LCSN: Spice whirl: The rise of a last-resort drug

October 3, 2015. Retrieved online October 6, 2015 from Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News

[Excerpts below reprinted with permission: Read the complete Las Cruces Sun-News article]

LAS CRUCES — A particularly dangerous batch of the illegal drug Spice is on the streets of Las Cruces. It is sending many to the emergency room and leaving others dead.

What is Spice?

Spice is the street name that is broadly applied to a variety of synthetic cannabinoids. It is also sometimes called synthetic cannabis or synthetic marijuana, though its link to marijuana is tenuous. Spice and K2 are name brands that have become genericized and are often used to refer to synthetic cannabinoids more broadly.

Hitting the homeless

The Sun-News filed a records request with the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator in an effort to document the number of recent deaths from Spice overdoses, but has not yet received a response.

However, those who work closely with the homeless community said that Spice usage has reached epidemic proportions.

Youth misuse

“About 5 years ago, we first became aware of Spice,” said a supervisor at a Las Cruces group home for youth. “The use by our clients is to avoid detection. When we would do room searches, we’d find it. At first, we didn’t know what it was.”

All walks of life

Spice is not just a problem in the homeless community or among juvenile delinquents. The drug is also popular with professionals who face drug screening. For the same reason, it has seen a rise in popularity among military personnel.

A veterans issue

David Boje is a professor in the management department in New Mexico State University’s College of Business. Through his volunteerism in the veteran community, he became aware of the drug.

While working with homeless veterans in Las Cruces, he realized that an epidemic was afoot.

Boje is also an organizer and story researcher for Veterans Theater in Las Cruces. The group of local veterans, many of whom were at one time homeless, produce and perform plays about veterans issues. The group is currently rehearsing a play about the dangers of Spice. They will offer a free performance of the play, “Early Christmas,” on Dec. 2 at the Rio Grande Theatre.

Hard to police

Many people who use Spice believe that it is legal — largely because it is so easy to buy.

“Spice is NOT legal,” Trujillo said. “But unfortunately, many of the people who are selling it constantly change the product name or the ingredients. Bath salts, Spice — all of those synthetic drugs — they’re incredibly hard to police.”


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