by Nancy Thorner
If you are unfamiliar with "Spice," a synthetic marijuana, it is about time you are made aware of its dangers. Spice use is most likely making inroads with students in your own school district, as it gains in popularity among teens.
Spice made its entry into the U.S. from Europe in 2008 when a public high school in the north shore suburbs of Chicago reported the first Illinois school drug overdose involving spice. The student related how he had purchased the drug over the Internet and had smoked it just before the start of the school day.
Spice is a mixture of herbs and spices that typically is sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Spice, also known as K2, mimics the effects of marijuana and can be purchased in head shops, tobacco shops, various retail outlets and over the Internet as a chemically-laced incense product.
Most troubling is that hospital urine tests do not detect the use of the drug. Fifteen states have already acted to control the chemicals used to make the synthetic marijuana. Illinois is among them. House Bill 4578, banning all synthetic cannabinoids, was signed into law on July 27, 2011 and became effective on January 1st of this year.
Teens are more venerable to the ill effects of synthetic marijuana, as the adolescent brain differs from that of an adult. The pre-frontal cortex is the the last area of the brain to develop. This is the part that modulates executive function.
Detrimental effects associated with the prolonged teen use of synthetic marijuana, as with marijuana, include lower test scores and educational attainment. Also affected are concentration, short-term memory, and critical skills needed for learning and processing information.
It is not surprising that spice has become a problem in the military. The Navy recently discharged 16 sailors assigned to the USS Bataan for using or dealing with spice. Seven midshipmen were also expelled from the Naval Academy and five cadets from the Air Force Academy. During the last four months 151 sailors have been accused of using or possessing spice.
If synthetic cannabinoids have been banned in Illinois, why is there a push to have Illinois become the 16th state to legalize medical marijuana? SB381 failed narrowly in the Lame Duck Session of the House last December, having passed in the Senate earlier in 2010.
Just as spice has been determined to be a dangerous drug by Illinois legislators, let your elected House member know that marijuana likewise should not be legalized for any purpose. There is no doubt that Representative Louis Lang (D-16) will sponsor another bill in the House for medical marijuana when he feels enough votes are there to pass the bill.
I will firmly tell my elected House member, Karen May (D-28), to vote "no. May's "yes" vote during the 2010 Lame Duck Session was unacceptable and lacked sound judgment.
A Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) report dated July, 2010 concludes that there are no sound scientific studies or animal or human data that supports the safety or efficacy of smoked marijuana for general medical use. The following national professional organization are of the same opinion: The American Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Cancer Society, the American glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the British Medical Association.
Shouldn't science, not popular vote, determine what medicine Is? Common sense would indicate that increasing the availability of marijuana will only lead to more use and more dependency and will, in turn, affect all communities both monetarily and socially -- and most of all the lives of our children!