regular basis.
"I'm starting to see myself an increase in the use of spice because it's cheap," said Det. Peter Walters with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
In one recent bust, MCSO found spice being manufactured in a cement mixer and on the floor of a garage. The amount of profit the manufacturers can make is astounding.
"Typical investment for manufacturing, you know, $1,200 to $1,500 investment. You'll get about a $30,000 gain," said Walters.
ER doctors say the problem is that it only takes one grain of the chemical ingredient to get "high." Anything more will likely cause an adverse reaction.
"This weekend, we put somebody in a medically-induced coma because they were on this," said LoVecchio.
Authorities say the homeless population is the most at risk of using synthetic marijuana, but children are also using it.
A University of Michigan study showed 4 percent of high school seniors admitted using it and 3 percent of eighth graders admitted it.
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